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Ash to Art

Ash to Art | Glasgow School of Art | JWT
Download Download JPG | 4000x2836px
Industry: Public interest & Non-profit
Media:Direct Market
Market:United Kingdom
Style: Minimalism

The ash of a once magnificent art school touched the hearts of even the most charity-fatigued artists, and led to an unprecedented 100% response rate. One artist, an alumni, said: “I was overwhelmed by the significance of it. I felt a part of my life was in that box. I thought of all the people who had touched this piece when it was part of the Mackintosh Library.”The idea inspired exceptional commitment from the artists, some producing several pieces in collaborations that spanned the globe. The artists produced a body of work that immortalised the old building, elevating the humble by-product of the fire into 25 priceless pieces of art. The auction attracted bids from 28 countries, resulting in £706,438 raised and a PR reach to 42% of the population. With further pieces still to be sold, our total is expected to be in excess of £1million, reaching an ROI

The solution was to send each artist a piece of charcoal from the fire damaged building, presented in a pure white box. The charcoal was given powerful meaning and context by a label identifying it as ‘Bookcase. Charles Rennie Mackintosh. C. 1909’. The reverse of the label asked the artist to use the charcoal to create a new piece of art.It seemed appropriate to use charcoal, that classic art school drawing material and by-product of the fire, as the tool of the School’s rebirth. These relics of a much-loved institution evoked a powerful and emotive response - they were seen as precious articles and pieces of art in their own right. By quite literally giving artists the tools to rebuild the Glasgow School of Art, we stoked an emotional fire and placed the future of the School firmly in the hands of the UK’s creative community.

By sending the worthless by-product of a fire to 25 world-famous artists, we recruited some of the biggest names in art, and raised £706,438 to rebuild a world-famous institution.In May 2014, The Glasgow School of Art was devastated by fire. It was one of the UK’s most iconic buildings, and home to its most successful art school.By taking debris from the fire and sending it to world famous artists, we created a highly emotive mechanic that cut through the impenetrable layers of gallerists and gate-keepers, securing participation from every one of the artists we approached. The idea mobilised an art.

When a destructive fire wiped out the past, present and potentially the future of one of the UK’s most important centers of creativity, the global artistic community felt a flood of emotions. Shock. Grief. Sadness. We wanted to harness the emotion of this artistic community to raise money and publicity to rebuild the School. The challenge was to secure the support of artists alienated by constant requests from charities, so we needed to communicate directly and emotionally with them.

In May 2014, The Glasgow School of Art was devastated by fire. It was one of the UK’s most iconic buildings and home to its most successful art school. The building itself was a work of art. Tragically, the fire destroyed the Mackintosh Library, one of the world’s most famous Art Nouveau interiors and the masterpiece of visionary Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The Glasgow School of Art is an internationally renowned institution and has produced more winners of the Turner Prize (the UK’s most prestigious contemporary art prize) than any other school. After the fire, the School received limited financial help from the UK government and needed a transformational idea to raise funds and publicity for the rebuild.

Ash to Art. Our idea harnessed the solidarity of the artistic community by sending ash from the fire to 25 world-famous artists, and asking them to create a new piece of art, which would then be auctioned at Christie’s, the world’s biggest auction house, to rebuild the School. These powerful fragments, reminders of a much-loved art school, touched the hearts of even the most charity-fatigued artists. The use of that classic art school material – charcoal – to reincarnate the School, struck a chord with artists. One of the artists said, “it was like receiving the ashes of a dear friend” and another said, “it released the smell of the fire”. In supplying them with simply a raw material, we gave artists an open brief allowing free reign for their self-expression.
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Other credit:Creatives: Giles Hepworth, Bill Hartley
Head of Art: Dave Dye
Creative Producer: Kate Duncan
Entrant Company: J. WALTER THOMPSON, London, United Kingdom
Head of Art, Dave Dye, J. Walter Thompson London
Creative Producer, Kate Duncan, J. Walter Thompson London
Creative, Giles Hepworth, J. Walter Thompson London
Creative, Bill Hartley, J. Walter Thompson London
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2017
Shortlist Direct
Charities & Non-profit
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