On exhibition this week at London College of Communication is a series of eight iconic Face Shields and four panels from the Time2Act exhibition from Climate Camp 2007 at Heathrow Airport. Both bodies of work are important artefacts from the recent history of environmental activism in the UK.
The Face Shields
were used as part of a mass action at Heathrow against the proposed third runway. The shields featured large-scale pictures of real people whose lives had been affected by climate change. These images were put on cardboard boxes, and handles were attached to the backside. Inside the cardboard boxes was not only stuffing to protect protester from police batons, but pop up tents. In this fashion the tents were able to sneak past police lines and once at the targeted destination, British Airport Authority, they were used to camp overnight forming a blockade. Such occupations by Climate Camp are a precursor to the occupy movement.
The Time2ACT exhibition documents the 2007 Climate Camp, its main themes and its organisational strategies. Four panels from a much larger exhibition are on display at LCC. These panels illustrate: taking the site, building the site and the mass action. Climate Camp successfully focused attention on the proposed third runway and demonstrated how people can organize movements of resistance when political processes fail to take the well-being of the planet into account.
The Camp for Climate Action (2006-2011) was a grassroots movement of people willing to take non-violent direct action to stop a new generation of fossil-based infrastructure. Each year for five years Climate Camp set up a week-long camp outside a target to draw attention to runways (Heathrow), coal fired power stations (Drax and Kingsnorth), carbon trading (City of London) and dirty banking (Royal Bank of Scotland).
Update – One of these shields has now been acquired by the London Museum for their permanent collection on the history of social movements.