13 Dead, Nothing Said: a south London photography show marking black lives lost, and 1980s protest

in Inspiration / Photography

A haunting and revealing series of photographs are to go on show in south London, demonstrating the sad history of racial violence in our supposedly "civilised" society.

The images were shot by Vron Ware, and document the 1981 Black People’s Day of Action in March that year. Earlier that month, a fire had broken out in south London’s New Cross that killed 13 young black Londoners celebrating one of the victims, Yvonne Ruddock’s, birthday. Two years later, the death toll rose to 14 when one of the survivors committed suicide.

It was a truly tragic event, and one suspected to be a racially motivated arson attack; one of many during the time in the area spearheaded by groups like the National Front. But despite this horrific and deeply sad loss of lives, public reactions were largely indifferent, and there was even unfavourable and negative media reporting of the event.

That’s where the Black People’s Day of Action came in: hundreds marched as a protest against these appalling reactions.

Ware’s beautifully shot documentation of the event is now going on show at Goldsmiths University in New Cross, near to where the events took place, in an exhibition orchestrated with photography and film charity Autograph ABP, which holds the images in its permanent archive.

"Ware captured the demonstrators up close and personal, paying attention to the to the signs and placards, many of which express the marchers’ palpable anger at public indifference to the tragic loss of young black people’s lives," says Autograph ABP.

The organisation’s curator Renée Mussai adds: "Over 30 years later and hitherto unpublished, Vron Ware's defiant photographs offer insight into decisive moments of cultural resistance in post-war Britain's anti-fascist and community campaigning."

The show runs from 9 March – 27 May 2017.

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

Vron Ware, Black People's Day of Action, 2 March 1981. Courtesy the artist / Autograph ABP

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