Work Removed from Design Museum Over Arms Trade Links Put Back on Show by Artists in Massive Free Brixton Exhibition

Between 15-23 September the #NopeToArms Collective will hold a major exhibition during the London Design Festival. The exhibition, From Nope to Hope: Art vs Arms, Oil and Injustice, includes most of the art that was originally featured in the ‘Hope to Nope’ exhibition at the Design Museum.

The exhibits – which made up a third of the Design Museum exhibition – were dramatically removed on 02 August 2018 following revelations that on 17 July the museum hosted an event for Leonardo, a major global arms company. Leonardo has armed and supported human rights abusing regimes and dictatorships around the world; including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Philippines.

At the time that the artwork was withdrawn, the artists came together as the #NopeToArms Collective and released a statement that said:By being on your walls in the context of the Leonardo event, our work takes on a new meaning: of complicity in the arms trade. This is completely unacceptable to us… While our response to this issue has been unprecedented, the museum also has the opportunity to respond in an unprecedented way by making a public commitment not to take funding from arms, fossil fuel and tobacco companies.”

The artists have now reunited to display most of the works that were removed, and other pieces of activist art that have tried to influence politics, call out injustice and make the world a kinder, safer, more beautiful place. Entry to the exhibition, which is in the Brixton Recreation Centre (27 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8QQ) from 09:00-21:00 and is part of the Brixton Design Trail, will be free.

The exhibition features work by The Guerrilla Girls, Jeremy Deller, Shepard Fairey, Peter Kennard, Gee Vaucher, Milton Glaser, Jonathan Barnbrook, the Occupy movement, the Grenfell Wall of Truth, Dread Scott, Adbusters, Brandalism, the Craftivist Collective, Liberate Tate, Ritzy Living Wage campaign, Art the Arms Fair and many more.

Exhibits include the iconic ‘HOPE’ image that helped Obama win the US presidency, street art condemning police killings, posters challenging the culture of violence in Syria and a 40-foot BP sea monster smuggled past British Museum security. All of the art in this exhibition has been used on the frontlines of social justice struggles around the world to disrupt, resist, satirise and mobilise.

The exhibition will be supported by two other events, both of which are free:

  • Saturday 15th September, Launch party, 6-8pm, Brixton Rec Centre: An opportunity to meet the artists, activists and curators behind the exhibition and celebrate the art of resistance
  • Saturday 22nd September, Dirty cash: can artists clean up arts funding? (discussion) 2-4pm,  Brixton Rec Centre, Details: Speakers including Judith Knight (Co-Director of ArtsAdmin), Leah Borromeo (journalist and member of The Space Hijackers), Charlie Waterhouse (artist, This Ain’t Rock’n’Roll), Chaired by Jess Worth (co-director of Culture Unstained, member of BP or not BP?)

The artist Peter Kennard, who contributed a banner of his piece ‘Union Mask’, as well as three kennardphillips posters to the exhibition, said:

“The Design Museum, by holding an exhibition on the art of social and political action whilst simultaneously hosting arms manufacturers is an example of having your cake and eating it. But this time the cake spat itself out and is now on show in Brixton.

We are living in an age of global emergency. The Design Museum should be at the vanguard of thinking about design for a better future. But no, it is old school, still living in a past that separates art from action. It will happily let a major weapons manufacturer gain kudos from having a jolly in their museum, as if the death and injury of children by weapons in Iraq, Syria and Yemen matters less than getting a few thousand quid hiring fee.

Artists are the canaries down the mine; they think and act in times of emergency. Now, across the world, artists are campaigning against institutions that take money from the arms, fossil fuel and the tobacco industries. I withdrew my work ‘Union Mask’ from exhibition in the Design Museum permanent collection in solidarity with the Hope to Nope artists who are uncompromising in their belief that the art they make is not separate from the ethical values they hold.”

The exhibition is endorsed by Campaign Against Arms Trade and the Art Not Oil Coalition. The #NopeToArms collective have signed up to the Oil Sponsorship Free commitment not to take any fossil fuel money to support their work. They encourage all cultural organisations to do the same.