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Respect Existence or Expect Resistance (2018)

An exhibition and discussion exploring representation and environmental activism, featuring photography, video and artefacts from campaigns across the UK drawn from a period of 20 years featuring work by Adrian Arbib, Michele Allen, Jane Gower, Jackie Scollen and Simone Rudolphi. 

More information

This exhibition has been created in response to the screening of Tales of Resistance- the Battle of the Newbury Bypass and brings together video work, photography, publications and banners reflecting on twenty years of environmental activism. The show features material related to 90’s road protests and from the Campaign to Protect Pont Valley against opencast coal mining which is ongoing, the title is drawn from a slogan used as part of that campaign and featured on the miner’s banner on display here.

The directness and simplicity of that statement belies the complexity of the situations these protests have engaged with, in almost every instance direct action has run alongside prolonged engagements with planning departments at all levels, legal challenges

and court cases often running over many years.  In the case of Pont Valley local people had campaigned against the open cast site, and had their concerns upheld by planning, for over thirty years before UK Coal (latterly Banks Mining) were eventually granted a licence to extract coal from the site.

These campaigns ran far deeper than a generalised concern for damage to the countryside, many of the sites destroyed by roads

in the 1990s were designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, the Newbury bypass alone included three, and the land at Pont Valley was a haven for ground nesting birds and contained ponds which were a home to great crested newts. In both cases the protest also included people from a broad range of backgrounds, including ecologists, farmers, people concerned about climate change, political organisations and local people determined to protect the landscapes and wildlife on their doorsteps.

By bringing this work together we hope to draw attention to the similarities between these different campaigns, separated by time

and geography, and to ask why these hillsides and valleys which were valuable havens for wildlife, and often recognised as such in law, were not deemed valuable enough to protect by the governments and councils which were supposed to advocate for nature on our behalf?


Jackie Scollen Dust (2018), Video related to The Campaign to Protect Pont Valley.   

Adrain Arbib Keep it Fluffy video, (2013) Footage from Combe Haven 2013 and stills from Solsbury Hill 1994

Simone Rudolphi Photographs documenting the Campaign to Protect the Pont Valley (2018) 

Michele Allen in collaboration with members of the M65 Link Road Protest, Trees Not Tarmac Stories from the M65 (2014)


Banners by Jane Gower courtesy of the Campaign to Protect Pont Valley

Stanworth Valley eviction poster, photograph of cats eye worn on the campaign, ash tree branch part of the tree defended by ‘Tigger’.

On the shelf

Solsbury Hill publication by Adrian Arbib with a forward by George Monbiot and Paul Kingsnorth.

Schnews publication 1996 a compilation of independent media newsletter featuring articles on the Newbury bypass.

Account of the eviction of Stanworth Valley in May 1995 written by Mhairy Logan.

Geological samples left behind by the mining company (cores) collected from the Pont Valley Site, County Durham.

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