For ten years from 2001 to 2011, a visit to Parliament Square meant you’d come face to face with activist Brian Haw and his peace camp. Wearing a bucket hat layered over with anti-war badges and walking with the help of sticks, Haw was a thorn in the side of Westminster’s politicians, shouting his anti-Blair, anti-Iraq War protests through a megaphone and daubing them on huge cloth banners.
Haw passed away just over a decade ago in 2011, having protested until just a few months before his death. Award-winning actor and Haw’s close friend Mark Rylance originally wanted to have a statue erected to him in Parliament Square as a permanent reminder of his anti-war, anti-establishment values. But now, Rylance is at the helm of a more achievable (and equally powerful) plan: a statue opposite the Imperial War Museum, just outside the exclusion zone that the authorities created in 2005 while trying to keep him away from Parliament.
A site has been secured on the grounds of Lambeth’s School of Historical Dress, so all that’s needed is some cash to fund the project: its fundraising page is looking to secure £50,000 in £1 donations from the public, to demonstrate a groundswell of support for Haw’s views.
The statue will be sculpted by artist Amanda Ward, who’s created a bronze figure of Haw leaning heavily on his walking sticks, looking out on to the streets with an expression of stubborn determination. It’s a striking contrast to London’s many statues of smug establishment figures, and a reminder of the importance of standing up for what you believe in, as the laws governing how and where we protest grow ever tighter.
Donate to the Brain Haw fundraiser here.