The philosophical debate of “life imitating art” versus “art imitating life” could not apply more to Oliver Hemsley, co-founder of Art Against Knives.
The Central Saint Martins art student was stabbed in August 2008 in Shoreditch, East London. His spinal chord was partly severed forcing Oliver into intensive care for 134 days. From this misfortune, Art Against Knives was born. Oliver and his friend Katy Dawe began the charity in order to stop knife crime in the UK with a two-night exhibition thrown by Oliver’s friends and Saint Martin’s students. They auctioned off works donated by Vivienne Westwood, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Banksy and many more. The exhibition was such a success that Oliver and Katy were able to open Ourspace, a place that encourages young people to engage in art instead of gang culture.
This week, in a collaborative effort with Agenda Photography, YH! World, Poached Creative and Hackney’s Young Photographers, AAK are putting on a photography exhibition called ‘FYI: Focused Young Individuals’. Displaying the works of over 30 young photographers, the event will take place at The Rebel Dining Society. AAK was proud to join forces with several existing youth focused art organisations in order to further benefit the community with a message of artistic vision triumphing over violence.
Though one random occurrence changed Oliver’s life forever, his purposeful response can, in turn, change the lives of many young people.
‘FYI: Focused Young Individuals’ at The Rebel Dining Society, 30 Vyner Street HQ E29QD runs from 6th-13th October.
Art Against Knives are members of the Honda Dream Factory, for more information visit dreamfactoryuk.com
Text: Lily Avnet