Women for Peace – exploring the art of Greenham Common

Women for Peace: Banners from Greenham Common (Four Corners Books, 2021) is the latest in the publisher’s Irregulars series, which seeks out overlooked and underground British art and design from the 20th century.

In some cases, the work is overlooked because the creator’s primary intention was not to create a piece of art, but rather to achieve a specific goal – so they may not have seen themselves, or been seen, first and foremost as artists.

This is the case with the banners featured in Charlotte Dew’s book, which were created as part of the long-running anti-nuclear protest held at RAF Greenham Common, which began in the early 1980s. However, while the protest banners were created as functional objects, taken out of context they can also be viewed as works of art.

Above: Women for Peace: Banners from Greenham Common by Charlotte Dew

The timing of the book’s release coincides with the 40th anniversary this month of the original protest activity that led to the Greenham saga. In response to the deployment of US nuclear missiles on UK soil, a group of women marched form Cardiff to Greenham Common, with some chaining themselves to the fence of the airbase. From there, the protest grew to become a ‘Peace Camp’; over the next few years, it developed into a women-only camp that would maintain a permanent protest and vigil outside the base for 19 years.

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Next on CITV… the Four-Minute Warning?

Pop quiz: What connects beloved children’s shows Woof!Bernard’s Watch and Tarka the Otter with nuclear war?

Woof!.. boom!

Well, it turns out that these classic pieces of kids’ entertainment share a director with The Hole in the Ground, a 1962 film created for the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation (UKWMO).

Commissioned to showcase UKWMO’s quick response to a nuclear strike on Britain – indeed, they were the organisation tasked with issuing the Four-Minute Warning. The film was directed by David Cobham, who went on to create many happier memories through his work on cherished children’s films and TV shows through the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Watch The Hole in the Ground below, and then cheer yourself up by exploring more of the director’s work (including choice selections from Woof!) on this very comprehensive YouTube channel.

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