Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Red Brigade

When I was in Soho on Friday, I came across this group of performers -- I wasn't sure what else to call them -- huddled on Argyll Street. Some police officers were standing nearby, and I heard one say to the others, "Our job is to keep an eye on them," pointing to the red-robed group.

I had a feeling they were somehow associated with Extinction Rebellion, the movement that has been holding demonstrations and paralyzing parts of London this summer and fall. That was confirmed when one of the group held up her hand, and I saw that it was marked with the extinction symbol (in the center of the photo).

Turns out they're known as the Red Brigade, a street performance group from Bristol. (Lots more pictures here, along with a rather dismissively toned article.) I thought they were quite remarkable looking, and they certainly must attract attention to the cause.

Coincidentally -- or maybe not -- nearby Carnaby Street now has a marine ecology-themed display going on for its Christmas shopping season. The display is allegedly ecologically friendly, though according to their "sustainability document" elements are made of polystyrene and polypropylene, which sounds dubious to me. Doesn't it seem ironic to put the health of the ocean center-stage on a street devoted to consumption? What would make the ocean healthier, it seems to me, is less shopping.

But it is an artistically interesting display, with jellyfish made of post-consumer bubble wrap and recyclable fabric, joined by other critters like seahorses, worms, fish and squid. Not to mention a whale made of polystyrene, steel, hessian, latex and biodegradable paint.

Never a dull moment on a nice day in London!


  1. I understand entirely what you mean about the tragic irony of the street display. Referencing the wonders of the ocean to create a vibrant commercial ambience seems rather sick to me. They should stick to reindeer and snowmen.

  2. I think the display is beautiful but yes, you are right about the amount of plastic etc that has probably been used. I get sick of all of the talk and no do.
    It's the big boys who have to be targeted not just us tiddlers in the pool.
    Your post bought back memories of the 60's, I bought a lovely big silver ring in Carnaby Street and still wear it today.
    I wonder what I was wearing? something representative of the time I expect, lol

  3. those round blue things are supposed to be jellyfish? I would have never guessed. the culture of consumption, too much cheap stuff made too quickly. we are burying ourselves, burying everything, under merchandise and packaging.

  4. That top picture of the Extinction women is incredible.
    We have become such creatures of excess. It's so depressing and it's frightening. Can we roll it back to a bit of sanity? I have my doubts.

  5. Really love the group of the women in your photo. I understand the need to protect all life not just the oceans but somehow the displays conflict with the cause.
    It would be wonderful to be able to save our planet without excess of the harmful materials that we use daily and throw away.
    My guess is that the theme is done to raise money and awareness and they are probably thinking what a greater time than Christmas to do so.
    Our family is not going to do much this year that isn't a gift from the heart so to speak. We will get something for the kids but as for us adults we are going to try and do other things.

    Have a wonderful day.

  6. Talk About Powerful - Many Thanx For Sharing


  7. Love seeing that group of women in red. I think I'd like to join their Extinction Rebellion. I just read recently that a group of them staged a sit-in/hunger strike in Nancy Pelosi's office for four days until they were removed. This is the fight of the century. Great photos.

  8. The red outfits would certainly attract attention. Sometimes these groups over do it and the message is lost.

  9. What an interesting post and equally interesting links. I totally agree with you about the consumption aspect. The demonstrations in London appear to have been huge!

  10. The extinction brigade women in red are marvelous. Those sea creatures suspended in air remind me of the american museum of natural history's hall of ocean life. A very similar view.

  11. Thanks for sharing the power of art and it's current manifestations in London. Powerful.

  12. I love the photo of the Red Brigade ladies. I think the displays are just wonderful. Somehow I did not know that London decorated like this. It's nice to know that. Makes me wish I'd been able to visit there. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  13. In the retail world, everything - every single thing - is about making money. So, yeah, although the display is nice and all, it increases my cynicism, if such an increase is even possible, ha ha

    The red ladies are memorable for sure. Great shot of them!

  14. There is a really moving account by British childrens' book author Sue Hampton about her participating in a Red Brigade event:

    A quote: "the Reds are more goddess than ghoul. They are sad, generous and compassionate. What threatens is catastrophe but the rebels are the alarm, not the fire. Like the Furies they offer a warning, but without frightening the children. And the stillness is part of the drama."

  15. what a great shot of the red people! And yes, humans are very skilled at being ironic.