The Masters

The most iconic demonstration pieces from the last 50 years give the inspiration for the Art of Protest project

 NOISE Art of Protest project highlights the art of positive and peaceful protest, the exhibition and brief includes work from renowned international artists who have produced some of most iconic demonstration pieces from the last 50 years. From street art to music, these leading creative talents have kindly allowed us to use thier imagery especially for the project and to inspire a whole new generation of peaceful, protest art.

The Masters are on display alongside over 50 Art of Protest project finalists and showcased as part of the final exhibition at The Peoples History Museum (Apr-Jun 13).

Graffiti Protest

Laugh now - banksy
Laugh Now, Banksy


Bansky is one of the biggest and most recognisable names on the street art scene. Born in 1974 in Bristol, his satirical stencil art covers issues such as politics, culture and ethics. The ‘Laugh Now’ piece often appeared as multiples like Andy Warhol’s prints.


Fashion Protest

58% Don’t Want Pershing, KathArine Hamnett


Katharine Hamnett is a British fashion designer best known for her political t-shirts and ethical business philosophy. She is a graduate from St Martin’s, and in the 80s her oversized t-shirts with huge slogans were emblazed on pop-stars such as Wham! and Queen.
In 1984, Hamnett met with then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, wearing her own t-shirt with the slogan "58% DON'T WANT PERSHING", a reference to polls showing public opposition in the United Kingdom against the basing of Pershing missiles in the country. Her bold t-shirt protest is genius in subverting what the Downing Street soiree was hoping to achieve.


Photography Protest


Gillian Waearing image
Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say, Gillian Wearing


 In a bustling district of South London Gillian Wearing stopped members of the public and asked them to write down for her what was on their mind; she then photographed this diverse range of people with different, and often surprising thoughts, needs and desires. Gillian says her collection “leaves a lot to the imagination, that's what art should do. It leaves you something to go away with, something to think about. It doesn't say: this is a story, completely, and this is my take on it.”
In 1997, Gillian Wearing won the Turner Prize, and was also part of the Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy, bringing her together with the group of Young British Artists who were leading the art scene at the time.

Gillian Wearing (Courtesy of the artist and Maureen Paley, London)


Happening and Installation Protest

John Lennon and Yoko Ono bed in - Tedd ChurchYoko Ono & John Lennon ‘Bed-In’


This photograph by Tedd Church documents the happening of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s week-long ‘bed-in’ at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, which was a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War. They used the publicity that their marriage would attract to bring focus on a war they didn’t agree with. They hoped to show peaceful protest could promote a peaceful resolution.

Beuys and Peiter protest
Daurer ich fuhre personlich Baader + Meinhof durch die Documenta V 1972, Joseph Beuys & Thomas Peiter

(Chip board, wood, felt, planks, c. 78-3/4 x 78-3/4 x 15-3/4 inches)

In 1972, Joseph Beuys wanted to lead terrorists Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof through the Documenta in order to re-socialise them. Artist Thomas Peiter met Beuys at the opening press conference. Peiter was dressed as the artist Albrecht Dürer and the two artists interacted with each other, Beuys saying to Peiter, “Dürer, I will lead Baader and Meinhof through the Documenta then they are resocialised again.”
Peiter then painted two boards with this message and carried them through the Documenta on poles. Beuys later put them together into a pair of felt slippers. Their performance was a spontaneous and symbolic expression of their need to protest against the atrocities of terrorism which was casting a dramatic shadow over the society they were living in at the time.

Music Protest

Billy Bragg image by Karen McBrideWaiting for the Great Leap Forward, Billy Bragg

(Workers Playtime, September 1988, Go! Discs, AGOLP 15)

Billy Bragg has always remained resolute to continuing the history of folk-music as protest. Since 1977, Billy Bragg has been writing and singing songs of passion and protest, and shows no signs of stopping.  Bragg has spoken out, both in person and through his song writing, against issues such as racism, sexism and homophobia. He is pro the concept of a multi-racial Britain and supporting the working class through crises such as the miner’s strike of the 1980’s, and is a supporter of the current Occupy movement.
The song 'Waiting for the Great Leap Forward' is the final track on Bragg's third album 'Workers Playtime', released in 1988. The title makes reference to the Communist movement in China, while the lyrics are a political call to arms, alluding to the Cuban Missile Crisis of the 1960’s. Bragg has described it as his "theme song", and it is perhaps the track he is best known for.


Fine Art Protest

Gary by Stella Vine image


Gary, Stella Vine

(Acrylic on hand-made paper, diptych.)

In ‘Gary,’ Stella Vine depicts a British man, Gary McKinnon, facing extradition since 2005 to the US for hacking into over 90 highly secure military and Nasa computers from the UK; in addition McKinnon has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.

In many of her works, Stella questions the power and the role that the media plays in promoting celebrity status; her past work has included iconic figures such as Kate Moss and Princess Diana.


Banner Protest

Ed Hall Brixton banner image
Various banners, Ed Hall

(Satin, cotton and fabric dyes and appliquéd using a sewing machine.)

Ed Hall began his career as an architect, working in Liverpool and London. Whilst working for the Borough of Lambeth in the 1980's, he became involved as a Union Rep at a time of great reform by the Tory government. Youth unemployment was high and riots were happening in Brixton. All of these factors contributed to Ed Hall becoming politicised and turning his energies to creating and producing banners for demonstrations and marches.


He has produced many banners for Trade Union Branches, alongside active groups such as CND, 'Stop the War' and 'The Palestine Solidarity Campaign'.

Artist Jermey Deller has included Hall's Brixton Bomb banner in the 'Intelligence' exhibition at Tate Britain in 2000, then toured with the same banner for the Folk Archive around Britain. Deller also featured one of Ed Hall's banners in his Turner prize-winning entry in 2004, and also collaborated with him for his 'Procession', in Manchester in 2009.


Massive thanks to all the artists that have gave their permission for NOISE to use their artwork for the Art of Protest project.