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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Did PC Mark “Flash” Kennedy ensure my arrest as one of the Ratcliffe 114 ?

In April 2009 I was one of 114 activists arrested at the Iona School in Nottingham. Here's my account of what happened, and how PC Mark Kennedy came to be unmasked as an undercover police agent.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Woodberry Down girl by Romain Lambert-Louis, cost after ‘Jackie 1973’ by Erica Dobbs http://www.lambartillustration.com

http://www.serpentinegallery.org/2008/03/tom_hunter_a_palace_for_us8_de_1.html

It’s good Tom Hunter’s film is as good as it is, because the last time I queued this long there was a saint at the end of it. Pilgrims wait for hours outside the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela to hug the statue above the saintly remnants – last Saturday the patient patrons of a crammed Serpentine Gallery were rewarded not so much with a divine cuddle, but with a screening of Tom Hunter’s gem of a documentary.

‘A palace for us’ is set at Woodberry Down, a 2,500-flat council estate complex in North Hackney, up by Tottenham. Going back 50 years, Tom Hunter’s film uses current day narratives and recreated scenes to tell the stories of three people who have spent their lives at the estate. ‘When we came here we realised how lucky we were,’ says one woman. ‘There was central heating and a bath with hot and cold. It was like a palace for us.’ As the woman talks, we see reenactments of when her husband-to-be asked her to dance for the first time. ‘I’d never seen eyes like his,’ she says, smiling at the memory. ‘We have a very good marriage right to the end.’

Woodberry Down dancers by Willa Gebbie http://www.w-illustration.blogspot.com

Commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery and Age Concern Hackney, Tom Hunter made the film after spending time in residence at Woodberry speaking to residents about their lives at the estate. Their stories are lovingly told, reflecting Hunter’s in-depth knowledge of his subjects and the area. One of the film’s interviewees shares the story how he cowered in his bed as the area was bombed back in 1944. Born in Stoke Newington, the man was among the first to move into the Woodberry estate in 1948.

Woodberry Down man by Timothy Hunt http://www.ficklefate.co.uk

Built to meet a severe housing shortage during the war, Woodberry was presented as an ‘estate for the future’. Especially the interviewee born on the estate has good memories of growing up at Woodberry, telling stories of playing hopscotch in the alleys, climbing the apple trees and making perfume out of the rose petals growing around the estate. The sense of community is clear, with the residents taking turn mopping the stairs. Now the site is the subject of a major regeneration project, which will replace the most run-down flats and add several more as well.

Woodberry Down kids by Sandra Contreras http://haciendochiribitas.blogspot.com/

The original plan was to see Tom Hunter talk about the film as well, but the despite earlier assurances there was no need to book seats, a flushed gallery worker had to turn away a nearly 50-strong crowd on Saturday. The day’s long lines might have been a one-off, but those who still haven’t seen the film may not want to leave it until the last minute. Because it really is worth seeing, as what I remember even clearer than the queuing is how I wish the film had gone on for longer.

Tom Hunter by Kimberley Jenkins http://www.thesketchbookartist.co.uk

‘A palace for us’ shows daily until 20th January at the Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London W2.

Woodberry Down girl by Romain Lambert-Louis, pill after ‘Jackie 1973’ by Erica Dobbs

It’s good Tom Hunter’s film is as good as it is, because the last time I queued this long there was a saint at the end of it. Pilgrims wait for hours outside the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela to hug the statue above the saintly remnants – last Saturday the patient patrons of a crammed Serpentine Gallery were rewarded not so much with a divine cuddle, but with a screening of Tom Hunter’s gem of a documentary.

‘A palace for us’ is set at Woodberry Down, a 2,500-flat council estate complex in North Hackney, up by Tottenham. Going back 50 years, Tom Hunter’s film uses current day narratives and recreated scenes to tell the stories of three people who have spent their lives at the estate. ‘When we came here we realised how lucky we were,’ says one woman. ‘There was central heating and a bath with hot and cold. It was like a palace for us.’ As the woman talks, we see reenactments of when her husband-to-be asked her to dance for the first time. ‘I’d never seen eyes like his,’ she says, smiling at the memory. ‘We have a very good marriage right to the end.’


Woodberry Down dancers by Willa Gebbie http://www.w-illustration.blogspot.com

Commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery and Age Concern Hackney, Tom Hunter made the film after spending time in residence at Woodberry speaking to residents about their lives at the estate. Their stories are lovingly told, reflecting Hunter’s in-depth knowledge of his subjects and the area. One of the film’s interviewees shares the story how he cowered in his bed as the area was bombed back in 1944. Born in Stoke Newington, the man was among the first to move into the Woodberry estate in 1948.


Woodberry Down man by Timothy Hunt http://www.ficklefate.co.uk

Built to meet a severe housing shortage during the war, Woodberry was presented as an ‘estate for the future’. Especially the interviewee born on the estate has good memories of growing up at Woodberry, telling stories of playing hopscotch in the alleys, climbing the apple trees and making perfume out of the rose petals growing around the estate. The sense of community is clear, with the residents taking turn mopping the stairs. Now the site is the subject of a major regeneration project, which will replace the most run-down flats and add several more as well.


Woodberry Down kids by Sandra Contreras http://haciendochiribitas.blogspot.com/

The original plan was to see Tom Hunter talk about the film as well, but the despite earlier assurances there was no need to book seats, a flushed gallery worker had to turn away a nearly 50-strong crowd on Saturday. The day’s long lines might have been a one-off, but those who still haven’t seen the film may not want to leave it until the last minute. Because it really is worth seeing, as what I remember even clearer than the queuing is how I wish the film had gone on for longer.


Tom Hunter by Kimberley Jenkins http://www.thesketchbookartist.co.uk

‘A palace for us’ shows daily until 20th January at the Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London W2.
cure Little Rich Girls, more about 2010″ width=”480″ height=”654″ class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-31758″ /> Yinka Shonibare MBE, Little Rich Girls, 2010, Installation shot from GSK Contemporary – Aware: Art Fashion Identity, Commissioned by the London College of Fashion and the Royal Academy of Arts, © The Artist, Photo: Andy Stagg, Courtesy Royal Academy of Arts, London

In 2009, the Royal Academy of Art’s winter exhibition, Earth: Art of a Changing World featured a selection of artists engaging with the physical impacts of Climate Change. For 2010 the Royal Academy turned it’s attention to the subject of identity and clothing in the reductively titled; Aware: Art Fashion Identity. Broken down into three segments; Storytelling, Building and Belonging and Confronting, the exhibition endeavors to examine the possibilities provided –as explored by artists and fashion designers- by clothing to reveal and conceal our cultural and physical identity.

A new commission from Yinka Shonibare focused on cultural perceptions which turn out, under closer examination, to be false. Shonibare’s ghostly installation reveals the origination of batik pattern synonymous with African tribal patterns, to be in fact from Holland. The pattern makers sold the fabric to Africa once a European buyer could not be found.

Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, 1965, A film by Albert and David Maysles of Yoko Ono’s performance of Cut Piece at Carnegie Recital Hall, New York, 21 March 1965, 16mm black-and-white film with sync sound, transferred to DVD, running time 9’ Courtesy of the artist

After entering the Royal Academy via Burlington Arcade and walking up the stairs into the main exhibition space. The audience moves through the three sections in a circular motion; first encountering Storytelling (announced by the presence of an embroidered kimono by Grayson Perry) then Building and finally Belonging and Confronting. The audience departs Aware: Art Fashion Identity via the two of the exhibition’s most interesting works – both of which are nearing 30 years old.

Yoko Ono and Marina Abramovic’s performance pieces lay bare the artifice and cultural constructs which lay at the heart of both fashion and art identity. In the 9 minute video, Marina Abramovic and Ulay stand naked in a gallery doorway, forcing visitors to confront the physicality of the naked body, stripped of it’s adornments. Meanwhile in a video opposite Yoko Ono sits quietly on a stage whilst members of the audience snip her free from the garments of femininity. An exciting introduction to these two artists, it is a shame that more of their work was not included.

The limited inclusion of performance art is a lost opportunity, specifically because the four included pieces (Marina Abramovic Yoko Ono, Cindy Sherman and Mumbai) lend themselves vividly to the concept this exhibition was attempting to explore.

GSK Contemporary – Aware: Art Fashion Identity
Royal Academy of Arts, 2 December 2010 – 30 January 2011, Marina Abramovi?, Imponderabilia Performance 1977
Galleria Comunale d’Arte, Bologna © Marina Abramovi?. Courtesy of Marina Abramovi? and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York. © DACS 2010
Photo by Giovanna dal Magro

Cindy Sherman’s Paper Doll was located within the first room of the exhibition. An early video piece which lasts in it’s entirety of 2.30 minutes. Sherman questions the accepted (gender stereotyping) popularity of a child’s paper doll through the reduction of herself into an inanimate object. Whilst interesting to those who have encountered Sherman’s work previously, the singular nod does nothing to encourage the exploration of Sherman’s overture, including Untitled, a series of stills in which Sherman explores the relationship between the movies and societies ideas of femininity through feminine dress.

Cindy Sherman, Doll Clothes 1975, Stills from 16 mm film on DVD, © Cindy Sherman / Sammlung Verbund, Vienna / Sprüth Magers Berlin London

The final piece of video art that captured the attention is located within the sub-topic: Building. In 10 minutes Mumbai confronts the viewer with the appalling conditions required to produce the clothes we discard so readily and so frequently.

Throughout the exhibition nods are made to artists and fashion designers alike –a single McQueen stands in the corner devoid of its context within an entire collection, becomes a beautiful object, rather than a brutal critique on historical and modern notions of femininity. Within the white walls of the RA the identity of the dress becomes lost.

Alexander McQueen, Autumn Winter 1998: Joan, Photo © Chris Moore, Courtesy of Catwalking

An enjoyable exhibition, the problem appears to be that the art is spread too thin, interesting ideas are left hanging or barely graspable unless you enter the exhibition with prior knowledge of the artists or fashion designers gambit.

The final section of the exhibition briefly explores ideas surrounding Belonging and Confronting. Sharif Waked Chic Point is a video which places the daily humiliation the Palestinian man undergoes at the hands of Israeli checkpoints onto the catwalk. Personally, the work would have been more poignant if these clothes, which reduce the wearer to exposing various sections of flesh had been worn at a real or a recreated check point – highlighting the dehumanization that occurs as every man is treated as a potential terrorist. The photographs included at the end of the film and taken by the artist visualises the moment when clothes cease to become clothes and mutate into something fearful (whether imagined or not).

Sharif Waked, Chic Point, 2003, DVD, running time 5’ 27” Courtesy of the artist, Photo Sharif Waked

Coco Chanel suggested we “look for the woman in the dress if there is no woman, there is no dress” an idea taken up by Hussein Chalayan’s latest commission. In Son of Sonzai Suri, the fashion designer uses the 300-year-old Japanese tradition of Bunraku puppet theatre to lay bare the hidden puppeteers at the heart of the fashion industry.

Hussein Chalayan, ‘Son’ of Sonzai Suru, 2010, Installation shot from GSK Contemporary – Aware: Art Fashion Identity, Commissioned by the London College of Fashion and the Royal Academy of Arts, © The Artist, Photo: Andy Stagg, Courtesy Royal Academy of Arts, London

Aware: Art Fashion Identity closes with the aforementioned video pieces of Marina Abramovic and Yoko Ono. With the decision to close the exhibition here, it would appear that the critique of identity and femininity stopped in the 70’s. It could have been interesting to see a juxtaposition of performance art against the catwalk shows of Alexander McQueen or Maison Martin Margiela.

The exhibition closes on the 30th January.
Aware: Art Fashion Identity
Royal Academy
6 Burlington Gardens
London


Woodberry Down girl by Romain Lambert-Louis, buy information pills after ‘Jackie 1973’ by Erica Dobbs

It’s good Tom Hunter’s film is as good as it is, there because the last time I queued this long there was a saint at the end of it. Pilgrims wait for hours outside the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela to hug the statue above the saintly remnants – last Saturday the patient patrons of a crammed Serpentine Gallery were rewarded not so much with a divine cuddle, but with a screening of Tom Hunter’s gem of a documentary.

‘A palace for us’ is set at Woodberry Down, a 2,500-flat council estate complex in North Hackney, up by Tottenham. Going back 50 years, Tom Hunter’s film uses current day narratives and recreated scenes to tell the stories of three people who have spent their lives at the estate. ‘When we came here we realised how lucky we were,’ says one woman. ‘There was central heating and a bath with hot and cold. It was like a palace for us.’ As the woman talks, we see reenactments of when her husband-to-be asked her to dance for the first time. ‘I’d never seen eyes like his,’ she says, smiling at the memory. ‘We have a very good marriage right to the end.’


Woodberry Down dancers by Willa Gebbie http://www.w-illustration.blogspot.com

Commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery and Age Concern Hackney, Tom Hunter made the film after spending time in residence at Woodberry speaking to residents about their lives at the estate. Their stories are lovingly told, reflecting Hunter’s in-depth knowledge of his subjects and the area. One of the film’s interviewees shares the story how he cowered in his bed as the area was bombed back in 1944. Born in Stoke Newington, the man was among the first to move into the Woodberry estate in 1948.


Woodberry Down man by Timothy Hunt http://www.ficklefate.co.uk

Built to meet a severe housing shortage during the war, Woodberry was presented as an ‘estate for the future’. Especially the interviewee born on the estate has good memories of growing up at Woodberry, telling stories of playing hopscotch in the alleys, climbing the apple trees and making perfume out of the rose petals growing around the estate. The sense of community is clear, with the residents taking turn mopping the stairs. Now the site is the subject of a major regeneration project, which will replace the most run-down flats and add several more as well.


Woodberry Down kids by Sandra Contreras http://haciendochiribitas.blogspot.com/

The original plan was to see Tom Hunter talk about the film as well, but the despite earlier assurances there was no need to book seats, a flushed gallery worker had to turn away a nearly 50-strong crowd on Saturday. The day’s long lines might have been a one-off, but those who still haven’t seen the film may not want to leave it until the last minute. Because it really is worth seeing, as what I remember even clearer than the queuing is how I wish the film had gone on for longer.


Tom Hunter by Kimberley Jenkins http://www.thesketchbookartist.co.uk

‘A palace for us’ shows daily until 20th January at the Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London W2.
policeman undercover by daria hlazatova
Policeman Undercover by Daria Hlazatova.

One day a few years ago I agreed to go on an intrepid action to highlight the causes of climate change. I didn’t know where or what it would be, view but as a climate activist I trust the many people that I know who are willing to invest a huge amount of time, page effort and (often their own) money in taking action for climate justice. So it was that I came to be in the Iona School in Nottingham on Easter Monday, for sale 13th April 2009. In a hall packed full of committed climate activists I discovered the sheer scale of the unbelievably audacious covert operation and as I looked around I tried to imagine how we could possibly pull it off: we all suspect that undercover cops must operate within our networks. We were fed, given instructions concerning our target and duly sent to bed in one of various rooms in the school which had been hired out for the weekend. Having made sure that my day pack was ready (warm clothes, a book, some high energy food) I rolled out my sleeping mat, got into my pyjamas, stuffed ear plugs into my ears and settled down for a short night’s sleep before we headed down to Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal fired power station in the early hours of the morning.

Ratcliffe_Disaster_Victoria_Archer
Ratcliffe Disaster by Victoria Archer.

Ratcliffe has been the focus of quite a few climate change demonstrations, not least the Great Climate Swoop, a publicly advertised assault that took place on this huge coal powered station later in 2009. Ratcliffe-on-Soar was chosen because it is one of the biggest coal fired power stations in the UK and it’s owned by E.ON, who were the energy company behind plans to build a new coal fired power station at Kingsnorth (now shelved) and who were the focus of Climate Camp actions throughout 2008 and 2009. In the event of a successful shut down electricity for the surrounding area could easily be obtained from other sources.

ratcliffe by farzeen jabbar
Ratcliffe by Farzeen Jabbar.

As I went to bed there was an the air of the calm before the storm, especially after we received conflicting reports about a growing police presence near the power station. It just seemed so incredibly unlikely that out of the several hundred people involved in the planning of the action (including drivers, hosts, etc) no one could have let slip our plans. Nonetheless I was tired and soon fell asleep.

A few minutes after I dozed off I was woken by my friend screeching POLIIIIIIIIIICE in my ear. No amount of deeply inserted ear plug was going to stop me leaping into immediate bleary eyed action as I realised that the entire building was surrounded and being battered from all sides. I just had time to struggle into some decent clothing before our room was filled with policemen who immediately handcuffed us all, regardless of our state of dress. I never knew I would find out what it’s like to be treated like a terrorist, but I can now safely tell you that I do. And it was utterly surreal. We were kept in our respective rooms (chosen for the type of action we would be taking) for what seemed like hours. As we waited we could hear people singing protest songs up and down the corridor. Domestic Extremists we might be. Your standard terrorists we ain’t.

abi daker Amelia gets arrested
Amelia Gets Arrested by Abigail Daker.

I was desperately keen to take my belongings with me as we were finally led out of the room – I’ve had previous experience of them being kept by police and I knew how long it would take to get them back (nearly a year as it turned out), but my arresting officer would not allow me to pick them up despite others being allowed to do so: the first sign of a somewhat shambolic operation with far from clear instructions.

Ratcliffe on Trial by Rukmunal Hakim
Ratcliffe on Trial by Rukmunal Hakim.

Things were shortly to get much more surreal. We were frogmarched two by two – handcuffed to our respective officers – into an impromptu photo studio that had been set up in the school nursery. Our mugshots were taken in front of the kids’ brightly coloured artwork before we were packed off into vans and taken to holding cells at police stations all over the city. I was held through the night and for most of the ensuing day. Being a well trained activist I kept to No Comment throughout my interrogation, though the investigating officer was very interested in my ear plugs (convinced they were a clue that I was headed to the noisy coal conveyor belt) and my Climate Rush badge (at that time I was still involved with the Suffragette inspired group).

My Mugshot by Alison Day
My Mugshot by Alison Day.

My DNA was taken before I was eventually allowed to leave, taking none of my belongings. I was simply ejected into the night. With no money and absolutely no idea where I was in Nottingham. Fortunately there was legal support waiting in the station car park and I was scooped up and taken to a safe house. I spent another night sharing a bed with an activist before hitching the first lift out of Nottingham. By this time I was desperate to get back to London because I was worried that my house would be raided – someone else had left a piece of paper with my details on in their wallet and it had been waved at me as evidence in the police station. I spent the next few weeks worrying whether I would be raided when my interns were in the house, thereby putting their computers at risk as evidence too. In the end my worries were unfounded, though many other people were raided.

Ratcliffe Trial by Matilde Sazio
Ratcliffe Trial by Matilde Sazio.

It has taken nearly two years for this case to come to court, during which time I have not been able to talk about it for fear of affecting the outcome for the 26 who were charged (out of the original 114 activists who were arrested). Many of those spent the better part of December 2010 fighting their case in court in Nottingham. Green Party leader Caroline Lucas gave a statement and James Hansen testified. Despite comprehensive evidence proving that the climate crimes of corporations such as E.ON are way worse than anything we were planning to do, the activists were all convicted and given a mix of fines, conditional discharges and community service. Maybe the jury was won over by the prosecution argument that we would have been better off spending our time getting Cheryl Cole to promote second hand clothing. Bleurgh. The judge did however praise the defendents for their “intelligence and dedication” – climate activists are certainly some of the most clever and interesting people I know.

GarethAHopkins_Police The Community Ignore The Environment
Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins.

Six more activists were due to go to court today with a defence of Not Guilty because they had not yet decided to take part in the action when they were arrested. It was set to be an extraordinarily interesting case that would challenge the excessively expensive largest ever pre-emptive arrest, which in retrospect seems to be have been designed to capture the details of the entire UK climate activist network in one fell swoop. But their plans have at the last moment been thwarted. The reason? Our very own police mole.

Ratcliffe by Gemma Birss
Ratcliffe by Gemma Birss.

A few months ago the indymedia networks were rife with the news that a climate activist mole had been unmasked. For seven years Mark “Flash” Stone (so called because he always seemed to have lots of cash) was a familiar face on the activist circuit until he was outed by ‘close’ friends who eventually became suspicious of him. He also happened to be involved in much of the preliminary planning for the April action on Ratcliffe: hosting meetings, driving trucks and planning to lead climbers up the huge chimney stack.

Now it is revealed that Mark has left the police force, apparently ashamed of the consequences of his actions. The Ratcliffe Trial blog states that he was even planning to provide evidence in favour of the defendants he did so much to help arrest back in 2009. However it appears that outside pressures (the police he used to work for? surely not) recently caused him to withdraw his offer. The case was then mysteriously dropped in its entirety after the defence pressed the powers that be for details of Mark Kennedy’s involvement in the initial planning stages of the Ratcliffe action.

climate change by Jane McGuinness
Climate Change by Jane McGuinness.

Even before today’s revelations it already seemed a sure bet that Mark’s insider knowledge helped to secure huge funding for the police raid, which cost upwards of £700,000 and ensured that officers were drafted in from across the county on huge overtime wages over Easter. That’s over £6,000 on the cost of arresting me alone. Not to mention the fact that the extremely expensive court case may have collapsed in its entirety had Mark’s involvement been known earlier. I can think of better ways to spend cash, can’t you?

GarethAHopkins_Police The Community Ignore The Environment
Police The Community Ignore The Environment by Gareth A Hopkins.

In the last year Climate Change has all but dropped off the mainstream media agenda and many of our most committed activists have been tied up in lengthy court proceedings. Yet climate change continues unabated. Next month Climate Camp will run a five day long event at Monkton Wyld Court in Dorset called A Space for Change, which will seek to “reflect and re-assess climate justice activism, re-dream what a radical movement can be and re-invigorate ourselves and our network.” There’s never been a better time to get involved in climate activism. You can find out more details here.

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6 Responses to “Did PC Mark “Flash” Kennedy ensure my arrest as one of the Ratcliffe 114 ?”

  1. Abi says:

    Very interesting look at what went on; I’m glad you made such a detailed account; it’s very interesting to hear.

  2. [...] Friday, I volunteered to illustrate a piece of work for Amelia’s Magazine. I’d been motivated to do this because of a tweet from The Mighty Pencil, a Twitter feed I [...]

  3. eddie walsh says:

    I am writing from Nottingham. Julia Hodson, Notts Chief Constable, must have known about Kennedy. She is either ignorant or incompotent, maybe both. As an irish person there is a more serious issue for me. How can a cop from travel to another jurisdiction and participate in protests against Shell in Mayo?

  4. [...] Her piece in Amelia’s Magazine is a personal account of the arrest, the events leading up to it, and her impressions of Mark Kennedy.  It’s definitely worth a read as a personal supplement to the numerous news stories and their latest developments.  It has some great illustrations too (especially the one by Victoria Archer): [...]

  5. [...] Her piece in Amelia’s Magazine is a personal account of the arrest, the events leading up to it, and her impressions of Mark Kennedy.  It’s definitely worth a read as a personal supplement to the numerous news stories and their latest developments.  It has some great illustrations too (especially the one by Victoria Archer): [...]

  6. pyjama says:

    Very interesting, I used to live on Greenwood Rd and remember it vividly..

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