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Tom Stockley: A Violence Filled With Flowers

Sat 03 Jun 2023 - Sun 02 Jul 2023





Open Daily

Tom Stockley: A Violence Filled With Flowers

A VIOLENCE FILLED WITH FLOWERS results from a year-long collaboration between the artist and Dr Natalie Ohana from the University of Exeter Law School. Tom has brought his lived experience as a social activist and community worker to undergraduate students undertaking the module Law, Testimony and Trauma in which students examine the roles legal systems play in sustaining or changing the socio-political conditions that enable traumatic events to take place.

From Tom’s role as a youth worker in some of the most deprived areas of South Devon and Bristol to their experience as a volunteer medic in the Bristol Protests of 2021, community engagement and social justice form a cornerstone of their practice as a writer, performer and visual artist.

Bringing this experience into the Law School classroom, Tom worked with Dr Ohana and her students to research, reinterpret and reflect upon four historical case studies within the context of law, testimony, trauma, community and justice – bringing their own case study in the form of the 2021 Bristol Protests. The four case studies included here are: The Aberfan Landslide (1966), The New Cross Massacre (1981), The Hillsborough Disaster (1989) and The Grenfell Fire (2017). Seemingly disconnected, Tom and Natalie have woven an academic and artistic web through these tragedies, highlighting the importance of the communities at the heart of them in their fight for justice and critically examining the role that the state, the legal system and the police play in matters of justice and testimony.

By examining and reassembling source material such as court notes, legal guides, eyewitness accounts, lyrics and essays, Tom sketches out their criticisms of an ongoing violence that is perpetuated by those in power, often hidden behind the softness of flowers and platitudes in the aftermath of preventable disasters and acts of oppression. Drawing upon a history of anti-fascist philosophy, radical communities and counter-cultural material, this work questions the truth behind atrocity, the knowledge behind the trauma and the reasons why justice is so rarely won by the communities that suffer most.

This collaborative project is part of a University of Exeter Arts and Culture Creative Fellowship programme.

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This project appears as part of Exeter Phoenix’s Platform series, which offers artists based in the South West region opportunities to test out ideas, new work and recent developments in their practice.

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