Our 2019 project, Multicolour, saw many of the world’s leading artists – such as Richard Deacon, Anish Kapoor, Sean Scully, Rachel Whiteread, and Michael Craig- Martin- create works using the pencils we salvaged from the Calais refugee camp after it was demolished back in 2016. The 32 brand new works were exhibited at Cork Street Galleries in central London and were then sold as part of Phillips’ ‘New Now’ sale on the 11 April.
The Calais Jungle refugee camp, formerly housing approximately 10,000 refugees, was demolished by French Authorities in October 2016. The Jungle, which had previously been full of life was transformed into a wasteland in the space of a few days. Shortly after the camp’s destruction, we re-visited the flattened site, and found signs of the people that had lived there. Debris from the demolished shelters had been scattered across the whole site; where the bathrooms once stood, we found toothbrushes embedded in the soil, and a number of coloured pencils and crayons were found in the dirt where the children’s school had previously been. It was these muddy pencils we brought back to London and sent out to leading contemporary artists, encouraging them to incorporate into original artworks in any way they wished, whether through drawing, sculpture or photography.
Other artists who have contributed artworks to the project: Gary Hume, the Connor Brothers, Jonathan Yeo, Annie Kevans, Ron Arad, Swoon, Conor Harrington, Chantal Joffe, Annie Morris, Edmund de Waal, Conrad Shawcross, Idris Kahn, Keith Coventry, Kevin Francis Gray, Maggi Hambling, Paola Pivi, Pejac, Raqib Shaw, Richard Woods, Robert Montgomery, Zhang Huan, and Yahon Chang.
Read the conversation with Migrate Art Founder Simon Butler with Philips here.
The artworks went to auction at Phillips London in April 2019, raising a total of £121,000 in support of those affected by the global refugee crisis. 90% of profits from the sale of these works was distributed equally between Migrate's charity partners: RefuAid, Refugee Community Kitchen, The Lotus Flower and The Worldwide Tribe, while 10% went into developing future Migrate Art projects.
"Whether or not today's refugees are fleeing from political or economic trouble, I identify with and have great empathy for the sense of displacement they must feel. The only way I can express my true feelings is through my art..." — Raqib Shaw