‘Both my parents are immigrants and came to London after the war, and sadly decades later, we are still seeing war, politics and corruption displacing people. As a father, I find the whole idea of taking my children on a life or death journey to find a better life absolutely terrifying. Your future is in the hands of criminals, and a dinghy and ultimately a cheap life vest.’
The artist Dave Buonaguidi read an article with this quotation from the diary of a refugee trying to take his family out of Syria, to which he has responded by creating an artwork ‘Life Boat’ made not from paper or canvas, but from a piece of thin black rubber from an inflatable dinghy.
The statistics are terrible – over the last five years over 16,000 people have died or have been lost trying to make such sea journeys to a better life, plus almost 700 so far in 2019 alone, while almost 2 million have succeeded in making such journeys across the sea. The organisation Help Refugees provides much-needed aid and assistance directly where it is needed. Can art save lives? It can this week within the 18th century architecture of Somerset House, where many well known contemporary artists from the UK have contributed new artwork or, in the case of Lauren Baker, a neon sign, around a t-shirt designed by Katharine Hamnett in the 1980′s with the powerful slogan ‘CHOOSE LOVE’, the design of which she gifted to Help Refugees in 2015, since when it has become a best-seller, raising some £500,000 to support their amazing work.
Print Club London has taken this a stage further, with artists such as Pure Evil, Rose Stallard, Nina Brooke, HAM, Rob & Roberta Smith and Morag Myerscough incorporating Hamnett’s slogan ‘CHOOSE LOVE’ into original artworks and limited edition prints to be sold to raise funds for Help Refugees, along with photographs by Alice Aedy.
Art can save lives!