The struggle to save Twyford Down (Hampshire, England) from being bulldozed for a motorway became the first and bloodiest battle of Britain’s environmental direct action movement.
In the summer of 1992, a handful of people came together to camp on the threatened hillside, known locally as The Dongas. The tribe (a temporary commune), who took the same name, obstructed the road builders for many months, until they were violently evicted. However, their land occupation tactics subsequently had a powerful, far-reaching political influence and became a blueprint for eco-activists worldwide.
The Twyford Down protests missed the revolution of digital and social media by mere months, and as a consequence, scant evidence remains of the folk art and burgeoning, creative activity on camp.
Artist-activist, Jai Redman (b.1971) was an art student in 1992. He was part of the Dongas Tribe and focused on building fortifications, developing resistance tactics, and illustrating propaganda material for the nascent anti-road movement. His more personal reflections were expressed through collages, kept in handmade sketchbooks.
Redman’s artwork contains a range of influences including Neolithic stone circles and Pagan folk imagery, the Grunge-era graphic design of David Carson, and the work of Anselm Kiefer, Antoni Tàpies, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Leonardo da Vinci.
The Dongas Sketchbook is a limited edition (of 300) facsimile artist’s book including a new essay written by Redman and his archive photos of a rarely seen collection of ephemera (press cuttings, posters, zines, and flyers) from the time.