Acclaimed photographer Simon Roberts comes to Working Class Movement Library

Article published: Friday, May 18th 2012

Internationally-acclaimed photographer Simon Roberts will be at the Working Class Movement Library this Saturday to film activists, after massive support saw the institution win the public vote in the national Connect10 competition for arts celebration Museums at Night. 

Courtesy of the Working Class Movement Library collections

Activists are asked to bring with them an object summing up themselves or their cause and will be recorded by Roberts, official photographer for the 2010 general election, as they share their thoughts and experiences of contemporary campaigns and struggles.

Roberts, renowned for his work documenting the lives and pastimes of the modern working class in collections such as “We English” and the Russia-focused “Motherland”, will also hold a ticket-only lecture later that evening. Based on his experiences of the election and his new project documenting the physical, social and political effects of recession, members of the public can apply for places by contacting the museum.

A spokesperson for the library said they hoped to add to their “unique collection”, which documents 200 years of social history and socialist politics, by recording modern-day activists as “we suffer the biggest spending cuts in a generation”. Library manager Lynette Cawthra said the results would be “woven together by Simon, and given to us to add to our collection for current and future visitors to learn from.”

A shot from the Simon Roberts exhibition 'We English'

Cawthra told Mule of the library’s excitement at the visit, explaining how she likes “to think we have an affinity with Simon’s work, and the way he approaches his subject matter”, through the way he documents “the lives of ordinary people in their social landscapes in a way that challenges preconceptions and reveals their beauty and richness.”

The library also hopes to enable activists to trace connections with the campaigners of previous generations, drawing parallels between viral protest songs uploaded onto youtube and the bitingly satirical cartoons and poems written following Manchester’s infamous Peterloo massacre of 1819.

The event is part of national visual arts promoter Culture 24’s Connect10 campaign to bring together galleries, libraries and archives as part of the annual Museums at Night celebration of arts, culture and heritage in Britain. Nine other museums across the country also won visits from contemporary artists as part of the campaign, and hundreds more will host other special events across the weekend of Friday 18 – Sunday 20 May.

Richard Goulding

Taken part in a campaign you think others should hear about? Roberts will be at the Working Class Movement Library, 51 The Crescent, Salford, from 1pm – 4pm Saturday 19 May. 

Tickets for the evening lecture are limited, but the public can apply for spaces via ballot by contacting

You can see more of Roberts’s work here

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