Hands Up For Peace

Scope and Content

Papers created by the 'Hands Up For Peace' protest against the Iraq War, (2003), including: decorative hands, 2003; banners, 2003; photographs, 2003; and papers, 2003.

Administrative / Biographical History

The 'Hands Up For Peace' protest in opposition to the Iraq War (2003-2011) began as a conversation between Rowenna Davis, Neela Dolezalova and their classmates in the canteen of Hampstead School, London. The campaign cost approximatly £500 as was designed, organised and funded by young people.

Via their website (messengers.org.uk) the campaign invited young people to write a message to Tony Blair or George Bush regarding their thoughts on the proposed war in Iraq. Each message would be written on the persons hand print, traced on to papers and cut out. The Guardian newspaper reported in March 2003 that an estimated 2,500 hands had been received from as far away as Canada. The movement also gain support of national organisations, most notably the Woodcraft Folk.

Talking to the Guardian 20 March 2003, Neela Dolezalova stated, 'We wanted to do something creative, but we wanted an inclusive campaign. More children can get involved with this without leaving school. It also creates quite a disturbing visual image'.

The decorative hands and a 25 metre banner were displayed in Parliament Square on the day war was declared. The hands were also displayed in Hyde Park at the finale of a rally against the Iraq War, and as an instillation in City Hall, London.


The Hands Up For Peace archive is divided into the following four sections:

  • HUFP/1: Decorative Hands
  • HUFP/2: Banners
  • HUFP/3: Photographs
  • HUFP/4: Papers

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Deposited with Bishopsgate Institute by Neela Dolezalova and Stephen Felton, 2 October 2015

Other Finding Aids

Adlib catalogue and copy of handlist available in the researcher's area.

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Grace Biggins.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying and digital photography (without flash) is permitted for research purposes on completion of the Library's Copyright Declaration form and with respect to current UK copyright law.

Corporate Names