Amelia’s Magazine | Smash the Piggy Piñata at the Annual International Banking Conference

Piggy Pinata RBS UK Tar Sands Network
Photography by Amelia Gregory.

This morning I made an especially early start so that I could take a whack at a ‘piggy piñata’ outside the Annual International Banking Conference held in Threadneedle Street. Sometimes I think that I live just a little bit too close to the axis of financial evil that is the City of London, viagra buy but it sure makes it handy to get along to protests.

Piggy Pinata RBS UK Tar Sands Network

In collaboration with the UK Tar Sands Network, Climate Camp London decided it would be a good idea to swing by this conference – attended by RBS head honchos Stephen Hester and Gordon Nixon – as a preclude to the main national Climate Camp, to be held somewhere near the headquarters of RBS outside Edinburgh in Scotland this summer. You probably don’t need me to tell you that RBS was bailed out by the tax payer and is now 83% owned by us – yet the bank continues to invest in the Alberta tar sands, the most destructive fossil fuel process ever – as well as funding UK based fossil fuel extraction projects such as open cast coal mines. Yes, open cast coal mines really are reopening up and down our countryside, ruining not only the landscape but the health and happiness of locals: except in the 21st century huge diggers are used to slash open the landscape, instead of sending men down into the pits. And we have no say in this. Now don’t that feel a little unfair? For this reason RBS is the main target for Climate Camp actions this year and especially at our annual summer camp between 19th-25th August.

Piggy Pinata RBS UK Tar Sands Network

“Have a bash at the bankers,” we offered passers by as we swung at the rather impressive treasure box/piggy piñata with a not-nearly-as-resilient green plastic cricket bat. Many bemused bankers snapped up a copy of our Never Mind the Bankers paper, cunningly sold to them as a “Financial Times supplement” or “RBS newspaper” as they entered the venue, but the piñata piggy – despite the loss of it’s legs and head – was keen to hold onto it’s contents till the end. Will the RBS bankers keep flinging (our) dosh at fossil fuels extraction? Will they? Finally we were showered with… a batch of Oyal Bank of Scotland bank notes.

Piggy Pinata RBS UK Tar Sands Network

But this was just a warm up. Will you be joining us in August? Right now local groups up and down the country are arranging travel up to Scotland, so do find yours and get involved. If you’re based in London and would like to find out more about how to get involved in Climate Camp here you can attend a Welcome to Climate Camp session this weekend. Join the Facebook event here.

Piggy Pinata RBS UK Tar Sands Network

You can watch my qik video of the piggy bashing here and read more about the open cast coal mine at Merthyr Tydfil here – site of the Climate Camp Cymru last year. Find lots more about the tar sands all over my website… and check out the other amazing action that happened today… when activists from Liberate Tate paid a visit to the BP sponsored British Museum.

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…which followed another Liberate Tate action at Tate Britain a few weeks ago…

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Things be hotting up out there… don’t get left behind.

Categories ,Annual International Banking Conference, ,BP, ,British Museum, ,City of London, ,Climate Camp, ,Climate Camp Cymru, ,coal, ,edinburgh, ,Financial Times, ,Fossil Fuels, ,Liberate Tate, ,Never Mind the Bankers, ,oil, ,Piggy Piñata, ,RBS, ,Tar Sands, ,Tate Britain, ,Threadneedle Street, ,UK Tar Sands Network

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Amelia’s Magazine | Craftivism Direct Action against the Tar Sands: an interview with artist Lucy Sparrow

Image by UK Tar Sands Network, artist Lucy Sparrow, designer Daniel Sliwka

Yesterday I was alerted to an inspiring direct action designed to draw attention to the ongoing destruction involved with the extraction of oil from the Tar Sands in Canada. Together with the UK Tar Sands Network artist Lucy Sparrow created a large scale felted artwork. Lucy describes how she put her plan in action…

Image by UK Tar Sands photo by You and I Films

After nine intense days of frantic sewing and knitting, I made my way with the guys from the UK Tar Sands Network to Canada House to protest against the Canada Europe Energy Summit which brought together Canadian ministers and heads of big oil companies planning how to push highly polluting oil onto the world. Ironically, there was also an exhibition on embroidery happening at the same time within Canada House so they were surrounded by fabric from all angles.

I created a fabric oil spill that would seem like it was spilling out of the building scattered with dead animals, toxic waste and a big stitched oil refinery. I think that often the best way to get people’s attention is in the most visual way possible which also acts as a way to soften the blow for serious subject matter. It was an installation as well as a performance piece that lasted just over an hour and caught the attention of all the people arriving for the meeting. We thought that by placing the oil spill on every doorway, it would create an inconvenient obstacle and truth to those entering. It was an amazing collaboration to be involved in and really highlighted some important issues through the medium of felt and wool.

Image ℅ UK Tar Sands Network, artist Lucy Sparrow photo by Scott Cadman 4

What images and ideas inspired your craftivism piece?
I was particularly inspired by the vast landscapes of pure ruined earth. It’s that level of destruction that you can’t even fathom without having been there. It makes you feel very small, like a tiny ant in this huge colony of devastation.

How did you construct your artwork?
The main oil spills were made out of plain black cotton that I bought in a huge 100 metre roll. I then split this into three sections to sew together so I’d have a spill for each doorway that people visiting the meeting could possibly go through. We really wanted to cover all bases so that it would be symbolic of a dirty mess that you can’t escape.

Image ℅ UK Tar Sands Network, artist Lucy Sparrow photo by Scott Cadman

How long have you been involved in craftivism and how did you first get involved with the Tar Sands Network?
I think my work has always been involved with tackling big issues but I’d like to think that I go about it in a kind of ridiculous and humorous way. I think people underestimate the power of humour when approaching big subjects because anything else can seem preachy and hard to swallow. I’ve always made big things that demand people to look at them. They’re always very blatant, a little child-like and have faces. I think you can’t get outraged at something with a cute face. Suzanne Dhaliwal from UK Tar Sands Network and I met through a mutual friend and on first introduction, within 10 minutes, we were planning to make enormous felt seagulls to chuck off buildings in central London. I think it was inevitable that we would join forces eventually.

Image ℅ UK Tar Sands Network, artist Lucy Sparrow photo by Scott Cadman.jpg 3

What were the biggest issues you encountered in taking you art to Canada House?
The whole thing had to be kept incredibly secret so it was really hard creating all this stuff and not being able to talk about it but I think that served us well in that the Canada House security were probably expecting us to turn up with banners and signs. The police were there when we arrived but generally everyone was very accepting of what we were trying to do and I hope that in our creativity, we brought a smile to their faces and made them think a little.

What do you hope that this act of craftivism will achieve?
I hope that it will inspire people to accept that protest comes in all different forms. It’s not always a group of angry people with placards. When you meet anger with anger, the only thing that’s achieved is that you crash against each other. We’re simply offering them an alternative viewpoint which is sugar-coated so that they can accept the harsh realities of what they’re decisions are doing.

Image ℅ UK Tar Sands Network, artist Lucy Sparrow photo by Scott Cadman.jpg

Any other projects in the pipeline?
Many… so many. I’ve just completed a grant for the Arts Council today so I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed because if that goes ahead, it’ll be wall-to-wall felt for a good while. I’ve also just completed a series of buildings out of felt in a series called Ministructures with Time Out London so I’m hoping to take that to other cities… New York ideally…. although that will involve sewing a lot of windows…

Follow Lucy Sparrow on @sewyoursoul and the UK Tar Sands Network on @notarsands

Categories ,@notarsands, ,@sewyoursoul, ,Arts Council, ,Canada Europe Energy Summit, ,Canada House, ,Craftivism, ,Direct Action, ,Felt Artist, ,Lucy Sparrow, ,Ministructures, ,Suzanne Dhaliwal, ,Tar Sands, ,Time Out London, ,UK Tar Sands Network, ,You and I Films

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