Greenham Peace Women an integral part of Newbury’s history

By on September 4, 2021 0

Jemima Brown’s Peace Camp Project celebrates the women of Greenham Common at locations in and around Newbury. The exhibit at the West Berkshire Museum, along with satellite exhibits around the city, marks the 40th anniversary of the 1981 arrival of the peace camp at Greenham Common.

In 2011, on the 30th anniversary of the anti-nuclear protests at Greenham Common, Oxford-born artist Jemima Brown embarked on a work of sculpture and installation, depicting the women of the Greenham Peace Camp.

The sculptures, made about a third the size of life, merge figurative portraits with found objects – thermoses, cyclone lamps and camping stoves, replacing parts of the body.

Alice in the Empire Café, photo Jemima Brown

This year, in her work, she explores childhood memories of being on the outskirts of the Greenham protest and contemplates its significance in turbulent times 40 years later.

“In view of the global situation, it is timely to note the direction of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, as the 2021 Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill underlines the precarious state the right to demonstrate. Now is perhaps a particularly good time to look back on the events of Greenham Common 40 years ago. »West Berkshire Museum.

Other artwork can be found at Old Chapel Textile Center and The Green Sewing Shop (until November 30), Corn Exchange and Empire Cafe (until October 15), Honesty @ The Base Café (November 20) , Newbury Library (until November 30), Greenham Control Tower (September 4 to November 28), Runway Gallery, The Base (October 15 to November 30) www.westberkshireheritage.org / west-berkshire-museum

Mom, photo Shaun Vincent
Mom, photo Shaun Vincent

Critique of the Jemima Brown Peace Camp by Lin Wilkinson

The West Berkshire Museum hosts the work of Jemima Brown, marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham Common, one of the many related events and shows in and around the city.

Acting almost as a foretaste of a new exhibition by the artist, which will open in Gallery 5 of the museum at the end of the month, Brown has here interspersed eight small sculptures of women from the peace camps, alone or in pairs, without explanatory labels, in the museum’s permanent collection. The camps are thus presented as an integral part of Newbury’s history, and not as something outside of it.

The scale of naturalistic figures increases their quiet and determined presence. They are skillfully made, as are the clothes they wear; overcoat, woolen hats, scarves and gloves – the goal was warmth and comfort. Two figures are lying fully dressed in sleeping bags, on makeshift mattresses and tarpaulins.

Collette, photo Shaun Vincent
Collette, photo Shaun Vincent

Found objects relating to life in the camps – thermos flasks and a small Camping Gaz stove – serve as both feet and plinths for the characters. Pieces of cut wire mesh lie beside a sleeping figure; bolt cutters were a powerful symbol of protests.

The slogans on the tiny, handcrafted badges the characters wear, mostly in favor of the CND and the broader anti-nuclear movement, also show that gender politics has been merged with the political ideology of the camps: Gays Cruise is a game. clever verbal about both missiles and sexual politics.

Two figures are placed next to a larger exhibit, part of the museum’s permanent collection, which gives detailed information on the protests of the peace camps and their place in international politics at the time, including the numerous arrests and convictions of demonstrators.

Joëlle, photo Shaun Vincent
Joëlle, photo Shaun Vincent

The camps grew out of the Cardiff Women’s March for Peace in October 1981, following the government’s announcement the year before that Cruise missiles were to be installed in Greenham. The first camp spawned more around the perimeter of the base, and the display includes a tent, banner, and photo of the “Hands Around the Base” protest, when protesters formed a 14-mile human chain. around Greenham, AWRE Aldermaston and the Burghfield gun store. Lynette Edwell was a prominent local protester, and the display includes her coat and hat, as well as the megaphone she used when the women clashed with the Cruise missiles during an exercise.

Jemima Brown’s Gallery 5 exhibition will open on September 24.
Both exhibitions will run until April 30, 2022.

Museum opening hours:
10 am-4pm, Wednesday to Saturday.

Alice, museum box, painting Jemima Brown
Alice, museum box, painting Jemima Brown
Mel, photo Shaun Vincent
Mel, photo Shaun Vincent
Julia in a museum case, photo Jemima Brown
Julia in a museum case, photo Jemima Brown




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