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New art exhibition explores notorious murder of Lynette White and subsequent miscarriage of justice

22 Jun 2024 3 minute read
Artist and former police officer Ian Mackenzie with one of his paintings

A new exhibition set to open next month addresses the notorious Lynette White murder and subsequent miscarriage of justice.

The exhibition features the work of a former police officer and accomplished artist Ian Mackenzie and opens at Cardiff’s Blackwater Gallery on 4 July.

Lynette White was brutally murdered on 14 February 1988 in Cardiff’s docklands. Her body was found with over fifty stab wounds.

Wrongfully arrested

Despite initial reports of detectives seeking a white suspect, five black and mixed-race men were wrongfully arrested and charged with her murder, highlighting racial prejudice within the judicial system.

After a distinguished thirty-year career in the police force, Ian Mackenzie’s artwork examines the complexities of the case, offering viewers a chance to reflect on issues of race, justice, and societal flaws.

The gallery describes his paintings as, “a testament to the victims of these injustices and serve as a reminder of the continuous need for vigilance and reform in the justice system”.

Mackenzie, who has recently rekindled his passion for painting, says his rediscovery not only serves as personal fulfilment but also as a powerful medium to confront and depict historical injustices.

“I used my life experiences to attempt to create art that told stories of the hard-working, downtrodden and the forgotten in Welsh history. Coal, slate, gold, sailors, miners, prostitutes and landowners all feature in my Heritage Series,” he said.

“Of course, the Lynette White murder is a huge part of Welsh history, and I had an idea to capture the incident on canvas. However, most of my former colleagues told me to avoid the subject saying it was too controversial, but I needed to create everlasting art that represented the murder, the miscarriage of justice and the UK’s biggest-ever police corruption trial.”

The Cardiff Three

After two years in custody, John and Ronnie Actie were cleared by a jury at a second trial. However, Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi, and Tony Paris were found guilty and sentenced to life, becoming known as the Cardiff Three.

Following a massive campaign, the Court of Appeal in 1992 ruled that a gross miscarriage of justice had occurred.

“Even though I felt nervous about the reaction it may evoke with both police and Cardiff Bay communities, I became determined to achieve something that no one else had done before and I started to create ‘The Consequence’ and ‘Uproar,” Mackenzie said.

The exhibition commences on July 4th 2024, the anniversary of the sentencing of the actual murderer Jeffrey Gafoor, who on that day twenty-one years ago was found guilty and sentenced to life.”

The opening night at the Blackwater Gallery will feature a talk by Ian MacKenzie, where he will discuss these paintings, and reflect on his journey from policing to painting.

‘Insider’s perspective’

Blackwater Gallery founder Jamie Aherne says he feels that Blackwater’s mission to find and nurture emerging talent since it opened in 2019 has been exemplified by this upcoming exhibition.

“Ian’s collection offers an insider’s perspective on one of Wales’ most notorious cases and the subsequent miscarriage of justice,” he said.

“This exhibition is not just about showcasing art; it’s about sparking conversations and reflections on critical issues within our society. Ian’s paintings are a testament to resilience and the quest for justice.

“They serve as powerful reminders of the continuous need for vigilance and reform in our justice system. We are proud to provide a platform for such an important and thought-provoking collection.”

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