Born from the unprovoked stabbing of art student Oliver Hemsley.
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ART AGAINST KNIVES was born from the unprovoked stabbing of Oliver Hemsley, a 21-year-old student from Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. The attack, which has left Oliver in a wheelchair, took place in Shoreditch (East London) in August 2008.

In just 6 years we’ve engaged, listened to and supported over 1000 young people at risk or involved in violent crime in London. Our long-term, locally embedded projects are co-designed with young people, ensuring they are both rooted in communities and connected with industry.

  • In 2012, our flagship music project brought together young people from different postcodes. 70% are now studying music or working in the industry.
  • In 2014 The British Red Cross commissioned videos about first aid in knife attacks. We worked with young people with personal experience and Mother Advertising Agency to create unique animations that received 350k views and are used nationally for training in schools.
  • Our Creative Collaborations programme reached 565 young people through 6 unique creative projects; 70% sustained their involvement, 40% attended on a weekly basis for 3 years.
  • In 4 years we’ve supported over 400 young women through our award winning ‘community nail bars’; 57% of young women attend regularly, 52% have received additional specialist support, 30% referred into specialist support services. We won the 2015 National TPAS award for excellence in youth involvement and have been featured by the likes of Radio 4’s Today programme.
  • Our pop-up music studio THE LAB has supported 119 young people since 2015. The weekly sessions are oversubscribed, with 90% of the young people choosing to attend. Their showcases have been supported by the likes of Universal Music.

“I used to be a criminal and had money, but no future. Now I just have my student loan but all I do is create and support other young people thanks to ART AGAINST KNIVES.  John, Volunteer

Watch our ROLE MODELS film HERE

ART AGAINST KNIVES started life as an exhibition organised by Oliver’s friends and fellow Central Saint Martin’s students to raise money and awareness a year after he was attacked. The event gained support from some of the biggest names in art and fashion with work donated by Tracey Emin, Rankin, Antony Gormley, Tim Walker, Christopher Kane, and Banksy, amongst others. Charitable activities began as creative community projects with a focus on providing young people with a voice, and a positive way to express the social problems they face.

Find out more about WHAT WE DO