Peter Kennard

Peter Kennard (born 17 February 1949) is a London born and based photomontage artist and Senior Research Reader in Photography, Art and the Public Domain at the Royal College of Art. Seeking to reflect his involvement in the anti-Vietnam War movement, he turned from painting to photomontage to better address his political views.He has often worked in collaboration with writers, photographers, filmmakers and artists such as Peter Reading, John Pilger and Jenny Matthews.

He is best known for the images he created for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the 1970s–80s. This includes “Haywain with Cruise Missiles“, a cut-and-paste photomontage of Constanble’s Haywain – a symbol of Britain’s rural idyll with American missiles used by CND to highlight the threat of installation of cruise missiles at air bases across the UK, such as Greenham Common.
“ Photomontage may not be subtle but it is effective as a tactic when the aim is to make a point quickly and directly. We grasp immediately that Britain is under threat.” Liz Wells (2011, p.21 quoted Alexander 2013 p98)

Because many of the left-wing organisations and publications he used to work with have disappeared, Kennard has turned to using exhibitions, books and the internet for his work.

In “Dispatches from An Unofficial War Artist”, his 2000 autobiography, he writes about the possibilities of undertaking an aesthetic practice in relation to social change, and considers how his art has interacted with the politics of actual events.

 One of Kennard’s latest projects is 2011’s @earth, a story without words told in the language of photomontage. It takes the form of a small book priced at £9.99, published by the Tate Gallery, which Kennard believed was a reasonably cheap and accessible way of getting his message to young people outside the artworld. The book contains a variety of images from Kennard’s 40-year career and, as a result, attracts the criticism that its targets are too general. Kennard’s reply was that he wanted “to encourage people to think about their own situation and activate, but I’m not trying to tell them to do this or that. I’m just trying to show how I see the world at the moment.”

The idea has expanded to a re-appropriation and re-distribution of his images through online platforms such as Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter. G8 Protest Posters is the latest of these projects that shares images “designed for protest”. Created in 2013 in reaction to the 39th G8 Summit in Enniskillen, Kennard has encouraged the public to “print, Tweet, Facebook, email and share these images as a sign of protest”. He sees online distribution sites as “a valuable addition to the dissident artists toolbox. G8 is a charade masquerading as a serious conference, my posters attempt to rip through the lies and point to the world as in fact it is.”

He has also executed a number of guerrilla street installations and has said “if world leaders insist on assaulting our lives and livelihoods, let’s hit back by assaulting their eyes.”

The first major retrospective of Kennard’s work will be held at the Imperial War Museum for one year from May 2015.

Source: edited from Wikipedia