Angola Prison Mosaic Raises Awareness in London

Juxtapoz // Tuesday, 02 Sep 2008

A spectacular new mosaic mural has been unveiled on the outside wall of the Treatment Rooms in the west London suburb of Chiswick to raise awareness of African-American men confined in America’s notorious Angola prison in Louisiana.

The artwork, which took four months to create with help from a dedicated group of activist artists, decorates The Treatment Rooms, home of street artist Carrie Richards, aka The Baroness, and her partner Mr. Spunky. The mosaic is inlaid with 3D ceramic pieces and tiles that The Baroness has printed on herself. Having studied ceramics for the past 6 years, she is now about to transfer any image onto tile to add incredible detail and complexity to her work.

The mosaic depicts the so-called Angola 3: Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King, all men wrongfully convicted of murder at Angola prison in the 1970s and who subsequently spent decades in solitary confinement. Though Woodfox's conviction has been overturned, and Wallace's recommended for such, both men remain behind bars.

The extensive work is also dedicated to Kenny 'Zulu' Whitmore, who has similarly spent 33 years in solitary confinement at Angola, where the majority of inmates are black and will die inside its walls.

The Baroness is personal friends with all of these political prisoners and has recently become spokesperson for the London Chapter to support the Angola 3. This mural follows on from the Luis Ramirez Wall – which was a mosaic mural in memory of her first prisoner penpal Luis who was executed by the State of Texas. She continues make mosaics infused with social and political commentary, and she's taken The Treatment Rooms as the UK's only ceramic adorned house of resistance.

The only freed member of the Angola 3, Robert King (who spent 29 years in solitary confinement and was released in 2001 after his murder conviction was overturned) attended the unveiling on June 21. One of the purposes of his stay in London was to launch the Free Zulu campaign. He spoke to a crowd of 150 artists and activists from the UK, Europe, and North America who have rallied around the causes of the Angola 3 and Zulu.

Robert King spoke to Zulu after the unveiling and Zulu said he now had hope in his heart. He has since seen pictures of the unveiling and is overjoyed by the support reaching him from the UK.

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