Star Artists Make Art from Ash to Help Refugees

Upcoming Auctions, Art News, Exhibition Announcements

September 18, 2020

There have been many charity exhibitions and sales out there lately, which comes as no surprise given the current state of the world. Today, we present another one to pay attention to, and not just because a great line-up of well-known contemporary artists is participating in it.

Migrate Art is an organization that uses artwork to raise money for the displaced and homeless communities around the globe. Among their most notable recent project there is #masksformeals, for which artists designed face masks to support Refugee Community Kitchen in the UK; or Multicolor, which saw the likes of Anish Kapoor and Sean Scully create works using the pencils salvaged from the Calais refugee camp. After being exhibited at Cork Street Galleries in London, these art pieces were auctioned off at Phillips, raising a total of £121,000 for Migrate Art's three charity partners.

Their current project, Scorched Earth, once again draws familiar names in contemporary art for a good cause, one that will see art rise from the ashes - quite literally. 

Ash is picked from burnt crop fields in Iraq and turned into paint in London for the Scorched Earth Project. Courtesy Migrate Art

Scorched Earth

In 2019, Migrate Art's founder Simon Butler visited refugee camps in Iraq with one of the organization’s charity partners, The Lotus Flower. What he found there were hundreds of thousands of acres of destroyed crop fields. These are a result of deliberate, widespread actions by organized militia groups such as ISIS, who have been using destruction as an intimidation tactic, creating a serious decline in food production and supply.

Simon then collected the ash from the burnt Iraqi crop fields and brought it back to London. He then gave it to Jackson's Art Supplies, who produced high quality oil and acrylic paint, using this ash as pigment. The paint was sent to some of the leading contemporary artists, who used it to create brand new work to be put on view, and auctioned off this October.

One of the artists participating in Scorched Earth, the acclaimed painter Loie Hollowell, said she couldn't say no to such great initiative.

When I was approached to take part in Migrate Art’s project, I kept thinking about this intense, primal love that a mother has over her children, how I feel about my two children... I felt inspired to participate because providing safe passage for families and refugees is important work, and I’m honored to be able to help. 

Migrate Art's Exhibition and Auction

Works from Scorched Earth are on view at Cork Street Galleries from September 19 through 27, 2020. They will then be auctioned off in Christie's Post War & Contemporary Day Sale in London on October 23, 2020. The auction preview will be from October 6 through 22.

Funds raised by the project will be divided between Migrate Art and their three charity partners – RefuAid, Refugee Community Kitchen and The Lotus Flower.

Also as a part of the initiative, Shepard Fairey has designed two limited-edition screen prints using ink pigmented with the ash, available for sale through Migrate Art's website from October for £650 each.

Full artist list: Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Conor Harrington, Jason Martin, Jules de Balincourt, Loie Hollowell, Mona Hatoum, Nathalie du Pasquier, Rachel Whiteread, Raqib Shaw, Richard Deacon, Richard Long, Walid Siti and Yahon Chang.

Featured image: Anish Kapoor's artwork for Scorched Earth. Courtesy Migrate Art.