Socialist Worker

Reviews round-up

Issue No. 2434

Freedom Ride (Ballad of Tony and George)

This brilliant new song is based on the South Yorkshire Freedom Riders’ fight to reinstate free rail travel. 

The song tells the story of Tony Nuttall and George Arthur’s arrest and celebrates their recent victory. 

It will be out on CD soon to raise money for the campaign. 

The Platform Two 
Available on YouTube
Coming soon to CD 

Tangled Yarns 

Artist Alke Schmidt has taken recent tragedies in south Asian garment factories to delve into the history of the textile industry.

The tragedies claimed more than 1,500 workers lives, and were … so that Western brands could maximise profit, 

Schmidt explores issues of “race, gender, exploitation and violence”.

While class isn’t mentioned, it is very much present.

She has carefully sourced fabrics, each with their own history, to provide a context for the powerful images painted onto them.

Her in depth research for this work raises moral questions about the clothes on our backs and how they got there.

It’s apt that this exhibition is in the William Morris Gallery.

Morris set up a workshop at Merton Abbey in London, where workers could produce textile designs in a creative and safe way.

But Alke questions Morris’s relationship with the Lancashire cotton workers, who probably supplied the raw cotton.

It’s implied that he wasn’t concerned with their working conditions.

The Lancashire cotton workers had made an inspirational stand against slavery during the American Civil War.

They welcomed black US abolitionist Frederick Douglas in a tour across Britain that attracted thousands.

Yet this ‘yarn’ is missing from the work, but the Lancashire workers’ support for Mahatma Ghandi’s Indian independence campaign is brought to life in a moving piece, End of Empire.

Morris was won to socialism in his fifties by deeply considering the factory system and how the things we need to live are made.

In his essay A Factory As It Might Be, he rages against the appropriation of others’ labour by a rich minority, “the result of which is … a dire slavery, long hours of labour … and complete repulsiveness at the work itself”.  

He turned his back on his company and its rich clients to campaign for a better world, free of exploitation where each person could pursue their own creativity.

The exhibition is supported by talks by the artist and on ethical fashion.

It is well worth a visit to see this show, and the wonderful collection at the William Morris Gallery.

Lorraine Huddle   

William Morris Gallery,
London E17 5EH
Until 25 January 2015

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Article information

Tue 16 Dec 2014, 16:52 GMT
Issue No. 2434
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