Aswarm / Holding the Flame
page-template,page-template-full_width,page-template-full_width-php,page,page-id-4033,bridge-core-2.3.4,,qode-title-hidden,paspartu_enabled,paspartu_on_bottom_fixed,qode_grid_1300,qode_popup_menu_push_text_right,qode-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,qode-theme-ver-22.0,qode-theme-bridge,hide_inital_sticky,disabled_footer_top,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.2.0,vc_responsive,elementor-default,elementor-kit-2354

Holding the Flame -About

Welcome to Holding the Flame

The first in a series of AR-Statue Interventions, inserted in Brixton’s Canterbury Square directly outside Brixton Police Station and later feeding out to other cities linked to the Brixton uprisings in 1981.
Offering a contemporary alternative to the statues in our streets, inviting us to listen as well as view it.

It is part of a program of commissions for 81Acts of Exuberant Defiance, responding to the 40th anniversary of the Brixton uprising.

Asking what do we want from Public statues? and who should they celebrate?

Holding the Flame was conceived in response to a commission to transform and augment Canterbury Square Brixton as part of the year long project 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance. The project responds to this location’s role today and 40 years ago at the front line of the Brixton Uprisings, and also to the issue of statues today and where we are at with racial equality.

We felt this square should have a statue to commemorate this location’s role past and present, but not just via another immobile lump of metal or stone edifying someone past. Instead something contemporary, dynamic and in a sense alive.

 We used the latest 3D scanning technology to scan and record prominent campaigner, Marcia Rigg, who is active today. We felt she should be celebrated for her role campaigning for racial justice and for the accountability of our employees of the state (police, prisons and mental health care) whose actions and excessive use of force, have at times left families and communities grieving and then fighting for justice.

 Augmented Reality allows us to insert statues into public spaces, that can change rapidly in respond to events and that can incorporate campaigners who are alive today. People that are able to inspire, to listen, to question and to be questioned.

This statue will change too. It is our intention that it holds a torch, as a beacon and baton to pass on to the next person that we (the community) feel should be celebrated in our shared public space.”


The Augmented Reality statue uses new technology, which is still very much in development. This intervention will launch in Phase One with a downloadable App to beta test and gather public feedback. Then in Phase Two we will offer a cross platform interface incorporating WebAR and imbed a target trigger image sited in the square throughout the year of 81Acts of Exuberant Defiance (April 2021-April 2022).

I can’t use the app, how else can I experience it?

We believe AR can be so much more than an App on your phone. For a start  this statue breaths!  Yes you can listen to it as well as view it!  (Once the AR_Statue appears in your app it also plays the sound of Marcia breathing). Plus Click the sound button in the app and hear the statue talk about her story.

-Regardless of your phone, we’ve  also built a Wheely-Tree-Screen , that presents the AR via a big LCD TV screen, mounted atop an oak tree trunk base.

The intention is that is will be wheeled into the square on a regular basis for the duration of 81 Acts, accompanied by a real person who you can chat to about it,  inviting people to explore the piece regardless of their smart phone ownership. It also offers a bridge between the digital and the real, the ether and the squares memorial tree.

Whose behind this mischief?

The concept was developed by artist Thor McIntyre-Burnie, director of Brixton based transformative Public Arts company Aswarm . It was  commissioned by 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance. It presents a new creative collaboration between Aswarm, United Family & Friends Campaign and Alpha Apps.

Aswarm & Alpha Apps are based in Brixton, but work internationally. UFFC are a Nationwide campaign focused on fighting for justice for families whose loved ones have died in Police custody or in the prison or mental health system.

Of course there is a team of partners who have made this all possible and we’d like to thank and shout out their names.

81 Acts

Commissioned by 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance

1 Acts seeks to understand what has caused division and what has enabled unity in 1981 and now. It will explore how conflict can build grounds for consensus; how justice has been served, and how healing from violent trauma occurs.

We will tell new and important stories about Brixton’s past, build a new model for social innovation that will support citizen participation and empower agency across diverse voices – strengthening community cohesion and resilience in Brixton and providing an exemplary case-study further afield.

We will be creatively bold and daring, risk[1]taking and resourceful in pushing at the boundaries of ‘official’ narratives and disrupting complacent systems. Driven by inclusivity and authenticity, working with people to bring people together in raised consciousness and connection, providing safe spaces for dialogue and reflection.

For More Info &  to read their Humanifesto see:

The Alpha Apps

The Alpha Apps

We asked Alpha to join us in this project to develop the Application as we wanted to work with programmers who had roots in Brixton. They are a really exciting new company that has gown out of a Brixton school , a duo who began winning so many competitions they decided to form a company and now their really going places!

The AlphaApps is a former teacher/student duo who aim is to look at

new ways of presenting technology, specifically through smartphone

applications. This business began as a school project when (the now

18 years old) Charles Clayton’s form tutor, Sumair Mohammad,

encouraged him to take part in the TeenTech Awards competition. For

this contest the South London developer came up with a concept that

attracted the attention of the CTO of Disney Animations, Nick Cannon,

who agreed to mentor him throughout the process and helped him

with developing this product.

After winning the ‘Future of Music, Media and Entertainment Award’ at

the 2018 TeenTech Awards, as well as receiving praise from the CEOs

of Vodafone and Microsoft UK, Charles knew it was time to turn his

‘school project’ into a real business. The AlphaApps have seen success

after being rated ‘best business presentation’ at both technology

conferences; COMPTIA and The Global Innovation Forum. They were

also invited into Buckingham Palace in 2019 to be congratulated for

their work. Their intention is to inspire other people younger than

them to get involved in technology as they believe this is an

industry that is truly open for all, where the only limitation

is your creativity.

Who are Alpha?

Charles Clayton – CEO

Charles Clayton is an 18 year old developer currently studying Computer Science and Psychology at Ada College (Computer Science College in Tottenham). Born and raised in South London, England, Charles recognises the link between hard work and success. He firmly believes that to achieve extraordinary results, you cannot get there doing ordinary actions. His responsibilities within the team go beyond just managing every member, Charles designs all of the artwork as well as taking a lead in developing many of the games and apps we



Sumair Mohammad – Managing Director

Sumair was the form tutor/Computer Science teacher of Charles. He initially saw potential in him after Charles grew a passion for the project and wanted to tun it into a business. Sumair agreed to help with managing the business and so took on the role to advise Charles. Sumair has been teaching in Brixton since 2015 and has won The Teacher Of The Year Award as well as a Platinum Award for his contributions to STEM education. Sumair manages The AlphaApps’ international relations.


 London, United Kingdom. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Marcia Rigg

Marcia Rigg

We are delighted and honoured that Marcia agreed to be the first person to hold the torch in this AR-Statue initiative. She not only is a leading campaigner for UFFC and for Racial Justice, and cited as one of the top 100 most influential black women in Briton, she has direct and quite profound relationship with this site.

On 21st Aug 2008 her brother Sean Rigg was arrested and restrained by Brixton police – he died very shortly after whilst in custody at Brixton Police Station.   Despite 11 years of legal proceedings, no-one has been held accountable and the officers involved remained in post.  And so she has returned every year for 13 years to this very place to place flowers upon what has become known as the memorial tree in Canterbury square outside the police station as a vigil and to demand justice . (A more detailed account is covered here: .

And so Marcia returns again this year in 2021, 13 years on from her Brothers death and 40 years on from the Brixton Uprisings, but this time in a Vigil with a difference.  – Once again to place flowers on the tree and stand proud, strong and resolute, holding her vigil candle in a black power solute, remembering her brother Sean and reminding us that we still have a lot of work to do and also that with determination we can bring about positive change!

  • We also recorded an interview with Marcia about the intentions, emotions and actions behind her pose and the significance and stories about what she chose to wear and do in this statue. You can listen to it by downloading the app and pressing the sound icon.
  • Also – shortly we’ll update this page with a visual breakdown to support this recording.


United Family & Friends Campaign

UFFC worked with Aswarm to find the right candidate to be the first statue, as both an individual campaigner and as an active member of the UFFC.  A person who could represent one of the many members and who could talk about the issues and  experiences that they campaign is built around.

The United Families & Friends Campaign (UFFC), is a coalition of those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody, supports others in similar situations. Established in 1997 initially as a network of black families, over recent years the group has expanded and now includes the families and friends of people from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

The coalition includes the families of: Leon Patterson (died in police custody in 1992), Roger Sylvester (died after being restrained by police in 1999), David (Rocky) Bennett (died in psychiatric custody in 1998), Harry Stanley (shot dead by police officers in 1999) and Sarah Campbell (died in Styal prison in 2003) and many others.

At the press conference, Arlington Trotman of the Churches Commission for Racial Justice (CCRJ) commented: “Deaths in custody and the way that the victims are handled by the state is a tragedy. The [families] not knowing for years and years how their loved ones died and the poor treatment of families during that process.”

He also called for transparency in the criminal justice system and for its workers to stand back and take a look at the suffering of the families affected, particularly those from black and minority ethnic communities. For him, Christian principles meant extending concern and support to the families of the UFFC coalition.

“No Justice – No Peace”

Tom Barnett

Tom Barnett

Tom took on the task of transforming the full texture 3D scans of Marcia from Thors first stage of workings, re-tweaking and re-working them into the more polished stunning images you see here.

Tom Barnett is a freelance digital artist based in Hampshire. He works in 3d media production (digital sculpting and 3D architectural visualisation), in film and animation, and in graphics and branding. With a background in visual art and education he is as much at home working in a corporate setting as he is collaborating on art projects and is always looking for opportunities to expand the boundaries of his experience such as with the AR elements of this project.


The Brixton Project

The Brixton Project are the Producers working in partnership with 81 Acts to negotiate permissions and help deliver the first phase of Acts.

The Brixton Project is a community arts agency, organising out of Brixton’s vital not-for-profit hub in International House. We believe creativity and the arts are essential to a thriving ecosystem, and are key drivers for future sustainability.

Recent projects include Windrush anniversary celebrations, teachers’ packs for Lambeth’s Townscape Heritage Initiative, lead producing partner for 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance and Make It in Brixton, the campaign to promote Brixton’s Creative Enterprise Zone. We’re also the team that made the Love & Peace bridge happen.

Thor McIntyre-Burnie

Thor is an award winning artist and Creative director of Aswarm. With over 25 years experience of creating art works and interventions largely in public and site specific locations, Thor is on a mission to invent new ways we can utilise our public free space, creating interactive and often immersive art works that transform how a site and technology can function.

See Aswarms About Page for more info:

Marcia's Jewellery as described in her in-App interview

call to action image


We’d really love to hear your feedback, Please can you email: and or use the Hashtag #HoldingTheFlame



Stay tuned for phase 2 developing a WebAR solution.

We’d like to thank The Alpha Apps for their work programming the iOS Application and ongoing development of the webAR solution.