The Art of Derek Dohren
Poor policing and crowd control fuelled a strong anti-football supporter culture, a culture which casually saw no harm in herding people into caged and crumbling terracing. That tragic combination of circumstances resulted in an appallingly large death toll.
Many more were injured. Inevitably there have been scores of deaths since, deaths linked to scars both mental and physical, inflicted on that day.
Though the Taylor Report most clearly laid the blame for the disaster on the shoulders of the South Yorkshire Police Force no one from that organisation has been punished or brought to book.
Via the cynical and systematic processes of misinformation, cover up and smear tactics the public perception of blame for the disaster has been shifted onto the shoulders of the victims.
The families of those who died will continue to fight for justice, for as long as it takes.
This first painting is my interpretation of the crush. Liverpool were allocated the Leppings Lane end of the stadium. The majority of fans killed were crushed up against the retaining fence at the front of the terracing. Others were killed in an access tunnel feeding into the terraces.
In the hour or so before the final tragedy, when it had long become apparent that supporters had not been safely spaced out into adjacent areas of relatively empty terracing, the police spent a good deal of time either looking the other way at those in obvious distress or engaged themselves in the appalling activity of shouting them down.
In the top of the painting some of the luckier fans can be seen being hauled up to the safety of the seated area above the terracing. The stadium was covered by cctv cameras and the scenes were played out on television. The series of coloured dots in the lower foreground represent the many thousands inside the stadium who watched helplessly and the many millions of people who witnessed events unfold on their tv screens.
As it became apparent, even to the police, that people were either dead or seriously injured the game was stopped and the fences began to be torn down. However paramedics were not allowed inside the ground as the view of the South Yorkshire force was that fans were rioting and it was unsafe. As 42 ambulances and their associated trained medics waited outside in the street the surving supporters did their best to administer cpr to the stricken and ferried them across the pitch on ripped up advertising hoardings.
The aftermath. Over 90 people are now dead. A supporter crouches down pitchside in front of the ripped open fencing. Behind him is the tunnel through which thousands of fans surged in a final crush when the police outside the stadium panicked and opened a main gate with no thought of the consequences. Some of the steel crash barriers have buckled under the strain of too many bodies.
These paintings were painted on the 20th anniversary of the disaster, in April 2009.
A selection of my paintings and photography
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