An exhibition celebrating 30 years of anti-fascist design and music opened last night (Thursday) at the Rich Mix centre in east London.
The free exhibition brings together posters, badges and memorabilia that have never been seen together before. It coincides with the tenth anniversary of the Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) campaign.
It charts how a grassroots culture, heavily influenced by punk and reggae, rose up to challenge the National Front and other Nazi organisations in the 1970s. Many of the posters advertise carnivals and gigs put on by the Anti Nazi League (ANL) and Rock Against Racism (RAR).
Other highlights include pioneering examples of graphic design from Temporary Hoarding, a fanzine closely associated with the ANL and RAR.
The exhibition also covers more recent anti-fascist campaigns, such as driving the British National Party out of Tower Hamlets, east London, in the 1990s and out of Barking in recent years.
The PCS union sponsored the exhibition. Its general secretary Mark Serwotka spoke at the show’s launch, noting that it opens “only days after the fantastic routing of the English Defence League in Waltham Forest”.
Gurinder Chada, director of the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, spoke movingly about her experiences of racism as a teenage girl growing up in her family’s corner shop in 1970s London.
She described slipping away to attend the 1978 Rock Against Racism anti-Nazi carnival in Victoria Park, east London—and her astonishment as she saw the park fill with hundreds and thousands of anti-racists.
Gurinder is speaking at a special LMHR anniversary event at the Rich Mix on Saturday 15 September, alongside a host of others including poet Michael Rosen and veteran anti-fascist Maurice Beckman.
The event starts at 1pm and ends with a party lasting till 1am. Tickets cost £12 waged or £6 unwaged, and are available from the Rich Mix website at www.richmix.org.uk
The LMHR exhibition is free and runs until 30 September at the Rich Mix’s Mezzanine Gallery, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA