Rev Billy

If you don’t know the Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, you are missing out. I first met him at Downing St on his 2009 UK Shopocalypse Tour, and later in the day he joined in the Demonstration against Police Violence.

Rev Billy conducting the BP Exorcism

But more incredible still was Rev Billy’s Tate BP Exorcism in July 2011, and as well as my pictures there is a fine video on Vimeo, by You and I Films.

I was keen to meet him again and to photograph his performance on climate change at the Victoria (or Belgravia as they call it) Branch of the bank which is one of the main funders backing climate change – as well as a major tax dodger through its huge use of offshore tax havens – Rev Billy at HSBC.

Golden Toads and a gorilla leaving HSBC

Rev Billy was rather less prominent in this action, with the jaguars, eagles and monkeys taking the leading roles, dancing around the branch in their various styles until dying from the effects of climate change, and then being rescued by the Golden Toads (a species already made extinct by the effect on their habitat of global warming.)

Eagles, monkeys and jaguars dance around HSBC, while a customer ignores them to get cash

Of course the Rev was there, preaching with a megaphone, explaining what was happening and why, and calling on HSBC to repent and cease its sinful practices.

Rev Billy preaching in HSBC

Photographically there were few problems, except on first entering the bank where we all had to try and be inconspicuous. The last thing I wanted was for one of the bank staff to tell me I couldn’t photograph in the bank (where cameras are normally not allowed to be used) though I would have almost certainly have decided I had a public interest defence to ignore such as request.  But it was important not to interfere or prejudice the performance (and it was conducted as a performance rather than protest.) Fortunately the bank had very large glass windows and light levels were fairly high, though had I been thinking more sensibly I would have increased the ISO setting on my cameras, as when the dancing started some of the images were blurred in the wrong places. Blur can sometimes be creative and useful – as in the top picture, where I think I’ve deliberately zoomed the lens during exposure, but usually it just makes images unusable.

You can see the whole thing from the planning and rehearsing before hand to the finale outside the bank on Rev Billy at HSBC.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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One Response to “Rev Billy”

  1. […] at the end of July, I photographed the Rev Billy and his team, including those who responded to his call in London, rehearsing and then performing […]

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