About Daniel Baker
Daniel Baker is an artist, writer and education professional. Between 2008 and 2016 he was Education Director at Cubitt in London where he set up a large-scale programme of activities led by artists at local schools and community centres. As an artist Baker has worked within different contexts, particularly museums and collections, to develop projects that explore the power of narrative, subjectivity, and the formation of identity. His output includes a series of comics alongside animations, drawings, paintings and installations. He has been commissioned by the Science Museum, National Maritime Museum and the Wellcome Collection, and spoken at conferences and seminars in Egypt, Margate, London and Milwaukee.
Residency at WMG 2017
Baker's Residency was inspired by connections between William Morris’s political poetry and the lyrics of Grime artists such as Skepta and Stormzy. It began in November 2016 with several visits to the archive at the William Morris Gallery: reading Morris' letters, his socialist pamphlets and poetry, and an excellent biography by Fiona MacCarthy, A Life For Our Time. "It is perhaps easy now to see Morris' work as traditional and uncontroversial, but he was actually driven by a rebellious energy: a powerful and relentless quest to find something profound and spiritual beyond Victorian aesthetics and society." said Baker. "This eventually led him to want to completely dismantle the existing political system, and inspire others, particularly working people, to rise up in a real revolutionary rebellion against the capitalist ruling class".
Whilst researching Morris’ life and writings, Baker made connections with other people thinking and writing about Grime, particularly its creative and rebellious spirit. Monique Charles had just finished her PhD in Grime and Baker invited her to talk about Morris and Grime at the Gallery as part of a WMG Late on the 1st of December. During the conversation thay discussed the relationships between Grime and policing, and particularly the impact of the 696 form, that the London Metropolitan police have used to close down events playing Grime. The 696 form has been criticised as racist and oppressive to social life amongst young people of colour in the capital and Monique has explored how the 696 form may have led to Grime to spread to other cities and also to a boom in instrumental Grime: both of which are creative and rebellious ways of circumventing the restrictions of 696.
In March 2017 Baker worked with MC Lemzi to explore some of these themes with local young people in a special Masterclass, whilst also developing his own skills in music production.
Beyond the Residency
Baker is currently working on a film and new sound works that have emerged from the residency. He aims to show these publicly in late 2017 / early 2018.