New exhibition celebrates artist who defined the anti-war movement

New exhibition celebrates artist who defined the anti-war movement

04 June 2018

A new exhibition at the Millennium Gallery this summer is set to mark the 60th anniversary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament with a showcase of work by an artist who created some of the movement’s most potent images. Opening on Saturday 9 June, Art Against War: Peter Kennard and the CND Movement will present over 100 era-defining works created by Kennard over the past 50 years. 

CND was formed in February 1958 in response to the detonation of Britain’s first hydrogen bomb and the Government’s agreement to house American nuclear weapons on British soil. Throughout the 1970s and 80s Peter Kennard’s hugely powerful photomontages ensured that the movement, and the striking imagery that came to represent it, were etched onto the public consciousness. 

Born in 1949, Kennard studied at both the Slade and the Royal College of Art, and has been at the cutting edge of political art since first making work protesting the Vietnam War in 1968. He has gone on to become one of Britain’s leading political artists, creating striking symbols which have come to define modern protest; his photomontages, installations and paintings have earned him an international reputation and his iconic, haunting images have appeared in publications such as New Scientist, The Guardian, New Statesmen and many more. 

Today, Kennard’s work has lost none of its impact or relevance. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock measures the potential for global man-made catastrophe. In 1958, the year of CND’s formation, the clock reached two minutes to midnight, the closest it has been to worldwide catastrophe. In 2018, in light of current threats of nuclear war and unchecked climate change, the clock returned to the position of two minutes to midnight for the first time in 58 years. 

This timely showcase presents a range of photomontages, posters and ephemeral material charting Kennard’s anti-war work throughout his career. It includes material he has produced for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, as well as a number of designs created for the Stop the War Coalition. 

Amongst the works on display will be some of Kennard’s most recognisable images, including his celebrated reworking of Constable’s The Hay Wain, Haywain with Cruise Missiles (1981), Broken Missiles (1980) and Nuclear Clock (2005-2017). 

Peter Kennard says:

“I'm proud to be showing my work at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield, a city where protest against the horrors of war and dissent against inequality have been integral to its people throughout history. It's 60 years since CND was formed, we need to campaign against nuclear weapons and the proliferation of weaponry and arms dealing now more than ever.” 

Louisa Briggs, Project Curator (Protest & Activism) at Museums Sheffield says:

“We’re thrilled to bring our Protest & Activism season to a close with an exhibition celebrating the work of an artist who created some of the most compelling anti-war imagery of the past 50 years. We’re particularly pleased to have the opportunity to show these works here in Sheffield, a city with a longstanding relationship with the peace movement.” 

Peter Kennard is Professor of Political Art at the Royal College of Art, London. In recent years his work has been included in many group exhibitions, including, Media Burn, Tate Modern, London; Rude Britannia, Tate Britain, London; Forms of Resistance, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, and solo exhibitions including, At Earth in Raven Row, London, to coincide with the publication of his book @earth, Tate Publishing, 2011. His work is held in public collections including Tate, Victoria and Albert Museum, Imperial War Museum, Science Museum, British Council and the Arts Council Collection. 

Kennard is the author of six books, with his latest’ Unofficial War Artist, published in May 2015 by the Imperial War Museum to coincide with his retrospective exhibition, Peter Kennard: Unofficial War Artist. His work has found widespread acclaim, with fans including Banksy – “I take my hat off to you, sir”; playwright, Harold Pinter – “Kennard sees the skull beneath the skin all right”; and artist and writer, John Berger – “Peter Kennard’s work is haunting. Eschewing words, it insists on not being forgotten. He is a master of the medium of photomontage.” 

Art Against War: Peter Kennard and the CND Movement opens at Millennium Gallery on Sat 9 June and continues until 7 October 2018 – entrance to the exhibition is free. 

The exhibition is part of Museums Sheffield’s 2018 Protest and Activism season marking the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act.