Exhibition Review: Rock Against Racism - Militant Exhibition Tour @ St Mary In The Castle

on Sunday, October 30, 2022

Rock Against Racism: Militant Entertainment Tour exhibition at St Mary In The Castle, Hastings // Words: Saam Das

The Rock Against Racism movement was founded in the UK in 1976 in opposition to comments made by prominent musicians, David Bowie and Eric Clapton, whose actions were symptomatic of a rising (and often violent) sentiment against various minorities at the time. Sadly, this all still strikes a chord over thirty years on. Therefore, this new exhibition in Hastings celebrating the activism of the movement, including their support from bands such as The Clash and The Specials, feels particularly timely.

The Militant Entertainment Tour exhibition has been co-curated by the Rock Against Racism Research N Archive group alongside South Coast Squared, with acclaimed artist Larry Achiampong also contributing. Achiampong’s resonant piece bellows through the exhibition’s unusual crypt setting, as Ghanian author Ama Ata Aidoo searingly reflects on the impact of colonialism.

The historical and socio-political context is continued throughout the exhibition, especially within striking excerpts from the RAR fanzine ’Temporary Hoarding’ as well as short documentary and voxpop pieces featuring key figures from the period. Colourful gig posters (two-tone aside, of course) and a plethora of photographs capture the excitement and drive of the movement. The only real downside of being tantalised by this comprehensive collection is a lack of being able to listen to much of the music - perhaps understandably there may be licensing issues however.

Seemingly with allusions of touring around the country, if not further, we hope that this fascinating Rock Against Racism exhibition finds the wider audience that it richly deserves. Indeed, with divisions along various lines unfortunately becoming increasingly prominent across the past few years, arguably the Militant Entertainment Tour should be considered as essential viewing.

Sadly, it appears that St Mary In The Castle will be closing shortly, but if that indeed remains the case, they’ve gone out on a high with this historically significant yet still very much culturally relevant exhibition.


Rock Against Racism – Militant Exhibition Tour closes on 29th October 2022 at St Mary In The Castle, Hastings.

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