Making Lock-ons with Greenpeace

July 14, 2014

Vikki Jessop is Lead Technician for ‘Disobedient Objects’, and always ready to fix the many complex problems the exhibition throws at her.  In this post Vikki takes a break from installing our exhibition to discuss how she learned to make lock-ons with Greenpeace.  

I think if my mother knew just exactly how much time I’d spent researching how to lock myself onto a building she’d be somewhat concerned. Of course, this was just a normal start to the day for me back in March this year when I spent my morning not too far away from home at Greenpeace’s headquarters in Islington, North London. Here I met with their workshop manager -activist extraordinaire Luke- who told me all about the different ways in which Greenpeace have protested over the years, whilst giving me an exclusive tour of their workshop:

Touring the Greenpeace’s workshop. Photograph by Victoria Jessops.
An example of a previous lock on that was fabricated by Greenpeace

With what started off as a career in sailing, Luke explains that many of the activists we read about today are incredibly skilled and many have even had several years’ buildering experience before embarking upon working for Greenpeace.  (How else are you going to scale the Shard?!)

Touring Greenpeace. Photography by Vikki Jessops
Touring the Greenpeace workshop

As aforementioned in previous blog posts, Disobedient Objects is not your typical museum exhibition. Many of the works that appear in the show have only been made in the last year or so, which results it in feeling very relevant to many current worldwide issues. We invite visitors to engage in the objects, particularly with our ‘How To’ objects.  One such ‘How To’ demonstrates a usable ‘lock on’ activist piece not too dissimilar to those used at previous Greenpeace demonstrations, like this one here:

Lock-ons used in Greenpeace Demonstrations
Greenpeace have attached foam and carpet onto their lock ons in the past to make them harder to break into.

Of course, with little (read: no ) background in political demonstrations, I ended up spending the whole morning at Greenpeace HQ with Luke,  picking his brain with how we could work one of these into the exhibition. There’s only so far my squared notebook could help us with this challenge.  So we used the workshop facilities and set about rigging up, welding and making a scaled down lock on that I could then show the Disobedient Objects team back at the V&A.

Photography by Victoria Jessops
Preparing to TIG weld a scaled down lock on
Photography by Victoria Jessops
The finished result!

After returning to the museum, I spoke with a highly experienced Tig-welder in my team, John, who made this brilliant interpretation of a lock on that we could build into the show.  We’ve just moved it into the Porter Gallery ready for installation, but here it is in the workshop following its completion:

Lock on in the V&A Tech shop
The finished lock on created by John, in our metalwork workshop at the museum.

As lead technician for Disobedient Objects, this was just one of the many exciting challenges that have arisen for me in the past few months, and I’ll be sure to upload a blog post again in the next week to keep you in the loop about other technical-related things.

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