Richard Lees’ journey from Rock Against Racism to Black Lives Matter in protest prints on display at York College gallery

Hull artist and activist Richard Lees at the launch of his Justice exhibition of past and present protest prints

A CAMPAIGNING Hull artist at the heart of the Rock Against Racism movement is exhibiting at York College until October 21.

The Justice show spans four decades of prints by Richard Lees in surprisingly his first show in York, with his latest campaign project to the fore.

“The exhibition is called Justice because my most recent linocut work has been inspired by – and is in solidarity with – the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and other justice campaigns,” said the East Yorkshire printmaker and stalwart activist at the launch.

A spread of Richard Lees’ prints at his Justice exhibition

“The show covers what’s happening now but also goes right back to the 1970s when I was a student in Hull producing prints for Rock Against Racism.”

Founded in 1976, the protest movement hosted several large-scale tours, concerts and smaller club events with big-name artists from diverse musical genres.

“I feel that all art has some element of politics in it, even if it’s to distract you,” said Richard, whose exhibition takes in his past print work – both silk screen and lino – created in response to equality, environmental and human rights issues in Great Britain and internationally. 

Activist Richard Lees’ prints, “created in response to equality, environmental and human rights issues in Great Britain and internationally”

“I just want to show young people what can be achieved by being part of a movement for equality. I’m absolutely thrilled to have been invited to exhibit at York College and I’m looking forward to speaking to the students.

“This is the first time my work’s been to York but it’s previously been on display in London at Warner Bros Records, in Manchester, Edinburgh and Hull.”

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Richard, a former English teacher, was invited to bring his work to York College by art & design tutor Danielle Stubbs, who said: “It’s a pleasure to have the work by Richard Lees on show in our gallery as the first show for this academic year. 

“We believe the themes within Richard’s prints will encourage greater awareness, and the printing methods used will be an inspiration for all students within the college.”

Please note: the Justice exhibition is open to the public, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, but booking is essential, with further details at or on 01904 770200. Admission is free.

A Richard Lees poster print for the This Is Hull Rock Against Racism UK Poster Tour 2016