Future Exhibition

A Fire in My Head

04.10.2022 - 16.12.2022

Art Exchange

admission free

Essex students Organise – Educate – Agitate

This exhibition brings together stories from the life of the University of Essex, as defined by its students.

Essex became known for student unrest in the 1960s as a post-war generation came of age and demanded change. The close-knit campus community meant that students found a ready platform to ‘organise, educate and agitate’ as the rallying cry of Students’ Union urged.

Through numerous protests students supported the important issues of the day, including women’s rights, sexual politics and anti-racism campaigns. Sociologist Emile Durkheim coined a term for these highly charged events, calling them “moments of collective effervescence” when new ideas are born. There were damming headlines in the press, but it was also a time of communal growth and creativity at Essex.

The University’s archives dwindle as the digital age begins, so we’ve tried to fill in the gaps by listening to students. Feminist, LGBTQ+ and Black communities tell us about their experiences, select archive material and have lent us some of their own.

This exhibition was made possible through the insight and generosity of Jestin Bartlett, Marina Cusi Sanchez and Sophie Kabangu who co-created the exhibition; alongside the enthusiasm and support of Flazzi Adekambi, Dorothy Akuamoa, Peter Avis, Riley Iles, Emma Jefferies, Lucy King and Sam Temple.

Photo on website banner: Flier given from the picket and occupation of Miss Anglia contest 1981. Courtesy of Albert Sloman Library, University of Essex

Photo on website post: The Black Lives Matter protest, 2020, Colchester. Courtesy of Sophie Kabangu