singers and leaflets in the grand hall
leafletting outside the gates
this way to exhibition
shell's real effect on wildlife
starting with humming and building up to a rousing chorus it took guards a ltittle while to work out what was happening. meanwhile leaflets were handed out to the bemused public. as shell-hired security forcefully marched singers out of the building, more voices kept emerging, and it took several minutes to eventually clear the hall by which time a lot of leaflets had been handed out and the point had been made.
outside the museum, more than 500 leaflets were handed to people attending the exhibition, and banners and posters showed the real work of shell, rekindling the memory of ken saro-wiwa and the nigerian activists working to stop shell's blight of the the land and the environment in the nigerian delta.
public response was very favourable - the irony not lost on most people
one guard let slip that the security operation is costing shell £2000 per day to protect the exhibition from likely protest
a short film will follow on indymedia in the next day or two (linked here)
all participants gave their consent to be photographed/filmed
Here are the words we sang:
'there’s a bird dressed in black
there’s a world nearly cracked
there is me, there is you
what the hell shall we do?
it’s not hard to explain
all the ways we can gain
from a world without oil
no more spills, no more spoils'
On the line 'what the hell shall we do?', various possibilities were hollered, including 'Say no to Shell', 'Go beyond oil' and 'Start anew', as was the statement that 'Shell sells suicide on the forecourt'. A couple of noisy singers were hustled out fast, (one being told 'If you don't walk, I'll break your arm!'), while those left behind kept up the tune, its notes floating up past the dinosaur skeleton and the long, curling Shell Wildlife queue to take up residence in the rafters above.
Gradually they were removed, gathering again on the pavement outside with images from the Shell's Wild Lie exhibition, a Remember Saro-Wiwa banner and more songs, including 'A Drunken Climate', 'None of Us Are Free', '(War For) Oil' and a song to the Niger Delta. Spirits were high, and responses from the (predominantly non-English speaking?) public few and far between but lovely and heart-warming when they came. No one was arrested; no police were present.
It still looks as if the campaign to get Shell kicked out as sponsor might bear fruit - we'll find out very soon if its 2 year contract will be renewed. Let's keep the pressure up!
PS. As well as helping to build a new world in the heart of this rotted out system, you could also try contacting the NHM to tell it what you think of Shell (not to mention BP, which is a Museum partner): (020) 7942 5000; NHM boss Michael Dixon: email@example.com, cc’ing to firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
Please also send a message or letter to exhibition partner BBC Wildlife magazine: Sophie Stafford (editor), Letters, BBC Wildlife Magazine, 14th Floor, Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol BS1 3BN.
PPS. There's a group of people coming together to use music and singing as a way to lift spirits, highlight climatic criminality and reach people who for whatever reason aren't engaging with the enormity of the current SOS. Future plans include performing at the opening of the Climate Camp exhibition at the Foundry next Tuesday, damming more oily greenwash in some of the many outlets it has around Carbon Town, processing & hollering on the climate demo on December 8th, and being part of the Fossil Fools Global Day of Action on April 1st 2008. We're on the lookout for singers, performers, would-be singers, musicians and makers of strange and beautiful objects to process with.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org'