Drawn to Witness

16-29 May
Memorial Art Gallery
7 Cambridge Rd, Hastings TN34 1DJ

Felling Hollington Valley_ Emily Johns

I have been drawing the changes in Hollington Valley nature reserve over the last year, from the end of one winter to the end of the next, as a struggle takes place between Seachange Sussex, Hastings Council and environmental campaigners about the building of another road. Not your idyllic Spring Watch in a Sussex bluebell wood but an observation of the processes that drive out protected species to prepare the land for tarmac. The drawing is a record of place, an act of witness of a heavy footprint, a capturing of spirit; it bears an imprint of conversations with local walkers, security guards, and residents of Emmaus.

See news report in Hastings Observer of how to draw surrounded by security guards

St Leonards Edgelands

st leonards edgelands ‘St Leonards Edgelands’ is a print installation, part of Point of Decay, made for the launch event of Coastal Currents Arts Festival in Bottle Alley, St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex, curated by Zeroh.

Bottle Alley runs along the southernmost edge of St Leonards and has decayed physically and socially since it was built in the 1930s. The images of caryatids and incident tape tie the coastal edge of the town to its northern edgeland, Hollington Valley nature reserve, which has been until a couple of months ago a home to animal, plant and human populations. Now it has been felled to make way for a road, two roundabouts and industrial estates. Edgelands are full of riches of one sort and another. Biodiversity or ‘development’ potential epnding upon your perspective. A legal challenge to preserve the northern edgeland has been launched. The prints on the southern edgeland decayed, peeled, and have now been removed.

The Tribunal

Continuing the celebration of anti-war activists of the First World War with a poster for Catherine Marshall, Violet Tillard, Joan Beauchamp and Lydia Smith who all worked to produce the No Conscription Fellowship newspaper The Tribunal. Violet Tillard, Joan Beauchamp were imprisoned for refusing to disclose the name of the editors and printers.

 

The World is my Country

Preliminary drawing for the Archibald Bodkin poster

A visual celebration of the people and movements that opposed the First World War, featuring the graphic art of Emily Johns

“[We] will break before we bend … The world is my country” – Derby anti-war activist Alice Wheeldon, who was framed for plotting to murder the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, in a letter from prison, February 1917.

The First World War centenary (2014-2018) will be accompanied by a tidal wave of events, exhibitions, TV series, books and commemorations. However, one key aspect of the War’s history is almost certain to receive little or no attention: the history and stories of the people and organisations that opposed the conflict.

Moreover, this history – of police raids and buried documents, feminist peace initiatives and clandestine printing presses, striking German munitions workers and communities of resistance in Huddersfield, Hackney, and Bradford (among other places) – appears to be largely unknown even to contemporary activists.

To help counter this omission Peace News (PN) will research and produce a series of ten highly-visual colour posters, celebrating key figures and events from the First World War anti-war movement – including figures and events from Germany & the Global South – bringing their stories and chutzpah alive for a new generation.

These posters will be distributed widely at WW1-related events throughout 2014 as well as serialised inPN itself.

If you would like to help fund this project and receive copies of the posters please go to Kickstarter

Emily's work desk & some preliminary sketches

Emily’s work desk & some preliminary sketches

Stories include:

  • a secret soldiers’ pact to shoot to injure rather than to kill;
  • the gleeful, even mischievous, appropriation of a pompous prosecutor’s words for use as anti-war propaganda;
  • the network of refuges for war resisters on the run in Sheffield, Liverpool, and Leicester;
  • the jailing of one of the century’s greatest philosophers (who had already been dismissed from his college and banned from “prohibited areas” amounting to one-third of Britain for his anti-war activities, and who subsequently managed to smuggle a letter out of jail, hidden in the uncut pages of the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society);
  • the conscientious objectors shipped to France and sentenced to death, saved by the sexual charisma of a famous aristocrat;
  • the Jamaican man who refused to be conscripted on the grounds that the European Powers “have oppressed and tyrranised over my fellow-men” while “I am not given ordinary privileges as a citizen”.

Victor Hugo

NEW BOOK

Victor Hugo’s wonderful long poem The Big Story of the Lion was written for his grandchildren. It has been newly translated by Timothy Adès and illustrated by Emily Johns. This thick concertina book published by Hearing Eye is available from Inpress for £6.