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Last updated:31 July 2015

Exhibition: Protect, by Al Johnson

Runs: From 5th Aug 2015 to 17th Sep 2015

Event time: 13:00 to 17:00

This installation by Al Johnson, shared between ourselves and the People's History Museum, celebrates the determination shown by the miners and their families against implacable political determinism during the Miners’ Strike 1984-1985.

The installation is on view whenever the Library is open, although we particularly encourage you to come during our 'drop-in' times of Wednesdays to Fridays 1-5pm.

Image from the exhibition

Artist's Statement: Al Johnson

I am a sculptor and I was commissioned by the Mitchell Arts Centre, Stoke-on-Trent, to make a new work to commemorate the 1984-5 miners' strike. Protect is the result of that commission.
The exhibition is currently on display at the People's History Museum and the Working Class  Movement Library,
I have had a longstanding interest in the mining industry and the events of 1984-5 are now seen as an enormously significant period in working class and trade union history.
The curved transparent police riot shield, that became an abiding symbol of opposition to the strike, will act as a central form for the installation. These freestanding objects, both riot shield and protective armour, are made from red stained plywood. On each shield a statement, slogan, or quote will evoke the mood and moment of the strike. The text used on the shields will reference the miners, their families and supporters, and visitors can move amongst the massed red shields as if moving against an oncoming tide. Text on a single shield will represent the government’s rejection of the miners' fight.
The installation celebrates the determination shown by the miners and their families, against implacable political determinism. In addition it references a parallel battle that was waged alongside the strike, a war of words from the media, the strikers, the police and politicians of all hues.
Protect is a reminder of the battle for jobs and communities, a commemoration, not only of the miners and their families, but of a time of great community solidarity.