In August 2018, Lauren Sagar, together with artists Eve Robertson and John-Paul Brown walked 250 miles from Manchester to London in 25 days. Inspired by The Blanketeers, a group of impoverished Lancashire textile workers who planned to march to London to petition the Prince Regent in March 1817, March of the Artists was a political act, which sought to start discussions about the visibility of artists within our towns and cities.
Honouring Manchester’s radical history, March of the Artists drew connections between current transformations of the urban landscape and the massive changes wrought 200 years ago by industrialisation. The recent transformation of cities such as Manchester, due to intense property development, is having a huge impact on artists’ access to space – spaces to live, work, create, meet and organise as communities. The impact of this has highlighted the obscurity of the role of artists and the contributions that they make to the places in which they live and work.
Armed with their own artist petition, the artists discussed these issues with individuals and groups in towns and cities along the route. Instigating creative activities in public spaces such as libraries and in exchange for accommodation, the artists relied upon the hospitality of the people that they met, and slept in canal boats, a cricket club, over a sweet shop and in artists’ spaces. Their petition evolved further thanks to these conversations, and on 25th August, under the statue of Millicent Fawcett in London’s Parliament Square, they read it out publicly.
Lauren came across the March of the Blanketeers while working on her project Call For Cloth. The year long project, which invited people to share their stories of cloth and clothing, was commissioned by wewioraprojects for their touring exhibition, Tall Tales. Sixty people from four cities were involved; London, Manchester, Rochdale and Glasgow and three new blankets were created, one of these travelled to London with March of the Artists in solidarity with the Blanketeers.
The March of the Blanketeers