Thursday, January 18, 2007

Brian Haw at the Tate

ARTIST Mark Wallinger has filled the Duveen galleries of the Tate Britain art gallery with a reconstruction of the array of flags, placards and posters that peace protester Brian Haw has displayed for years now in Parliament Square.
Haw’s display has been a thorn in the side of the Government for years and many attempts have been made to have it removed. Parliament even passed a law banning unauthorised demonstrations within a mile of Parliament specifically to target Brian Haw’s static protest.
But this failed because it applied to demonstrations from the date it was passed and Brian Haw’s demonstration began long before that and has been continuous ever since.
Nevertheless the authorities have now managed to restrict the size of Haw’s display to just three metres, which once took up a whole side of Parliament Square.
Now the surplus placards and banners are given full space inside the art gallery – which is within the one-mile radius of Parliament. Visitors are warned that some of the photographs on display are “disturbing”; they include pictures of children born with birth defects in Iraq and Afghanistan after their home districts were contaminated by depleted uranium weapons.
Wallinger said: “It kept being described as an eyesore when it was in the square. I don’t know that Baghdad is in comparison. I did feel the need to do this quite badly. I thought of it some time ago, before I was asked to do something for the Duveen galleries but it needed a really large space. When we measured I was amazed to find that it would fit perfectly.”
He has recreated the original display exactly but with the addition of black tape on the floor, to mark the boundary of the exclusion zone.
Brian Haw commented: “They’ve done me proud.”