I have painted hundreds of banners over the years, and show a few of my favourites below.
Most are painted with acrylic paint (water-based and expensive, but quite weather-proof) onto old sheets or curtains or cheap sheeting material. A few are not painted but printed by commercial printers (usually Seacourt who can do a very eco-friendly non-PVC banner for about £60/m2).
Banner for the Oxford Disco Soup collective – a project of Abundance Oxford and Good Food Oxford – part of the Pumpkin Festival, where we are asked to “squash food waste”. Disco Soup is a gathering of people who prepare a wholesome vegan soup using food that would otherwise go to waste. The soup is offered to anyone who wants some, for free. All this happens to bouncy live (and recorded) music in the hope that folks dance, chat and enjoy a ‘meal together’. The underlying message is that we can and should throw less food away. The photo above shows the banner hung behind the stage area for Oxford’s third Disco Soup – it was a great success feeding over 800 people. Green TV made a short film about it here.
Banner for the folks at BP-or-not-BP and ShellOutSounds who invaded the launch party of the new Rembrandt exhibition at London’s National Gallery yesterday (14 October 2014). They performed a short and fun ‘faustian’ theatrical show with masks and costumes criticising the National Gallery for accepting Shell sponsorship and for planning to privatise about two-thirds of their staff. G4S and Serco, infamous for ‘running’ prisons and refugee-detention-centres, are likely bidders for the contracts. This action was done in solidarity with PCS union, who today are on strike over the proposed privatisation / sackings. See a full description of the stunt HERE – including a short video, and the script from the performance. Well done to all involved!
Oil in the water – Shell banner
I made this simple banner last week for Shell Out Sounds, who used it to politely demonstrate at a Shell-sponsored performance at London’s South bank Centre. The 15-strong choir suddenly stood up in their seats behind the stage, in full view of the audience, and began to sing just before the main show was about to start. They launched into a version of the classic spiritual song Wade in the Water, with rewritten lyrics drawing attention to Shell’s ‘controversial’ human rights and environmental record. Here is a good video of the action:
The audience listened and clapped along as the choir sang verses based on Shell’s polluting activities in the Niger Delta, the Canadian tar sands and the Arctic, and applauded as the singers unfurled a banner reading “Oil in the Water” and bearing an evil-looking Shell logo. There was further applause as the song ended, and the choir then proceeded to the bar where they performed again before leaving the building. Security guards looked on but did not interfere. Photo of action by Hugh Warwick. The flyer that was handed out at the event, and the lyrics of the altered song, together with lots more info on Shell’s activities are on the Shell Out Sounds website. I am reminded of the words of Ken Saro-Wiwa (the murdered Nigerian poet and anti-shell activist) who said: “You cannot have ‘art for art’s sake’…art must do something“.
In January 2014 we learned that the South Bank Centre would no longer let Shell sponsor their shows. After nearly a decade of protest… we won! Poeple power!
This is a 3-meter long banner that I designed for SOFACoMAC. We got Seacourt to print it on a new special PVC-free material. Seacourt are one of the ‘greenest’ printers around and their non-PVC banners cost about £50 per square meter. It’s made of a polypropylene which is non-toxic, “recycle-able” and while still a petroleum product, its manufacture is a lot less harmful to the environment than PVC banners. Below is the matching A-board I made. The hemp-rope ‘hinges’ slide across so the rig can either open from the top, like a standard A-board as shown, or it can be hinged from a side, allowing the structure to wrap around a tree or lamp-post if needed.
This long banner was made in 2009 for Radical Routes. It has a main central section that fits on the front of a standard ‘stall’ table, while the two ‘side’ sections then handg on each side of the table. In some settings the full length banner can be displayed. BTW: Putting a banner up on wall behind a stall is often much better than hanging it from a table front because once you have a few people standing in front of your table, they obscure the banner. It is wise to use a permanent marker and write a contact phone or email address on the back of banners, especially when many different people are likely to borrow / use it!
This banner was painted on a square of flourescent fake fur in 2004 for Hammer & Tongue, Oxford Slam poetry posse. The performer on the left is Scotland’s finest Elvis McGonagall (often on Radio 4 apparently), while the chap sharing the stage and politely reading a book on the right is Bristol’s A. F. Harrold. They were performing at the wonderful 2-day poetry extravaganza called the “Live Literature Arena” at the Rotunda, Grove House in East Oxford.
This small banner was displayed outside the court of another appeal hearing for the B52. (see explanation below, by 2003). Apparently the prosecuting lawyer asked the judge to do something about this “contemptible banner” that was hanging outside the court. The judge refused saying that he thought it was “quite funny”.
This large banner was commissioned by the late great Guy Hughs. He had asked me to paint this onto the side of a large orange mini-bus that People & Planet had bought, in order to travel around the UK on a ‘Trade Justice’ Roadshow. I had strong reservations about painting on a van – it would fix the artwork to always be outdoors, and also, I hated petrol-powered vehicles. So he got me to paint the design on a big sheet instead, which was used on the Roadshow, and also allowed the banner to get used indoors as well. I was delighted.
The B52 two were a pair of Oxford friends who sneaked into a
US airbase at the start of the US war on Iraq (March 2003) and
were arrested just before they managed to “disarm” a huge B52
bomber airplane, that was being used by the US to carpet bomb
The lads spent just over three months in prison on remand, and
were eventually found NOT guilty, and released.
History has shown that the war was illegal and led to the deaths
of hundreds of thousands on innocent people.
The series of B52two court cases got much media attention, and
inspired and informed many people. To this day, Blair and some
other ‘leaders’ of that time are living in fear of being prosecuted
for their role in the war on Iraq. Dick Cheney and George Bush
have been advised to not travel again to parts of Europe. Blair’s
autobiography was repeatedly moved by peaceful shoppers
from the biography section of bookshops over to the crime
The close up on the right is from the above banner.
Above is a poor photo of my first banner, hung from the tallest tree on the route of the Newbury Bypass, back in 1996. Below is a better photo of the banner. Newbury was an incredible campaign that saw thousands of people try to get in the way of building a bypass around the town of Newbury. An estimated 10,000 trees were cut down to make room for the new road, which was going to take about 2 minutes off the time it took for motorists to get through Newbury.
While the ‘Third Battle of Newbury‘ was a battle we lost, we sort of won the war, as in 1998 the Tory government cut most of their planned new roads. The new Con-Dem coalition government is trying to bring back many of these new roads and the tree-protesters are back! One of the first new roads to be contested is the Hastings-Bexhill bypass, being blocked by the Combe Haven Defenders.