Decades ago, Notting Hill/Ladbroke Grove was the hippest part of
London: a warren of squats, not quite legal after-hours drinking dens, hippies, proto-punks and political activists. This exhibition at London Print Studio is a commemoration of the posters and printed ephemera of this scene shown along side similar artwork from around the world and from more recent times.
This is art born out of necessity; work that says it doesn't actually have to be this way. Let's face it if we listened to the 'yeah, but that's just the way it is' people we'd have never emerged from the stone age, let alone have such things as the vote for women, or anti-child-labour laws. But we digress. This show is a collection of superb artwork. Mostly in the form of activist posters about a range of things including apartheid South Africa, the oppression of women, Thatcher, "accidental" death of people in police custody, and the Iraq war. There is also a collection of political books on show, and even a couple of protest films. You'll recognise such names like Adbusters, Jamie Reid, James Cauty or John 'hoppy' Hopkins (to name but a few) amongst the creators of the work.
The quality of the work stands out. It's not worthy for the sake of it. It's exciting and inspiring both visually and intellectually, even if you disagree with the politics behind the pieces. There's not a single uninteresting piece in here, even the footage of 90s road protests and more recent anti globalization protests was fascinating as historical document. In fact our only gripe was that we wanted to see more of it.
By Oliver Gili
"Agitpop" is at the London Print Studio, 425 Harrow Road W10 from 14 February to 31 March.
Image author's own.