This October Axel was invited to produce a mural for the People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester, the national museum of democracy championing ideas such as equality, social justice and co-operation. Their 2019 program will see a year of activities around protest movements to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester.
Axels tribute is in recognition of ordinary people who stood against injustice, who would these people be if a similar demonstration were to occur in our time. They are our family, our friends, our neighbours. They are you and I.
The mural, entitled Peterloo. emblazons the exterior wall of the museum in Manchester’s city centre, overlooking the River Irwell, as a tribute to the sacrifices of the ordinary people who stood up to achieve equality for all. Void has depicted a mother and child, symbolising those who came to St Peter’s Field to seek the rights of representation. His work explores the historical event from the perspective of those involved, asking, if this happened in our time, who would these people be now and what would they be fighting for?
The mother and child are Manchester resident Lydia and her two year old son, Ezra. As a daughter of a Windrush victim, the experiences of her family provide a counterpoint to the injustices of the past. The first victim of Peterloo was a two year old child, thrust from his mother’s arms as she fled the soldiers, making the depiction of a mother and child a poignant reminder of some of the 18 lives that were lost on 16 August 1819 when the peaceful protest turned into a massacre. Lydia and her son’s white clothes are a reference to the fact that many of the women who came to Peterloo wore this colour; their Sunday best clothing being a symbolic repost to the way they had been vilified in the media.
About People’s History Museum (PHM)
People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain: past, present, and future. The museum provides opportunities for people of all ages to learn about, be inspired by and get involved in ideas worth fighting for; ideas such as equality, social justice, co-operation, and a fair world for all. PHM offers a powerful programme with annual themes; 2018 looks at representation and commemorates 100 years since the first women and all men got the vote, 2019 will see a year of activities around protest movements to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester and the programme for 2020 will be on the theme of migration and identity. 2017-2018 winner of Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award.