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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

UK Uncut, Green & Black Cross, Black Bloc & the March for the Alternative.

So, what does it all mean? I attempt to pick apart what happened on Saturday 26th March 2011, accompanied by loads of photos of beautiful creative banners and action.

Written by Amelia Gregory

buy purchase _Another_Level, approved _4x4x3m,_mixed_media_including_reclaimed_wood,_glass_flowers,_taxidermied_bird,_flower_pots,_2009_courtesy_the_artist_and_EB&Flow” width=”480″ height=”320″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-38966″ />
Katie Louise Surridge, Another Level. Mixed media including reclaimed wood, glass flowers, taxidermied bird, flower pots.

Amidst the renovations and general detritus that inevitably comes when you do a top to toe renovation of a two floored building, Nathan Englebrecht and Margherita Berloni are guiding me around the former print works in Leonard Street, EC2 which will soon form the light-filled gallery space for EB&Flow. In the run up to the April 2nd opening, the gallery founders – both twenty somethings who met on an art business course – seem as cool as a proverbial cucumber and in good spirits as we tour the premises, chatting all the while about their vision for the space and how it will serve and suit their artists in residence. While art galleries are certainly not hard to come by in this neck of the woods, there is something very noteworthy about this particular endeavor, and that is the galleries extensive level of support to the artists who will exhibit in their gallery. Their aim is to cultivate long term relationships with the artists in residency, and share an ethos that they will try to make anything happen for them; advising them on their careers, placing them in collections, even paying for material costs if necessary.


A selection of works by some of the 10 artists who will be exhibiting at the group show Since Tomorrow
Gemma Anderson
Albemarlensis, Pahoehoe Lava


Ketil by Shannah Bupp.


Silent Are The Echoes by Nicholas Mcleod

During the time that their work is exhibited at EB&Flow, they are also given studio space within the gallery. (After a period, the walls will be removed and the studio becomes an exhibition in itself). It soon becomes clear that Nathan and Margherita feel passionately about this, discussing at length something which is somewhat of a current hot topic – the sense that artists are not provided with enough support and advice during their time at art school with regards to the business of art; (a subject that was recently discussed in Jessica Furseth’s article here). “We never felt that artists had the right platform in which to exhibit and the support that was needed to develop their careers”, Nathan explains. Born out of this is an additional feature of the gallery; an educational programme kicking off at the end of April that will discuss issues such as collecting, curatorial practice and artist professional development. They list a few of the topics that will be covered, such as the legality issues of selling art, re-sell rights, how to store art, how to do art fairs…..all things relevant and vital to a burgeoning artists career. It’s worth mentioning that these courses and lectures will be open to all. Check the EB&Flow website for further details.


Margeherita and Nathan, EB & Flow.

I ask Margherita and Nathan what they are looking for in an artist, and what type of work will feature at EB&Flow. “There is a certain aesthetic line going through our choice of artists”, Nathan explains, with Margherita adding “we steer away from very conceptual stuff and minimalist art; we want something rich and interesting to look at”. Their first collection is entitled Since Tomorrow, curated by Attilia Fattori Franchini and features work (using disciplines such as installation, painting, sculpture and photography) from ten emerging artists exploring the dynamics of space and providing responses to the question ‘ what is the space we are living at the moment and how do we represent it?’. Work will be shown by Briony Anderson, Gemma Anderson, Neil Ayling, Ross M. Brown, Shannah Bupp, Sue Corke, Dylan Culhane, Alessandro Librio, Nicholas McLeod, Katie Louise Surridge and Cristian Zuzunaga.


A Beautiful Struggle by Katie Louise Surridge

Amongst the core group of artists whose work will be opening the gallery is Katie Louise Surridge, a Slade School of Fine Art graduate. (She will also go on to have a residency at the EB&Flow gallery). Her work will particularly resonate with anyone who lives in grimy, rubbish strewn London because Katie has the ability to make something beautiful out of the underbelly of the city. Her installations use found objects which she sources during scavenging missions done mainly along the Thames, creating a utopia out of what has been left behind and discarded. While I was talking with Nathan and Margherita, Katie was busy getting a sense of the space that will feature her (very big) installation. She works mostly with natural materials, such as aged wood and metal; “natural materials that have been used in this urban scheme, and then reverted back to being natural again”. “I have this fascination with what’s left behind”, she continues, “I like the aesthetic of what the river washes up – it’s been there for a long time and it’s aged and it feels like its got a bit of history behind it”. Discovering Katie’s work makes me realise how little I know about what gets discarded in big cities, and how much waste washes up around us.


So Over by Katie Louise Surridge

It’s impossible not to warm to Katie, especially after discovering the following facts about her:
- She once found an S+M style gag washed up in the river and took it to the pub, thinking that it was a dog collar.
- She was in the Boy Scouts as a child (not the Brownies)
- She is a self confessed obsessive hoarder
- Her beloved dog is going to be featured on a ‘Dog Borstal’ style TV show
- She is saving up to buy a metal detector to assist her scavenging expeditions.

Since Tomorrow: Exhibition Dates, 2 April – 26 May.


Dylan Culhane, and his work Mechanotron which will feature in Since Tomorrow.

March 26 2011-UK UncutUK Uncut gathers on the South Bank on Saturday 26th March 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Unless you have been living under a rock you will be aware that there was a huge anti-cuts March for the Alternative on Saturday 26th March 2011. In the days since then the press has been dominated with both outrage from the government that “hooligans” should be allowed to roam the streets, order and on the other side, order shock at the way in which once again the police and media have mistreated protestors. As anyone who was following me on Twitter will know I was involved on the UK Uncut action, pharmacy which involved an occupation of Fortnum & Mason… yet another large corporation culpable of massive tax avoidance: This action led to by far the largest numbers of arrests and charges on the day: a staggering 138 of the 149.

March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory

March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory

On my way through London I saw the most enormous amount of creativity, from pound coin shields to a Trojan Horse cunningly installed at the centre of Oxford Circus – and of course plenty of banners bursting with witty one liners: included in this blog post are just a few of the amazing sights from the day. With a march numbering possibly half a million and upwards (something the government has been quick to downplay) there were surely many great ones that I missed – especially the legendary message “I was told there would be biscuits” carried by a small child on someone’s shoulders. I broke away from the march early on to take part in UK Uncut actions on Oxford Street and then at Fortnum & Mason.

March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory

Demonised by the press for their behaviour, UK Uncut have been quick to fight back with their version of events: really, the police and media should know better. Both UK Uncut and Green & Black Cross – the support network that provided legal observers and arrestee support – have grown out of Climate Camp networks and ways of organising to take on completely new identities of their own. As a result some of those involved are no strangers to wrongful arrest, police brutality and political policing: remember Heathrow, Kingsnorth, G20 and Ratcliffe anyone? These people know what they are doing; naturally the unfair arrests of UK Uncut was filmed and immediately shared, the footage unsurprisingly making the front page of the Guardian.

March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory

Some people might wonder what on earth the links between the anti-cuts movement and Climate Camp are, but Climate Camp has always been rooted in a desire to address the social inequalities of capitalism – for example a breakaway group in London is currently looking at ways to campaign around fuel poverty. One of the favourite slogans at the COP15 Climate conference was System Change not Climate Change – we can’t cure the problem with simple quick fix answers, but rather by tackling the whole global neoliberal system. A brutal plan to cut services such as libraries and the NHS will undermine the fabric of a just society, affecting the poor most. Meanwhile the rich are able to avoid huge tax bills at a time when we desperately need to start building a green economy that is not based on endless profit. Clearly these inequalities are something that green activists are keen to tackle.

March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory

Climate Camp has also always been a broad mix of liberalism and radicalism, so it’s no surprise that UK Uncut is as well. The very name Green & Black Cross indicates how the group combines the more autonomous anarchist streaks of activism with the skills, infrastructure and ideologies built up within the green movement. It supports grassroots social struggles in the UK and during the March for the Alternative the Green & Black Cross provided Legal Support, Action Medics and Action Kitchens. They even had a basic compost portaloo roaming the streets in a supermarket trolley – but in the event it was never used: it’s hard to get into a kettle once it is formed. They will be independently advising on all arrests during the day at a defendants’ meeting on Saturday 2nd April and were generally out in force to offer biscuits and legal advice as soon as arrestees were released.

March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory

Since the arrests UK Uncut activists have had to field a barrage of commentary from the media, which has been ever quick to notice the anarchic element of their protest. Their sit in at Fortnum & Mason was largely peaceful – protestors ate their own sandwiches and listened to performances and speeches – but on Newsnight a spokesperson was asked to denounce all protestor violence. She did a marvellous job of neither condoning nor condemning it: there were people from all backgrounds in Fortnum & Mason. For some it will have been their first experience of direct action (read this shocking report of the arrest of a 15 year old girl) and others were part of the Black Bloc earlier in the day – the two are not mutually exclusive. UK Uncut has an incredibly loose non-hierarchical structure, and to be successful it must somehow find a place for those of all backgrounds.

March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia GregoryInside Fortnum & Mason. They look super scared don’t they?

Most UK Uncutters recognise that there is more to successful activism than a simplistic black and white damnation of violence, but the more liberal end of the spectrum may well be new to the idea that damage to property is not considered violence by many activists – see here for a definition – so there is going to be a rapid need to redefine and educate as soon as possible. Most of the targets for property damage on Saturday were well thought through – big banks that avoid tax, Topshop, BHS and so on. Who threw paint, and who broke windows? It’s not clear, but the targets were clear enough. Some people, whether you agree with it or not, think it is more effective to inflict damage on a well selected target than to simply march from A-B and then listen to speeches. After all, what did it ever do to stop the Iraq war? Direct action through the ages has proven that targeting property can be highly effective – the Suffragettes were never afraid of inflicting collateral damage. Last year at Climate Camp windows were smashed at the RBS head offices in Edinburgh to demonstrate concern against their continued investment in fossil fuels.

March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory

By Trafalgar Square at night some rogue elements (possibly pissed up) were clearly provoked into throwing glass bottles at police, never something I would recommend however bad police brutality gets (and by all accounts it did get REALLY bad) because I personally don’t believe that violence against people is ever acceptable. But I do believe that the Black Bloc as a considered and thoughtful tactic is something that our movement needs: people who are willing to put their bodies and actions on the front line to stop those who are damaging the fabric of our “democratic” society. Many of them were very young, possibly disaffected veterans of kettling at the student demos last year – others were highly organised groups who came to join the march from across the country. Those involved will undoubtedly have slightly different views as to process and outcome but recent online dialogues prove that diverse parts of the movement are keen to work together. Rather than dismiss Black Bloc actions as the nihilistic work of masked “hooligans” we would do well to consider the underlying reasons why this is seen as an appealing tactic utilised by at least a thousand people last weekend. After all, we’re all in this together… and this is just the beginning of our future.

March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory
March 26 2011-UK Uncut. Photography by Amelia Gregory

Further reading:
Why Fortnum & Mason?
Video footage from the UKuncut action
An open letter from the Brighton Solidarity Federation of Anarcho-Syndicalists
People are worth less than property
A night in the cells is nothing to a lifetime imprisoned by cuts
Reasons why the cuts are a bad idea
Dominic Campbell experiences police brutality in Trafalgar Square
Political Dynamite: We should use the word violence with the greatest care.
Leah Borromeo: Protestors can’t disown the “violent minority”.
Why the UKuncut arrests threaten future protests
What is the Black Bloc? Information page.
Laurie Penny – What really happened in Trafalgar Square
My UK Uncut arrest made me a political prisoner
Climate Camp 2010 in Edinburgh – my commentary
Climate Camp 2009 in Copenhagen – my commentary part one, part two and part three.
G20 Climate Camp in the City – my commentary
Ratcliffe: Did PC Mark “Flash” Kennedy ensure my arrest as one of the Ratcliffe 114 ?- my commentary
Climate Camp at Kingsnorth in 2008.
One of the first UK Uncut protests: Sir Philip Green and his Topshop billions get the UK Uncut treatment.
The Third Estate: A message to Critical UK Uncut activists.
Latent Existance: a report by the 15 year old who was arrested.

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10 Responses to “UK Uncut, Green & Black Cross, Black Bloc & the March for the Alternative.”

  1. Antonia says:

    Thanks Amelia, an excellent overview of the entire day. Ax

  2. Old Holborn says:

    Excellent. “Anarchists” arguing for bigger state and more taxes. You cannot make this stuff up.

  3. RooftopJaxx says:

    @ Old Holborn : but it seems you can and do rely on making loads and loads of stuff up?

  4. SkipLicker says:

    Every child killed by allied forces in Iraq was killed by Tax bought weapons.. Bravo Amelia and UKUncut – you want more…

  5. Ellie says:

    Superb, accurate and thoughtful coverage. Thanks Amelia.

  6. Sciamachy says:

    Old Holborn – They’re arguing against cuts to the status quo & sell-offs to private industry & finance. Left-wing anarchists opposing corporatism? Of bloody course. Not their end goal, of course.

  7. Sean says:

    Great article, great photos.

  8. RooftopJaxx says:

    @ skiplicker how on earth did the news reach you under that stone where you reside that Amelia and ukuncut are campaigning for more weapons and other militaristic shit? are you so very drunk, so misinformed, or just another sad old troll?

  9. Caroline says:

    @oldholborn you’ve just got the hump because your last blog post has only been tweeted 4 times

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