Bristol: VISUALISING BRISTOL’S HISTORY OF ACTIVISM

  Title: Ram Mohan Roy (1774-1833) Caption: Roy, a high caste Bengali Hindu, defied traditional taboos to travel to England, becoming friends with Bristol Unitarians who, like him, championed humanitarian causes. Revered today as the ‘Father of Modern India’, he campaigned against rigid caste distinctions, child marriage, purdah, widow burning (sati) and for the education of both women and men. He was buried after a short illness at Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol. Artist credit: Zamzam

When

2017

Where

Bristol

The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft (PRSC) ‘promotes civil liberty with a particular focus on public space.’ They worked with Journey to Justice in 2017 ‘to visualise Bristol’s history of activism and struggles for social justice.’

Their team of visual artists and ceramicists created mugs celebrating 12 activists in Bristol’s history whose contribution to social change has hardly been recognised.

The 12 commemorative mugs
Credit: People’s Republic of Stokes Croft
Title: Walter Ayles (1879-1953) Trade Unionist and women’s rights advocate. He came to Bristol in 1910 as secretary of the Independent Labour Party and was later elected a City Councillor for the Easton Ward, urging municipal ownership of energy and transport. Imprisoned as a Conscientious Objector during the first World War, he became a Quaker and served as Labour MP for Bristol in 1923 and in 1929-1931. Credit: Marcus Bo Lanyon
Title: Dorothy Brown (1927-2013) The ‘unstoppable guardian’ of historic Bristol, Dorothy Brown saved over 400 of the city’s historic buildings from demolition and helped to preserve the Avon Gorge and other public spaces from concrete, cars and vested interests. She died in Redland Library whilst working on her last campaign at the age of 86. Artist credit: Patch Plummer
Title: Princess Eldoris Campbell (1939-2015) Caption: Arriving from Jamaica in 1962, Princess Campbell successfully challenged the discrimination she encountered as a nurse to become Bristol’s first Black Ward Sister at Glenside Hospital. Princess helped to pioneer multi-cultural sheltered housing for the elderly in the 1980s. She continued as a community activist throughout her life, urging all to ‘stay and fight if you want to change things.’ Artist credit: Rachel Gadsden
Title: Mary Carpenter (1807-77) Caption: A champion of destitute children, committed Unitarian, and a leading light of the ‘ragged school movement’ in Bristol, Carpenter campaigned tirelessly for the more humane treatment of young offenders and child workers. She hosted African-American anti-slavery activists in Bristol from the 1840s and, inspired by Ram Mohan Roy, later travelled to India to promote women’s education there. Artist credit: Brook Tate
Title: Ellen Craft (1826-91) and William Craft (1824-1900) Caption: The Crafts escaped from slavery in Georgia in 1848. The light-skinned Ellen posed as a white male planter with her husband William as her slave, as they travelled by train and steamship to the North. In 1850, Bristol Unitarian John Estlin helped them flee to England to escape Southern bounty hunters and Mary Carpenter hosted them on subsequent visits to Bristol to address anti-slavery campaigners. Artist credit: Katraz
Title: James Crosby (1838-1901) Caption: In 1884, James Crosby’s pioneering series in the Liberal Bristol Mercury ‘The Homes of the Bristol Poor’ caused a sensation. The son of a Bristol mariner, his passionate and detailed depiction of the misery caused by the bad conditions in which so many Bristolians lived, helped to change government attitudes about the need for decent housing for the workers. Artist credit: object…
Title: Owen Henry (1928-89) Caption: Jamaican-born, Owen Henry came to Bristol in 1956 braving Teddy Boys and slum housing to co-found the West Indian Development Council which, in 1963, spearheaded the Bristol Bus Boycott Campaign against racial discrimination. By 1967 he was a major force behind the St. Paul’s Carnival and throughout his life challenged the unfair treatment of Black Bristolians. Artist credit: DNT Matchbox Gallery
Title: Batook Pandya MBE (1945-2014) Caption: At 17, Batook Pandya came to Britain, nearly a decade before other East African Asians arrived as refugees. A British Aerospace engineer who worked on Concorde, he left engineering in 1991 to become Director of SARI (‘Stand Against Racism and Inequality’) where until his death, he braved personal threats and violence to fight hate crime in Bristol. Artist credit: Micha Libert
Title: Jessie Stephen MBE (1893-1979) Caption: In her youth, Scottish-born Stephen was a suffragette and socialist organiser of her fellow domestic servants. She came to Bristol in her forties, where she worked for the Co-op, served as a City Councillor and in 1952 was elected the first woman president of the Bristol Trades Council. By 1971, she became a founding member of Bristol’s Women’s Liberation Movement. Artist credit: Luke Carter
Title: Ada Vachell (1866-1923) Caption: Suffragist and ardent Christian, Vachell was the first to set up a social centre for Bristol’s destitute disabled children in 1905. Its name ‘Guild of the Poor Brave Things’ (later ‘Guild of the Handicapped’) may now jar, but Vachell was visionary in choosing to see disabled people as individuals whose potential was suppressed by poverty and prejudice. Artist credit: Carmen Garaghon
Title: Ann Yearsley (1753-1806) Caption: The self-taught and impoverished wife of a Clifton small-holder, ‘the milk maid poetess’ of Bristol published “A Poem on The Inhumanity of the Slave Trade” in 1787 under the patronage of the writer Hannah More. A mother of 6, her star waned after her break with More and in the backlash against the French Revolution, but she survived as a radical bookseller in the Hotwells. Artist credit: Jono Boyle

The mug designs were also transformed into murals that lined the tunnels of the Bearpit underpass and roundabout in Bristol City Centre.

Title: Underpass murals
Photo credit: Martin Spafford

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