CAS @ Oil In A Teapot, Tate Britain

First appeared on Ctrl.Alt.Shift on Thursday 21 April 2011.

There’s nothing we like more at Ctrl.Alt.Shift than a quick bit of protest on our lunch break. That’s why Amy Hall jumped at the chance to head down to the Tate Britain this week and join climate change campaigners Climate Rush as they mourned BP’s sponsorship of the arts…

The sun blazed down on a crowded lawn outside the Tate Britain as members of Climate Rush gathered for an afternoon picnic, aptly named ‘Oil In A Teapot’, to mourn the lives lost in the BP oil disaster exactly one year ago.

But they were also mourning what they see as a cultural loss, showing their sadness that cultural spaces, such as the Tate, have to accept funding from companies with dodgy ethical reputations such as BP.

Dressed all in black, with their suffragette inspired red sashes, the group posed for photographs on the steps of the Tate along with artwork produced by artists from Louisiana which was greatly affected by the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

The paintings were then displayed alongside the picnic with and a version of a Turner painting, altered to show an oil spill. This was later delivered inside the Tate with ‘Love Oil Painting, Hate Oil Funding’ written on the back and a message asking them to stop accepting BP’s money.

Passers by couldn’t help but take a look at tea party (grabbing a cucumber sandwich in the process). Many people had never heard of the link between BP and the Tate and were intrigued to know more about why the group were there. The stunt was part of a wider week of action against the relationship between the arts and BP coordinated by Art Not Oil.

“A year ago today BP caused an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Jennifer Sherriff of Climate Rush. “80% of the oil is still in the ocean and toxic dispersants were used. BP has not only destroyed the environment of the area but 11 people died and livelihoods were ruined. They are still not paying the compensation they should be and are breaking the law.

“BP needs to stop trying to fix their image through corporate sponsorship. They need to be held to account.”

BP has described the last 12 months as Year of Change for the better. But many from Louisiana say their communities and livelihoods have been destroyed.

Since the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, the company has also started extracting oil in the Canadian Tar Sands a project not just controversial for its massive effects on climate change but also to the lives of First Nation communities who suffer high levels of cancer and devastation to their natural environment.

The First Nation communities from Canada have joined with those in Louisiana in solidarity in their campaigning.

Questions are again being asked about arts funding, especially in the wake of cuts to public funding for the arts. Should it matter where cultural spaces get their money from? Are companies like BP legitimising themselves in Britain while people across the globe suffer at their expense? And perhaps most importantly, does art have an obligation to be moral?

Find out more about the campaign at the Art Not Oil website.

Photos: Climate Rush

Craftivist Stitch-Ins For Fair Fares: Please Support them :)

I’m very excited to be going on the Railway Adventure on April 16. Here’s a blog from the Craftivist Collective on some stitch-ins and protest picnics happening at a station near you!

At 1pm on Saturday 10th April craftivists across the UK will join a nationwide protest to demand a halt to rail fare increases.  Currently the coalition Government plans to hike fares by 31% over the next 4 years. This is a huge issue and the Craftivist Collective would love you to support them.

The Craftivist Collective are supporting Climate Rush on the Railway Adventures campaign. Hundreds of craftivists (activists who protest using scissors, thread and fabric) will converge on railway stations across the UK for a super cute kitsch protest picnic and stitch-in.  They will be creating 4inch deep x 7inches wide fabric train coaches covered with statistics, facts, quotes and consumer views on our Government’s carbon-friendly transport policy, whilst drinking tea, eating jam sandwiches an

d talking about the issues. The various panels will be collated into a petition-train which will be taken on a Fair Fare Railway Adventure on Saturday 16th April.  It will be delivered to Philip Hammond MP (Minister for Transport) by direct action group: Climate Rush.

Sarah (Craftivist Collective) and Tamsin (Climate Rush) with their carriages

So far we there are craftivists coordinating stitch-ins in:

Brighton, Hastings, Coventry , Birmingham, Dorset,Leeds, Bristol, London, Manchester, Devon and Cornwall.

If you want to do coordinate a stitch-in near you please email craftivist-collective [at] hotmail dot com

They would love your support. Please join one of the pretty stitch-ins, set up your own or craft a carriage and post it to the Craftivist Collective before 15th April. You can find flyers, posters, content for our bunting petition, examples all here. They are also making an instructions video which will be available before end of March- watch this s

Philip Hammond MP, Secretary of State for Transport, said:

“Whether we like it or not, the ability to travel point-to-point on an individually-tailored timetable [i.e. in a car] is one of the great quality-of-life gains of the second half of the 20th century.”

Sarah Corbett, Founder of the Craftivist Collective, said:

“As the Craftivist Collective we are passionate about showing our love for local and global neighbours. These unfair fare increases will stop people using trains when we need help keeping our carbon footprints down. The increases will hit people living in poverty the most and stop them getting to their jobs and alienate them even more from society.

“Short-haul flights and cars shouldn’t be the cheapest most convenient option. Philip Hammond MP wants to hike fairs a massive 31% over the term of this Government. We’re here to demand fair fares and a sustainable alternative.”

On Saturday 16th April Craftivists with join Climate Rush on a Railway Adventure.  For more information please visit the Railway Adventure blog.