Do you remember Olive Morris? uncovers the largely untold history of Brixton-based activist Olive Morris (1952-1979). Developed by London-based artist Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre, this exhibition is the culmination of three years of artist and community-led research inspired by this remarkable figure in South London's recent history.
In her short life, Olive Morris co-founded the Brixton Black Women's Group and the Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent (OWAAD) and was part of the British Black Panther Movement. She campaigned for access to education, decent living conditions for Black communities and fought against state and police repression. Despite her young age, she empowered the people who lived and worked around her.
The exhibition at Gasworks traces the different phases and multiple collaborations within this long-term project, which was triggered by Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre's encounter with a photograph of Olive Morris taken by British Black Panthers' photographer Neil Kenlock. The photo shows Olive Morris standing at a Black Panther Movement demonstration in Coldharbour Lane in 1969, and holding a placard reading: “BLACK SUFFERER FIGHT PIG POLICE BRUTALITY”. Research into this particular moment in history led to a meeting with community activist Liz Obi, a friend and colleague of Olive Morris, who has since become a key collaborator in this project. More recently, the growing interest in Olive Morris led to the formation of the women's group Remembering Olive Collective which are working to restore the memory of Olive Morris and the issues she fought for.
Do you remember Olive Morris? brings together art works, films and historical photographs documenting the movements and campaign groups with which Olive Morris was associated. It also features archival material from the newly-created Olive Morris Collection, held at Lambeth Archives. The exhibition serves as a contextual backdrop for a weekly programme of events including walks, discussions, presentations, workshops and music evenings. These events have been devised by the Remembering Olive Collective around the issues she championed during the 1970s and remain significant today: from squatting and immigration, to self-education. A publication documenting the project as a whole will be launched in January 2010.
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