ACTION! ︎ HOLLY GRAHAM ︎ACTION! ︎ HOLLY GRAHAM ︎
Artist Holly Graham is working with TACO! to research anti-racist community led action work in Thamesmead and the surrounding area in the early 1990s. This period saw a rise in racial tensions within the area but there is currently minimal documentation reflecting these rifts and the important community led responses to counteract them.
In 1991 a racist gang of young white men murdered a young black boy Rolan Adams. He was 15. This event took place within a climate of fear and tension provoked by the BNP. The murder received little media attention at the time. However there was a community led responce throughout this period that included a 1500 strong 6 mile walking march on the BNP’s offices in Welling, Bexley. Over the subsequant 2 years there was continued tension, but also strong community action and organising that culminated eventually in the 1993 Welling Riot and the clousure of the BNP Offices.
In this project Holly seeks address this gap in story-telling; speaking with local people and groups to collect information and material about how the racism and division at this time was responded to by members of the local community. Through a series of interviews and collection of materials, Holly aim to document the social actions taken by local people and groups in responce to divison.
The project aims to make this work visible so that It can viewed and understood in a wider historical context of activism and the tumultuous history of race relations throughout the UK more broadly, as well as outline practices of community organising that might be drawn upon today by others as in light of the ongoing social justice demands of the BLM movement.
The symposium-A Day of Action, exploring Anti Racism Community led action past and present was held on 11th June 2022. Speakers included Richard Adams, Dev Barrah, Giles Gabbon, Ann-Marie Cousins, Hannah Ismael and Aleema Gray.
Holly’s research will culminate in a series of artworks that will celebrate the actions of communities in take action against racism and finding ways to memoralize collective actions undertaken between 1991 and 1993 culminating with the Welling Riots.
Anti Racism March, Thamesmead, 1991
Holly graduated from MA Printmaking at the Royal College of Art in 2014. Recent exhibitions and projects include: To Us It Just Looks Like A Lemon: Bothy Residency, Southwark Park Galleries (2019); On Board II, Art Licks & Espacio Vista, Madrid; BOUNDS, Skelf, Online (2019); The Oval Window, Gerald Moore Gallery, London (2019); The Romance of Flowers, Kingsgate Projects, London (2018); Common Third, Copperfield, London (2018); Carefully Cleansed of Labour and Softened by Cooking, Compressor, London (2018); and Sweet Swollen, Jerwood Visual Arts: Project Space, London (2018). Holly is Head of Artist Development at Turf Projects, Croydon, and is Co-Founder of Cypher BILLBOARD, London.