A history of Community Led Anti-racism in Thamesmead


Artist Holly Graham is working with  TACO! and the Thamesmead Community Archive, 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 hopes to 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. 

Holly’s research will eventually culminate in an artwork that will mark the 30th Anniversay of the Welling Riot in 2023. 


Do you know of, or were you involved in any efforts to heal local racial divisions in Thamesmead in the early 1990s?

Can you help us to tell this important part of Thamesmead’s story?

If so we’d like to hear from you.

If you would like to talk to Holly, contribute to the project or find out more information please contact Mat Jenner –

We are aware of the potential sensitive nature of this history, the experiences involved the and materials relating to it.  All enquires and correspondence will be treated confidentially.  Any contributions made to the project can remain anonymous if desired.


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.

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