Below - Chris Holden (kneeling centre left) in 1960 on one of the famous Annual Easter Alsermaston Marches against nuclear weapons, from the Atomic Weapons Research Establihsment in Berkshire to London. - c 52 miles/ 83 kms. Over 40% of the marchers were under 21.
I have not been an activist artist all my life. I was at Guildford School of Art in the 1960's taking a Fine Art course. After this I trained as Conservator/Restorer of paintings at the Tate.
Compulsory retirement at 60 motivated me to create my own art to keep occupied. Some years before retirement, I did small drawings & paintings of landscapes & townscapes, some of which were exhibited.
The on-going Balkan war in the 90's is when the activist art began & continued into the new millenium, inspired by the atrocities reported in the media & confirmed during protest rally speeches & demonstrations in London. Other events unfolded. the War on Terror, World Financial Crisis and Climate Change. plus the censorship, misinformation & surrounding lies. Investigative journalism from alternative media, documentary films, helped high-light these. The challenge was to try and use art as a medium. Many artists at the begining of their careers have been reluctant to tackle controversial & emotional subjects which are not considered 'proper art'. Activist art has a significant place in the history of art and in awareness of the young generation.
I became interested & motivated in trying to create this art because of family background and upbringing. The family were quite radical & progressive, sympathetic to the Quakers ( I was educated at a Quaker school from the age of 12). My father ws a second world war concientious objector & a grandmother had been a suffragette in the early part of the 20th Century. An uncle who had been on the front line in WW1, spent the rest of his life helping children affected by war. Changes in in the 1950's & 1960's, made radical influences in my life. The Cold War, nuclear poliferation & testing, and the Vietnam War, politicised many of my generation. An uncle by marraige, was a founder member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmanment (CND) & my sister was chair of a London CND regional group. At this time I went on many CND & anti-Vietnam war demonstration, including the famous annual Easter four day Aldermaston Marches.