After the previous week all day sleeping and doing nothing all of a sudden we had an announcement that we have to go on a trip to London for a couple of exhibitions. The first one on which we went was at The Imperial War Museum where we met with the artist and designer Peter Kennard
Peter Kennard: Unofficial War Artist
Peter Kennard is Britain’s most important political artist whose imagery has become synonymous with the modern protest movement. This first major retrospective of his work demonstrates how Kennard has consistently confronted issues in world politics and British governmental policy both at home and abroad, inspiring many of today’s politically-aware artists from Mark Wallinger to Banksy.
I was astonished and enthused by his work and I love the idea of influence the audience and drawing the attention to some really important but hidden from us important problems such as the cruelty of the wars that have been left behind, bombing and others from which we should learn our way out for the future. I was so interested of his work I started designing my own more modernistic work against the war of the newer days.
After the exhibition me and John split from the group because I had to buy an Oyster card. We got lost from them and as the time went we didn’t have time for lunch, and as we finally found them the second exhibition had already partially finished. For me it didn’t mater though because Noel told as everything about it on his industry Friday. But it was a pleasure to meet in person Syd Shelton with who we had the pleasure to speak with after the presenting as his exhibition.
Syd Shelton: Rock Against Racism
Autograph ABP announces the first major exhibition of Syd Shelton’s photographs capturing one of the most intriguing and contradictory political periods in British post war history. Between 1976 and 1981, the movement Rock Against Racism (RAR) confronted racist ideology in the streets, parks and town halls of Britain. RAR was formed by a collective of musicians and political activists to fight fascism and racism through music.
Under the slogan ‘Love Music, Hate Racism’, it showcased reggae and punk bands on the same stage, attracting large multicultural audiences. At a time when the fascist attitudes of the National Front were gaining support, RAR marked the rising resistance to violent and institutionalised racism.
Syd Shelton’s photographs document the volatility of a country divided across race, class and gender. They expose the ferocity of cultural difference being hammered out on Britain’s streets through the late 1970s, at a time when racist skinheads danced to Jamaican ska, punks embraced reggae and black kids reached out to punk. Shelton photographed performers such as The Clash, Elvis Costello, Misty in Roots, Tom Robinson, Au Pairs and The Specials as well as the audiences at RAR gigs and carnivals across England. He captured the history-making RAR Carnival 1 at Victoria Park, London in 1978, and demonstrations such as the Anti National Front Demonstration in Lewisham in 1977. Shelton also took contextual social and cultural images that informed the politics of the movement across England and Ireland.
As Shelton says: ‘In collaboration with UK reggae and punk bands, RAR members took on the orthodoxy through five carnivals and some 500 gigs throughout Britain. In those five years, the National Front went from a serious electoral threat into political oblivion.’
Rock Against Racism revisits the energy of RAR, the creative entanglement of black and white musicians, designers, writers, actors, performers and supporters who produced effective counter-narratives to whiteness as superior and blackness as alienated. Shelton’s photographs remind us that RAR was a particular treatise on belonging in Britain.
RAR did not have an official photographer and Shelton has produced the largest collection of images on the movement. He says of the period: ‘Photography for me has always been an autobiographical tool, a sort of staccato visual diary….I also used my photography during that period as a graphic argument, enabling me to be a subjective witness of the period which could, hopefully, contribute to social change ….’
His work is great piece of history sealed in photos. All the rebels and fighters against racism searching for a way hostile out of the hostile environment. He so well captured the energy of that time.
After the exhibition John showed me a contemporary artist gallery where we found a really good picturesque paintings of animals.