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Taking his research into the heart of the community that is home to the organisations, individuals and communities that he has been studying, the History Department’s Dr Chris Moores presented the initial findings of his Activist Selly Oak project at Artefact in Stirchley on the evening of 6 September 2018.

Chris Moores presenting

Over forty people, many who were involved in the events uncovered in the project, crammed into the space, to hear Chris Moores tell stories of the activist subcultures in the area that hadn’t been told before. Concentrating on a period roughly bracketed by the formation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in 1958 and the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, the talk covered the entire spectrum of activist activity. This ranged from radical bookshops, squatters and claimants unions and revolutionary organisations, to campaigning local newspapers, welcoming refugees; and volunteers and charities stepping in to provide services to the community that were not provided by the market or the state.

A busy exhibition space

In addition to outlining the project’s findings, Chris Moores thanked everybody who has taken part in the project so far, including veteran campaigners who agreed to be interviewed or shared their personal archives, the student volunteers who undertook a lots of the research for the project, and the creative practitioners who have produced a diverse array of creative outputs based upon the material that has been uncovered. These range from small sculptural plaques, to a sixteen page tabloid newspaper documenting the projects findings.

Attendees viewing the exhibition

After the talk, attendees and other guests had the chance to view a pop-up exhibition-in the space for one evening only, curated by Patrick Dandy, the Activist Selly Oak Project Co-ordinator, and Chloë Lund, the project’s Associate Curator, showcasing some of the exciting archival material and memories discovered to date. 

Were you involved in any forms of activism, whether on campus, or in and around Selly Oak; between the 1950s and the 1990s? If so then the Activist Selly Oak Project Team would like to hear from you       

The activism map
Posters on the wall

Photographs by Jenny Lance.