Tuesday 28 December 2021

Brian Barnes obituary


This is the Guardian obituary of the artist Brian Barnes who was famous for 
his murals, mainly in and around Battersea in south London. He was a Green Party member. More details of his work can be found in

For Walls With Tongues Publication, £20 incld. p&P

For Walls With Tongues is a collection of essays developed from interviews with some of the mural painters active between 1966 and 1985 in the UK; supplemented with 5 essays about artists who we researched but could not interview and an essay by Professor Bill Rolston about external murals in Northern Ireland.

It is available from bookshops or directly from Greenwich Mural Workshop using the contact email from this website.

Priced at £20 including post & package. Payment can be made either by cheque sent to Carol Kenna, GMW, 78 Kinveachy Gardens, Charlton , London SE7 8EJ  or by BACS payment, details given on request.


Brian Barnes obituary

Detail from a Brian Barnes mural on a wall in Battersea, south-west London

Steve Lobb

Tue 28 Dec 2021 17.01 GMT


My friend Brian Barnes, who has died aged 77 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was a celebrated muralist and a leading light in the community arts movement. Warm-hearted, funny, outspoken and a hugely gifted artist, he created murals around south London for more than 45 years.

He was born in Farnborough, Kent, and raised in nearby St Paul’s Cray, the first child of William Barnes, chief executive of the Mullard electrical components company, and his wife, Eileen (nee Hiley), a seamstress at Morphy Richards. His parents supported him in everything and he had a happy childhood. Brian’s first school was Gray’s Farm primary, then Midfield secondary school for boys.

Aside from painting murals, Brian Barnes designed and printed campaign posters for activists. Photograph: Silvia

He began a course at Ravensbourne College of Art (now Ravensbourne University London) in 1961, leading to a national diploma in design. There he met Aileen McKeegan, studying fabric design, and they married in 1964. Brian stood out as a determined realist painter and went on to study at the Royal College of Art, where he graduated in 1969 with beautifully composed and detailed work.

Moving to Battersea, south-west London, the couple found a leftwing group of friends and became activists, campaigning for better social provision in housing, parks and jobs and protesting against rent rises and the redevelopment of Battersea power station and the riverfront for the wealthy.

The necessity of creating art expressing social concerns gave Brian a new direction, and a bolder style for his work. In 1973 he began printing silkscreen posters at home for campaigns. Demand grew and by 1977 his print workshop was producing hundreds of posters for the community.

Then came the murals. His first, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, in 1975, was vast, and was painted with 90 volunteers, near Battersea Bridge. On the “good” end were pictures of socialist goals, in the centre a “rainbow” broom swept away the capitalists’ failure. It became a popular landmark. A year later the wall was demolished. Protesters arrived in thousands, Battersea Bridge was closed and the artist arrested.

More large scale gable-end murals followed; sunny evocations like Day at the Seaside and Battersea in Perspective. Then anti-war murals: Nuclear Dawn in Brixton, with its threatening skeleton, and Riders of the Apocalypse in New Cross, featuring world leaders riding rockets around a besieged world, above a tender rendering of messages at Greenham Common. There were many more murals for creches, nurseries, schools, towns, estates and railway stations.

Detail from a Brian Barnes mural in Stockwell, south London, celebrating the life of the second world war special operations agent Violette Szabo

The Stockwell war memorial, begun in 1999, was the work he returned to often. It is a joyful mural with many images, dedicated to the fallen in the world wars, and celebrating local residents such as Vincent Van Gogh and the second world war special operations agent Violette Szabo, as well as the Windrush immigrants who spent their first night in Britain in the area.

Brian was appointed MBE in 2005 for services to the Battersea community. He is survived by Aileen and their children, Eloise and Glenn, and grandchildren Daniel, Lilya and Natalya.


Thursday 15 October 2020

message of support to  UCU Solidarity Movement and Students Before Profit

The Green Party Trade Union group sends a message of support to  UCU Solidarity Movement and Students Before Profit UofG for their day of action for  an immediate reduction in FE class sizes, an increase in staff to make colleges safer,  social distancing rules to be applied,  regular deep cleaning and more funding to fully implement safe blended learning. GPTU also supports your rejection of attempts to blame staff and students for the chaos inflicted on education by the governments bungled response to the cv pandemic coming on top of years of deliberate underfunding of education in general and FE in particular.

Wednesday 30 March 2016

New website

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Saturday 27 February 2016

UCU Campaigns update

1. Higher education (HE) pay campaign: tackling casual contracts
2. Fair pay in further education: Wednesday’s strike action
3. In the news
4. UN anti-racism day events
5. ‘Don’t cut me out’ – lifelong learning in Wales
6. Learn new skills with UCU’s free CPD courses
7. Iran: release teacher union leader Esmail Abdi
8. End austerity march: 16 April 2016
9. Get ready for direct debit
10. Events and publications

1. Higher education (HE) pay campaign: tackling casual contracts
Tackling the growing use of casual contracts in universities is a central element of our campaign for
a decent deal for HE staff and this week general secretary Sally Hunt wrote to members arguing that insecure employment is not ‘a small problem’. Check your pay and compare to others in the sector using the new Rate for the Job webtool.

2. Fair pay in further education: Wednesday’s strike action
UCU members in English further education (FE) institutions took strike action on Wednesday this week, and were joined on picket lines by UNISON members in a dispute over pay.
You can catch up with the action, follow media coverage and read reports from the picket lines here. For the last six years take home pay for FE staff has been declining in value -  check your pay and compare it to those at other colleges with our new webtool here.

3. In the news

Joint strike in further education over ‘insulting’ pay freeze
More scrutiny for senior pay, as Scottish universities call for less transparency
£30m cut to Scottish university budgets ‘deeply worrying’
Progress on gender gap in Scottish universities ‘agonisingly slow’
Government rejects teacher representation on new apprenticeship body
College loan debts hit £1.6bn
Read all about it here.

4. UN anti-racism day events
Saturday 19 March is the United Nations (UN) international day for the elimination of racial discrimination and UCU is supporting the ‘Refugees welcome – stand up to racism, islamophobia, anti-Semitism and fascism’ demonstrations in London, Cardiff and Glasgow. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt will be speaking at the London event.
London demo assembles 12 noon, BBC Portland Place, London, W1A 1AA
Cardiff demo assembles 11:30am, Clare Gardens, Cardiff, CF11 6EN.
Glasgow demo assembles 10:30am, George Square, Glasgow.
5. ‘Don’t cut me out’ – lifelong learning in Wales
UCU Wales, NUS Wales and UNISON Cymru Wales will be launching their 
‘Don’t cut me out’ campaign at 12.30pm in the ATRiuM Building,  University of South Wales, Cardiff on Monday 29 February.  The campaign will seek to impress upon Assembly members the need to invest in lifelong learning; ensure a fair deal for all students and invest in part-time, flexible learning. Politicians from across the parties have been invited to the event and will hear lay member testimonies on the importance of the sector.  Please join us. Lunch will be provided.

6. Learn new skills with UCU’s free CPD courses
Places are available on the following UCU continuing professional development courses, which are free to all members. Book your place today to avoid disappointment.
Leadership in education – Dundee, 10 MarchMentoring – Dundee, 10 MarchClassroom management – Luton, 19 April

7. Iran: release teacher union leader Esmail Abdi
UCU has written to the Iranian authorities to condemn the six year jail sentence handed down to teachers’ union leader, Esmail Abdi. Members are encouraged to
sign a new petition calling for Esmail Abdi’s release.

8. End austerity march: 16 April 2016
UCU members will join
the People’s Assembly march for health, homes, jobs and education in London on 16 April 2016.

9. Get ready for direct debit
The new Trade Union Bill means members will no longer be able to pay their UCU subscriptions through payroll (also known as ‘check off’).  It’s important that those of you that still pay union subs by ‘check off’ now transfer over to direct debit
which you can do online here. If you have any queries please get in touch with the UCU membership team at membership@ucu.org.uk.

10. Events and publications
Stop Trident national demo, Saturday 27 February 2016
March and rally organised by CND to protest against Britain’s nuclear weapons system Trident.
12 noon, Marble Arch, London: more here.

Celebrate International Women’s Day 8 March
Each year International Women's Day is celebrated across the globe on 8 March as an opportunity to draw attention to the struggle for women's rights.
You can find UCU postcards and a special film ‘A woman’s place is in the union’ here.

Cuban arts and education intiative
UCU is supporting this
Music Fund for Cuba art and education initiative with an exhibition of Cuban artists in London in the autumn and you can help the appeal here.

Getting involved in UCU – a course for black members new to activism
This one day course is specifically designed for UCU black members who are interested in becoming more involved with UCU. The course will also include a professional development session about leadership.
For more details and to check entry criteria please use this link.

Defending further and adult education conference, 5 March 2016
This initiative taken by London region UCU will discuss how we can build a movement to defend the sector and put forward alternatives to the government’s cuts agenda. Gordon Marsden, shadow minister for lifelong learning will be addressing the event. SOAS, central London, Saturday 5 March, 10:30am.
Register here.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Help us mark the 40th anniversary of the Grunwick strike

News from Grunwick 40
View this email in your browser

Help us mark the 40th anniversary of the Grunwick strike

The plans for the Grunwick anniversary commemorations are taking shape quickly, there's a lot happening...

We're excited to announce that we now have permission to to install a mural on a prominent wall very close to the former factory site in Willesden. This will be a permanent public reminder of the unity and solidarity that Grunwick represented and ensure that the history is remembered. You canget involved in the design of the mural by coming along to one of several workshops during April – no special design or artistic ability required, just a bit of enthusiasm!
Click here to register for the art workshops
As well as the mural there is plenty more to get involved in.

This autumn there will be a major public exhibition on Grunwick at the Brent Museum, situated in Willesden Library, in partnership with Brent Council's Archive and Heritage Service. Do you have photographs or memories of the strike? If you were present would you be willing to be interviewed? If so, please get in touch.

But commemorating Grunwick is not just about remembering the past, it's also about organising for the future. Later this year we will be holding a conference (working title: The Grunwick Strike: Legacy and Lessons) which will look at current issues relating to migrant workers and the bringing together of various struggles. If you would like to get involved with the conference planning, please contact us.

And there's more... We've heard about a number of other plans to remember Grunwick, and we'll be sharing details soon. If you are thinking of organising your own event to mark the Grunwick anniversary, let us know.

Finally, we can't do any of our activities without financial resources so this is a heads up that ourcrowdfunding campaign will go live this coming Monday, 29th February. Please look out for it and give generously.

Don't forget to check us out on Facebook andTwitter – share, retweet and spread the word!

In solidarity

The Grunwick 40 Steering Group

PS. Please forward this email to anyone you think might be interested and encourage them to sign up to our mailing list here.
Grunwick 40 is an initiative of Brent Trades Council and the Willesden Green Town Team.
Our mailing address is:
*c/o Brent Trades Council, 375 High Road, London NW10 2JR*

Solidarity with the Strike in Further Education

Solidarity with the Strike in Further Education

If you get a chance, please call by your local FE college on strike on Wednesday 24th February.

Monday 22 February 2016

Why #Heathrow13 @planestupid are prepared to go to jail and why we're backing their protest http://www.segreens.com/heathrow_13_protest

Suggested tweet:
Why #Heathrow13 @planestupid are prepared to go to jail and why we're backing their protest http://www.segreens.com/heathrow_13_protest

Threat of Unprecedented Jail Sentence for Heathrow 13 Helps Amplify Protest
 “No-one seems to be worried about the impact Heathrow is already causing, just the impact of an extra runway,” Rob Basto from Reigate said to me, as we discussed his forthcoming trial. Read this blog by Jonathan Essex, South East Region Chair.
Now he could face prison when he appears in court on February 24th alongside 12 other campaigners who laid down on Heathrow Airport's northern runway in July last year.
In occupying the runway at Heathrow, the ‘Heathrow 13’ were calling for action on the biggest challenge we face today: climate change. Airport expansion is being proposed as a solution to what is actually a fictitious problem. We’re told that we have an airport capacity crisis, but the fact is that we don’t.[1] Meanwhile, this ‘solution’ actively hinders our ability to curb our emissions and solve the real climate challenge we face.
Aviation’s climate impact
The scale of aviation's climate impact is Heathrow and Gatwick's dirty big secret, and the actions of campaigners such as the Heathrow 13 draw our attention to this. Heathrow emits 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year[2], set to increase massively if a third runway is built there. Heathrow and Gatwick's existing operations are not just responsible for  some of the world's 5.5 million air pollution deaths each year, but also the wider-reaching and potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change, which researchers have predicted could be in the order of 250 deaths per year from Heathrow's operations alone[3].
The current prediction is that the Heathrow 13, whose act of civil and peaceful disobedience delayed 22 flights, will go to jail for their actions. Compare this to the consequences many corporations have faced for actions with incomparably graver consequences, and we start to see the contradictions in our justice system. Twenty years ago the Bhopal disaster led to some 3000 deaths, but the company responsible, Union Carbide, were fined just over $10,000. Similarly, the criminal charges against BP bosses involved in the Deepwater Horizon disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico were dropped, even though 11 people died. The Heathrow 13's protest wasn't a selfish act with criminal intent, as the judge recognised. They were trying to save lives.
If the carbon emissions of Britons taking international flights were counted up and ranked alongside the carbon emissions of entire countries,[4] our flights would rank as the 72nd largest global emitter, ranked between Ireland and New Zealand. But while the UK plans significant carbon reductions by 2030,[5] aviation emissions are planned to exceed their budget by between 35-75% by 2030, the year that the government pledges that a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick would be completed[6].
Managing Demand
Instead of debating how we will provide additional capacity for the inevitable expansion of aviation from 2030 onwards, we need to start managing demand down now, to deal with the climate change, which requires us not to build any new runway in the future. Last year, a proposal to reduce demand in a fair way – the idea of frequent flyer levy[7] - was launched. Research behind the proposal shows that just 15% of the UK population take 70% of flights, while over half of us did not  fly overseas at all in 2013. The Levy would help to manage aviation demand through a progressive tax, which would replace air passenger duty. Those taking one flight per year would be exempt from the tax, but for those who book subsequent flights, the tax would increase with every journey. Our parliament should be debating this proposal, to provide solutions to manage the demand of aviation, not whether to expand Heathrow or Gatwick with a new runway.
An unprecedented case
It was a few days after the July protest that I heard that my friend Rob was one of the '13'. This mild mannered 68 year old might now face the ultimate sanction available under UK law – prison – for trying to save lives.
Few now remember that Nelson Mandela and his fellow protesters were convicted and imprisoned for sabotage. Their legacy is that their protest changed everything – it ultimately ended apartheid. What will we remember about the first environmental protestors to face jail for aggravated trespass?
The actions of Rob, Danielle, Ella, Mel, Kara, Alistair, Graham, Edward, Sheila, Sam, Cameron and Rebecca need to give us the courage to stop choosing 'what I want' without first making politics real – and collectively making the hard but life affirming choices that make the world better and fairer for us all.
That is why I will join them on February 24th at Willesden Magistrates Court. Rob Basto says, “The case is a catalyst for getting the message out that we need stop expanding aviation in the UK, not propose to build new runways.” That requires action now - to call time not just on the sentences of the Heathrow 13 but on aviation's relentless expansion. Please join me in making that the legacy of this landmark protest.

[3]The report by the Climate Vulnerability Forum (2012, funded by 20 countries - http://daraint.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/EXECUTIVE-AND-TECHNICAL-SUMMARY.pdf) suggests one climate death/85ktCO2 which suggests UK aviation equates to around 500 deaths/year, and Heathrow airport 265 deaths/year.  However since this report was written the figure for air pollution has been quadrupled by the WHO. It is likely that this figure is conservative.
[4]Currently aviation is ranked as the 14th largest country in the world and shipping 8th as neither aviation or shipping were included in the climate agreement secured at Paris in 2015 (see http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/overview.php?v=CO2ts1990-2014&sort=des9).
[5] The UK plans a 60% cut in carbon emissions by 2030 (which must now include aviation) –http://www.carbonbrief.org/ccc-cut-uk-emissions-61-by-2030-for-fifth-carbon-budget.
[6] The government responded to the airport commission confirming that it did intend to give permission for another runway at Heathrow or Gatwick but five years later that the original date proposed of 2025. (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-confirms-support-for-airport-expansion-in-the-south-east).

[7] 'Managing Air Passenger Demand with a Frequent Flyer Levy, published by the New Economics Foundation –b.3cdn.net/nefoundation/58e9fad2705500ed8d_hzm6yx1zf.pdf.