Hyde Park is regarded worldwide as the home of free speech. Some of the photographs, taken on Sunday afternoons stretching back almost four decades, are accompanied by headlines from excerpts of speeches, heckles, arguments and debates. These are by turns, intriguing, shocking, politically incorrect- and often very funny. In an age in which broadcasters and newspaper editors largely set the parameters of public discussion, such unmediated face to face public debate is rare and offers a very different perspective on ‘public opinion’.
The speakers and hecklers recorded in this exhibition, whether serious or light hearted, religious or profane, are the vibrant heirs of the nineteenth-century campaigners who fought for, and won the rights of freedom of expression and assembly – vital element of our democratic tradition.
John Phillips, Director of londonprintstudio said ‘Philip Wolmuth deals with global issues. While these fine photographs are about animated conversations, exploring the gestures and reactions of people from different communities, they also reflect the passion and intransigence of people engaged in debate.’
The exhibition developed from Philip Wolmuth’s book ‘Speaker’s Corner’ which is on sale in the gallery shop during the exhibition.
Philip Wolmuth is a documentary photographer and occasional writer based in London. In 1976 he set up North Paddington Community Darkroom, a pioneering community photography project in a deprived neighbourhood. In 1982 he left to work as a freelancer focusing on political, social and economic issues, and the impact of public policy on communities and individuals in the UK and abroad.
Philip Wolmuth’s book ‘Speaker’s Corner‘ is published by The History Press.
There is a great review of Philip’s book in the Guardian which you can read here and on the BBC which you can read here