And There Was Brian

And There Was Brian is an audio monument to the peace campaigner Brian Haw. Created by Guy Atkins, it is sited in Parliament Square in the UK, where for ten years Brian protested 24/7 against the Iraq war and other military conflicts.

In June 2001, actor Michael Culver met Brian Haw in London’s Parliament Square. Enraged by the suffering of Iraqi children after the first gulf war, they began protesting for changes to uk and us foreign policies. Brian – a carpenter from Redditch in the West Midlands – set up a permanent peace camp in the square. On the side nearest Parliament, he created a display of his and his supporters’ banners, placards and flags. The display, which for a time stretched to 40 metres, showed the horrors of war to anyone who passed. Despite attempts by the authorities to remove him from the square, Brian stood firm for ten years.

Over the years, police repeatedly dismantled brian’s display, and confiscated hundreds of his and his supporters’ possessions: tents, megaphones, banners, flags, photographs, chairs, flasks, teddy bears, lamps, clothes. After Brian died, police transported the material to his family’s home in the west midlands. In 2012, Brian’s family donated nearly a thousand objects to the Museum of London. Since the Museum acquired the material, only a handful of objects have been on public display.

In 2017, Michael and his wife Amanda visited the Museum’s off-site store to see the Haw Collection. ‘And There Was Brian’ is a record of this visit, and is now pinned to Parliament Square. On pressing ‘play’, you will hear Michael pay tribute to his friend. Together with a newly-digitised interview with Brian, he offers a compelling account of why Parliament Square misses Brian’s protest and why democracy demands that anyone can speak and protest in our public spaces.