Red Saunders – The Agreement | The Story Behind The Work

Photographer Red Saunders’ on-going project, HIDDEN, which he has been working on since 2008, recreates great moments in the long struggle for rights and representation in Britain.  The aim of the project, which is currently in progress, is to recreate historic scenes involving the dissenters, revolutionaries, radicals and non-conformists that have often been hidden from a history dominated by Kings, Queens and military battles.  His photographs are notable for their meticulous attention to detail in costume, historical accuracy and lighting (which takes particular influence form the paintings of Rembrandt, Velazquez and Caravaggio).

Red Saunders trained as a photographer in the 1960s and had a long career until the late 1990s as a commercial photographer working for Rolling Stone, GQ, Time, Life and Conde Nast magazines.  In 2000 he had a solo show Nearby at Pentagram Gallery, London, and continued to take commissions until 2006.  Recently he has shown in various exhibitons and group shows, including the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2014.

Red Saunders

Red Saunders, The Agreement, 1713 – 2013

Red was commissioned to produce a photographic mural capturing the atmosphere at the peace negotiations in celebration of the Peace Treaty of Utrecht, which marked its 300th anniversary. The tableaux was hung on the monumental façade of the City Hall, Utrecht. The finished tableau measured an incredible 200 square metres. Red’s original sketches featured eight groups representing the key characters that took part in the Treaty negotiations and it was these that formed the core of the final Tableaux, which is remarkably close to the original sketch. These key elements are made up of the Aristocrats, Diplomats and negotiators around a huge under lit table; a Hogathian Debauchery scene that accompanies it, behind them the Calvinist bureaucrat and civil servants joined by the military are all watched by the citizens of Utrecht. There are small vignettes around the main group that imagined the elements of the treaty, from African slaves to allegorical references to early mercantile capitalism globalisation as well as Dutch painting, food, still life, flower girls, peace doves etc. All these elements were painstakingly positioned until Red was satisfied that the image as a whole worked as a giant Tableau and still retained the magical realism of his original idea. Quite simply ambitious community arts projects like these could not happen without the support of all our volunteers both cast and crew.