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New street art stencil celebrates under-appreciated philosopher from Wales

5 December 2022

Richard Price stencil

Portrait aims to revive interest in the writings of Richard Price

The School of English, Communication, and Philosophy has commissioned a new life-sized stencil portrait of the 18th-century philosopher Richard Price.

Born in Llangeinor near Bridgend in 1723, Price went on to make important contributions to probability theory, moral philosophy, and natural theology, but his most influential works were his political arguments for individual freedom and democratic government.

He was Unitarian minister at the Meeting House in Newington Green, London, when he wrote these arguments. Edmund Burke attacked his ideas, prompting two members of Price’s congregation, Mary Wollstonecraft and Thomas Paine, to defend and extend his thought in works that have become central texts in political philosophy.

Despite his historical and philosophical significance, Price’s own writings have not received much attention in recent decades. Reader in Philosophy Dr Huw Williams explains :

“Richard Price is an extremely important philosopher who championed values that remain at the heart of democratic politics. His work preached the importance of liberty and virtue, and the need to temper our patriotism with the universal good. We would do well to reconsider his thought to see what insights he might offer for our own troubled times”.

The laser-cut stencil is the work of Stewy, whose famous portrait of Wollstonecraft first appeared on an outside wall of the Meeting House in Newington Green in 2013.

Stewy  has spray-painted his images of Price and Wollstonecraft onto walls in the university’s John Percival Building. These inspiring  figures now stand at the entrances to teaching rooms regularly used for philosophy seminars.

The portrait of Price has also appeared in Newington Green, opposite the house he lived in when he was minister at the Meeting House.

Head of Philosophy Professor Jonathan Webber said:

“Stewy’s portrait of Wollstonecraft has become very well known. I believe it is the only piece of street art in the UK Government Art Collection. We are delighted to have these paintings on our walls, and we hope further appearances of the Price stencil will help to revive interest in his life and work”.

Richard Price died in London in 1791. 2023 is the 300th anniversary of his birth.

The School of English, Communication and Philosophy is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. Its disciplines have been  taught at the university since its original foundation as The University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire in 1883.

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