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Vanessa Redgrave and Tariq Ali protest against the Vietnam War, 1968, by John Walmsley

1 March 2018

March 17th 2018 will be the 50th anniversary of the anti-Vietnam war demonstration to Grosvenor Square led by Vanessa Redgrave & Tariq Ali. This photograph captures both of them at the head of the protest, with Redgrave holdling the letter later delivered to the US Ambassador. 

In my final year at Guildford School of Art I heard about this big demonstration, borrowed the Department’s 35mm camera, hitched to London and walked at the head from Trafalgar Square to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square.  This photo was taken somewhere in Charing Cross Road while the march was halted for a few moments.  It’s been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery twice and is in their Permanent Collection.  It and many others are available as high quality postcards, and this month, Café Royal Books are publishing a book of my photographs of the protest.

Throughout my career I’ve mostly supplied photos to book publishers and government departments.  But the work I’m most proud of are the self-started projects: A.S. Neill and Summerhill School, Dunquin in Co. Kerry, the sit-in at Guildford school of Art, life at the Architectural Association School of Architecture where I was a part-time lecturer for seven years and a big project on repertory theatre (not yet published).
Last year I exhibited at the Bluecoat, Liverpool and the Architectural Association, London.  This year there will be two exhibitions in Guildford featuring the sit-in photos.  One at the Museum as part of a number of shows in the south marking the history of democratic protest in the 800 years since the Magna Carta and the other at the Guildford House Gallery with work produced by people who were students or staff at the time of the sit-in with information on how it affected them and their future careers/life.  Plus an exhibition at Liverpool John Moore’s University, details to be confirmed, but probably including my photos of the Liverpool Free School from the 70s.

John Walmsley studied photography at Guildford School of Art between 1965-68.  His final year project on A.S. Neill and his democratic school, Summerhill, was published by Penguin Books in 1969. John has always been a freelance photographer, working for textbook publishers, government departments and charities amongs others. Most of what he considers his best work was self-started and self-funded, including many books with the writer Leila Berg - making the work simply because it was interesting. For several years in the 1970s John was a Fellow of the Digswell Arts Trust, living with other artists and running public photography classes whilst also being a part-time lecturer at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London during its most vibrant period.

John has published set of 26 postcards which are available from his website here: www.walmsleyblackandwhite.com

See more work by John Walmsley

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