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People’s History Museum unveils Peterloo mural by Axel Void

2 November 2018

Axel Void artwork commissioned to mark 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre


From left to right: People's History Museum, Axel Void, Peterloo. mural, 2018 and People's History Museum entrance

People’s History Museum has unveiled a new mural by international street artist Axel Void, which has been commissioned to mark the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre.

The mural, entitled Peterloo. emblazons the exterior wall of the museum in Manchester’s city centre, overlooking the River Irwell, as a tribute to the sacrifices of the ordinary people who stood up to achieve equality for all.  Void has depicted a mother and child, symbolising those who came to St Peter’s Field to seek the rights of representation.  His work explores the historical event from the perspective of those involved, asking, if this happened in our time, who would these people be now and what would they be fighting for?

The mother and child are Manchester resident Lydia and her two year old son, Ezra. As a daughter of a Windrush victim, the experiences of her family provide a counterpoint to the injustices of the past.  The first victim of Peterloo was a two year old child, thrust from his mother’s arms as she fled the soldiers, making the depiction of a mother and child a poignant reminder of some of the 18 lives that were lost on 16 August 1819 when the peaceful protest turned into a massacre.  Lydia and her son’s white clothes are a reference to the fact that many of the women who came to Peterloo wore this colour; their Sunday best clothing being a symbolic repost to the way they had been vilified in the media.

The commission is the result of a partnership between People’s History Museum and international arts organisation Cities of Hope, which gives a voice to the voiceless through street art.  Axel Void works globally with Cities of Hope merging mural art, graffiti, oil and acrylic paint, creating striking works that highlight important social issues.

Michael Powell, Programme Officer for the People’s History Museum, says, “Axel Void’s work is a powerful reminder that 200 years on, whilst things have moved forwards, the fight for equality is very much ongoing.  The legacy of Peterloo and its relevance to our lives today is something that we invite visitors to discover at People’s History Museum.”

Those visiting People’s History Museum to see the Peterloo. mural will find themselves taking a journey that begins at the Peterloo Massacre and spans the stories of those who have fought for rights and equality for all ever since.  Its current exhibition Represent! Voices 100 Years On, marks one of the most significant chapters in this narrative; the centenary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act (1918) when all men and some women won the right to vote in Britain.

From January 2019 the museum’s exploration of Peterloo will be marked with a new display of banners reflecting key moments of protest, as it opens a year long programme dedicated to the past, present and future of protest.  In spring 2019 the museum’s headline exhibition Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest will open (23 March 2019 to 23 February 2020).  This will feature newly acquired Peterloo artefacts brought together for the first time and a specially commissioned film that will tell the story of Peterloo and the road to democratic reform.

People’s History Museum is open seven days a week from 10.00am to 5.00pm, Radical Lates are every second Thursday each month (until 8.00pm).  The museum is free to enter with a suggested donation of £5.  To find out about visiting the museum, its learning programme and more, visit


For further information or to arrange a visit / interviews please contact Fido PR: / 0161 832 3588


Notes to editors:

People’s History Museum’s (PHM) resources, collections and spokespeople are available to support the telling of the story of the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre through the lens of protest.

PHM’s galleries: within the main galleries PHM has a permanent area that focuses upon the story and impact of the Peterloo Massacre.  Displays of artefacts include original Peterloo swords and commemorative pieces including a handkerchief, ceramics and medals.  Filming, photography and interviews can take place in this space.

PHM’s archive: the museum’s archive holds original newspaper articles from 1819 that reported on the Peterloo Massacre taking place.  These include:

  • The Liverpool Mercury
  • Washington’s National Intelligence
  • The Black Dwarf, a London weekly publication

PHM’s conservation studio: arrangements can be made to visit The Conservation Studio which is renowned for the treatment of textiles; maintaining the museum’s own banner collection and undertaking external commissions.

A viewing area from Main Gallery Two enables visitors to see the Conservation Team at work.  This state of the art facility has an internationally regarded reputation.


Jenny Mabbott, Head of Collections & Engagement: 

As Head of Collections & Engagement, Jenny is responsible for overseeing the way that PHM commemorates the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre.  In addition to talking about PHM’s approach and collections, she can provide both the historical and contemporary context to Peterloo.

Michael Powell, Programme Officer:

Michael has been working with historians and communities to plan PHM’s programme of activity for 2019.  He has also been responsible for developing the learning programme in partnership with Manchester Histories.  In addition to talking about the 2019 bicentenary, he can share his insight into the museum’s rich collections and archives.

Helen Antrobus, Programme Officer:

Helen Antrobus is a specialist in the history and collections relating to 20th century radical women; from the women who marched at Peterloo, to the female Chartists; the women’s suffrage movement, to the first female MPs.  Helen can bring to life the stories of these women and marry them to the stories of protest and activism today.

Dr Shirin Hirsch, Researcher:

Shirin is a historian in residence at PHM.  She specialises in the history of modern Britain with a particular focus on the labour movement, as well as questions of race and Empire.  Shirin is currently undertaking research on Peterloo and the global context of the early 1800s democracy movement in Manchester.  She can talk about the history of Peterloo as well as PHM’s objects and archive material from this period.

Jenny van Enckevort, Conservation Manager:

Jenny oversees The Conservation Studio where the team look after not only the museum’s collection, but also take external commissions.  The studio’s large scale facilities and specialist equipment make this a unique operation.  The work that it does to conserve the museum’s world class collection of banners is just one of the areas that Jenny can talk about.

Kloe Rumsey, Conservator:

Kloe specialises in object conservation and cares for the whole collection, including banners, furniture, ceramics and posters.  Kloe has already started work on the artefacts that will be on display in 2019 and can talk about these objects and their stories.

About People’s History Museum (PHM)

People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain: past, present, and future.  The museum provides opportunities for people of all ages to learn about, be inspired by and get involved in ideas worth fighting for; ideas such as equality, social justice, co-operation, and a fair world for all.  PHM offers a powerful programme with annual themes; 2018 looks at representation and commemorates 100 years since the first women and all men got the vote, 2019 will see a year of activities around protest movements to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester and the programme for 2020 will be on the theme of migration and identity. 2017-2018 winner of Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award.

About Arts Council England (ACE)

PHM is an Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation (NPO).  The work of PHM is supported using public funding by ACE, the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives.  ACE support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections.  Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us.  In short, it makes life better.  Between 2018 and 2022, ACE will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

About Axel Void

Axel Void (Alejandro Hugo Dorda Mevs) was born in Miami in 1986 to a Haitian mother and a Spanish father.  He was raised in Spain from the age of three, where he was strongly influenced by classical painting and drawing.  Axel Void has been in contact with graffiti writing since 1999.  He studied Fine Arts in Cádiz, Granada, and Sevilla, and based himself in Berlin until moving to Miami in 2013, where he currently resides.

About Cities of Hope

Cities of Hope uses street art to champion the voice of the powerless.  Their activities bring people together to raise awareness, challenge injustice and inspire action.  Working alongside the oppressed, they collaborate with internationally renowned artists and grassroots organisations to challenge divisive narratives and build solidarity across communities.

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