As students return to school and university this September we present Luke Fowler’s acclaimed essay film on Marxist historian Edward Palmer Thompson and his work educating adults excluded from traditional university education.
The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott focuses on the work of the Marxist historian Edward Palmer Thompson, who, from 1946 (at the age of 24), was employed by the Workers’ Education Association (WEA) to teach literature and social history to adults in the industrial towns of the West Riding. These classes were open to people who historically had been unable to access a university education. E.P. Thompson becam synonymous with the discipline of ‘cultural studies’ that emerged in Post-War Britain, along with fellow left-wing critics Raymond Williams and Richard Hoggart. Fowler’s film explores the issues that were at stake for progressive educationalists. Like Thompson, many desired to use their teaching to create ‘revolutionaries’ and pursue the original WEA values of delivering a ‘socially purposeful’ education. The film captures a moment of optimism, in which Thompson’s ideas for progressive education came together with those of the West Riding and its established tradition of political resistance and activism.
The film draws together archival material from television, from local sources and the Workers’ Education Association archive itself, and combines them with new film and audio gathered on location in the former West Riding region of Yorkshire. In realising this new commission, Fowler worked in collaboration with acclaimed American independent filmmaker Peter Hutton and Yorkshire-born writer/filmmaker George Clark. Composers Ben Vida and Richard Youngs.
Commissioned by The Hepworth Wakefield, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Film and Video Umbrella, through the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award for Museums: commission to collect. Supported by Arts Council England. With special thanks to the Yorkshire Film Archive.
Archive Image Credits: WEA Archive, TUC Library, London Metropolitan University. Courtesy of A.S.Parkin
Luke Fowler (born 1978 in Glasgow) obtained his BA (Hons) at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee in 2000. Recent solo exhibitions include: Common Sense, La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2013); The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott, Wolverhampton Art Gallery (2012); and Luke Fowler with Toshiya Tsunoda and John Haynes, Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2012). Recent group exhibitions include: Soundings: A Contemporary Score, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013); Otherwise Unexplained Fires, Malmö Konsthall, Malmö, Sweden (2013); and British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet, Nottingham, London, Glasgow and Plymouth (2010–11). Fowler was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2012 and received the inaugural Jarman Award in 2008. He lives and works in Glasgow.
The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott, published by Film and Video Umbrella
Ed Halter’s catalogue essay on for Luke Fowler exhibition at Dartmouth College
Peter Todd’s portrait film of Luke Fowler for the Turner Prize 2012