Art Against Knives is a London based charity founded after the unprovoked stabbing of Oliver Hemsley.
21-year-old Central St Martin’s art student Oliver Hemsley was attacked in August 2008 by a group of youths in Shoreditch, East London. The vicious assault partially severed Oliver’s spinal cord, leaving him fighting for his life and in intensive care for 134 days. One year on and Oliver will never walk again. He will also need constant medical attention for the rest of his life. Determined to salvage something positive from his experience, Oliver and close friend Katy Dawe formed Art Against Knives, a charity to help raise awareness of the UK’s knife crime through the power of art, a passion close to Oliver’s heart.
Art Against Knives has met with staggering success since its launch. With the charity hosting a two-day event at Shoreditch Town Hall last summer, that included an exhibition of photography, fashion, art and illustration from Oliver’s fellow Saint Martin’s students and culminated in an auction of work by fashion and art luminaries such as Vivienne Westwood, Anthony Gormley, Tim Walker, Giles Deacon and Richard Nicoll. This year Art Against Knives plan to launch ‘OurSpace’, an arts-based initiative in East London offering a creative outlet for young people in troubled areas to help steer them away from gang culture. They will also be joining forces with LoveBox in Victoria Park, where they will host life-drawing classes and sell T-shirts designed by St Martin’s students from the back of their Art Against Knives ice-cream van.
Filmmakers The Double have worked with Oliver and Katy to produce this short film (shown here) highlighting Oliver’s story. Watch it and pass it on.