ABC Prisoner Art UK Tour
SEPTEMBER 2012: London – Colorama #2
OCTOBER 2012: London – Freedom Bookshop (London ABC)
NOVEMBER 2012: Cardiff – Red & Black Umbrella (Cardiff ABC)
DECEMBER 2012: Nottingham – Sumac Centre (Autonomous Nottingham)
JANUARY 2013: Bradford – 1 in 12
FEBRUARY 2013: Liverpool – Next to Nowhere
MARCH 2013: Brighton – Cowley Club (Brighton ABC)
APRIL 2013: Plymouth – Venue TBC
MAY 2013: Bristol – Emporium (Bristol ABC)
JUNE 2013: Belfast – Warzone Collective
JULY 2013: Dublin – Seomra Spraoi
After a debut viewing at Kebele Social Centre in Bristol, the Anarchist Black Cross Prisoner Art Exhibition in September 2012 began it’s UK tour; visiting 13 venues in 10 cities across England, Wales and Ireland over 11 months. The exhibition features over 30 pieces, as well as poetry, from current and past radical prisoners including – Phil Africa, Peter Collins, Lucy Edkins, David Gilbert, Alvaro Luna Hernandez Hier and Thomas Meyer-Falk. The tour aims to show the artistic and poetic talent of those behind bars, as well as highlighting the political cases of the prisoners themselves. Additionally the exhibition features a wealth of sketches and writings from a Close Supervision Centre (CSC) prisoner, yet to be revealed.
Commenting on the art exhibition in July 2012, Ben Gunn a recently released lifer who spent 33 years inside said; “In attempting to see into the darkest corners of the states activities, we are privileged to have the spotlight provided by prison artists… Struggling to obtain their bare tools for creativity they tower above their captivity to reveal their unique perspective – I hope that their art invites you to think – and be moved to ACT.”
Since the beginning of the 20th Century the Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) has been on the frontline supporting and showing solidarity for those imprisoned for struggling for freedom and liberty. The organisation has by many states been deemed illegal, “terrorist” and many members have been tortured, killed, arrested, imprisoned, and fled persecution. ABC in the early years took part in the 1905 Russian Revolution (where six members were imprisoned), organised defensive units under the anarchist Black Army in Ukraine, fought against the Bolsheviks regime a decade later, and aided anarchists fleeing fascism during the Spanish Civil War and Second World War in the 1930’s.
After it’s revival in 1967 in England to aid prisoners of the Spanish resistance, ABC eventually grew into a global network of anarchist prisoner support groups; organising international days of solidarity, letter writing nights, prison demos, financial aid for prisoners, art shows, supporting struggles inside (and on top) of the prisons, and much more.
With this tour we therefore distance ourselves from mainstream, state-funded prisoner art shows, such as the exhibition launched in London by Koestler Trust this month, campaigning instead for abolition of the prison industry and all states. Or as social prisoner John Bowden puts it: “There are frontlines of class struggle thoughout the whole of society, violent interfaces where the poor and their oppressors confront each other, and prison represents one of the most overt and undisguised frontlines of class struggle that exists.” – Solidarity without prejudice article, 2009.
Contributors wishing to be listed:
- Phil Africa (from the MOVE family) – The MOVE 9 are innocent men and women who have been in prison since 1978 following a massive police attack on their home in Powelton Village (Philadelphia). This was seven years before the government dropped a bomb on MOVE, killing 11 people, including 5 babies. Following the cop shot dead during the August 8, 1978 police siege on Move’s headquarters in West Philadelphia, MOVE members Janine, Debbie, Janet, Merle, Delbert, Mike, Phil, Eddie, and Chuck Africa were convicted of 3rd degree murder, conspiracy, and multiple counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault. Each was given a sentence of 30-100 years and are contesting both the evidence and the fairness of the MOVE 9 trial.
- Peter Collins – Peter is in the 29th year of a Life 25 sentence in Canada. He completed his correctional plan in 1998, and has participated in many positive and pro-social activities while inside. Peter is currently suffering from the effects of long-term incarceration, his support committee are currently campaigning to get full parole for deportation to England.
- Lucy Edkins – Although Lucy’s experience of incarceration fades over 20 years into the past, the impact on her life still has reverberations today. Lucy went to art school before her imprisonment and continued to paint throughout her sentence, initially swapping pictures of loved ones for tobacco and going on to get a self portrait accepted by the National Portrait Gallery for its 1991 Summer Exhibition. In 2004 her affinity with prisoners helped her to illustrate the harrowing report charting the human rights abuses suffered by the Tipton Three at Guantánamo Bay, capturing international attention; she subsequently illustrated reports on the SIAC detainees at Belmarsh and the forced removals of asylum seekers. Her drawings of women at HMP Holloway were used to illustrate a book on suicides in women’s prisons ‘Dying on the Inside’. Currently Lucy exhibits and works for commission producing landscapes, sculptures and portraits.
- David Gilbert – David was a founding member of Columbia University Students for a Democratic Society and a member of the Weather Underground Organization. After eleven years spent underground, he was arrested with members of the Black Liberation Army and other radicals following an armored car robbery in 1981. He is currently serving 75 years-to-life.
- Alvaro Luna Hernandez Hier – Alvaro is a Chicano-Mexicano activist and political prisoner serving 50 years in prison for an alleged assault on an Alpine police officer. He has been long-time anti-police brutality and prison abolition activist, which has led to constant harassment by local and state police in west Texas. He was sentenced in 1997 for defending himself by disarming a police officer drawing a weapon on him (unarmed). The trial evidence clearly showed Alvaro was the victim of “witchhunts” and a police-orchestrated conspiracy to frame or eliminate him.
- Thomas Meyer-Falk – Thomas was imprisoned in 1996 for a bank robbery in aid of political projects, and since September 1998 has been in isolation in Bruchsal, Germany. He self-identifies as a “red skin”/rash (red & anarchist skinheads).