Hang your walls with art for a worthy cause
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Two painted figures stand hugging, in front of a burning funeral pyre, dark against the muted pink swirls of smoke and sky. They are “a reminder that we’re not here as isolated individuals, we’re here as something greater”, says British-Kenyan artist Michael Armitage, “and we have a responsibility to each other”.
His new print, an edition of 30, was commissioned for the Government Art Collection and Outset Contemporary Art Fund, as part of the Robson Orr TenTen Award scheme, to hang in embassies and high commissions across the world. In these spaces, art flexes its soft power: it’s a way “to tell the story of modern Britain, to talk about the relationships with various countries, and to show off artists from the UK”, explains arts and heritage minister Lord Parkinson, who presented the award.
Eleven of Armitage’s prints are also available to buy (from £5,000 plus VAT) – with the funds used to champion emerging and underrepresented artists. TenTen was launched in 2018, and so far, funds raised from prints created with Lubaina Himid, Rachel Whiteread, Hurvin Anderson, Yinka Shonibare and Tacita Dean (most of which remain available to buy) have been used to acquire 35 works by 28 artists, two of whom – Jesse Darling and Barbara Walker – were recently nominated for the Turner Prize. The TenTen prints will also, from this year, be taken into schools as part of an education programme.
That an increasing number of organisations are experimenting with art-print schemes is an exciting prospect. This year, US-headquartered artists’ agency Laird and Good Company launched Good Works Prints, a portfolio of works (from £97) by 10 photographers, directors and stylists they represent – including HTSI contributors Maureen M Evans, Rich Stapleton and William Jess Laird – with profits going to One Per Cent for the Planet impact fund. The mission is to raise awareness around environmental causes.
Elsewhere, art fair 1:54 and Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj have released an edition of 40 prints (£900) to raise money for those affected by the earthquake that struck Hajjaj’s home country in September, via The Assafou Association. Kudzanai-Violet Hwami has created a vibrant print (edition of 35, £3,573) with Avant Arte in support of LGBTQ+-led arts, health and social action charity Queercircle. And the past few weeks have seen a number of time-limited edition sales in support of civilians and medical-aid organisations in Palestine, such as Pictures for Palestine (until 12 December) and Perimetro’s Prints for Gaza (until 21 January).
Peter Doig has created Brixton Ritzy, a 150-edition print of dub poet and activist Linton Kwesi Johnson – whose Want Fi Goh Rave he selected for one of his Desert Island Discs. Each print, available from Paul Stolper Gallery, is £2,200 plus VAT (rising in price as the run sells out), and funds will be used to restore and repair London’s George Padmore Institute, an archive and educational centre for the UK’s Caribbean, African and Asian communities. “I get asked to make prints for various causes but will only choose the ones I have an affinity with or which are particularly urgently in need,” says Doig. “The Padmore project felt close to me because he is an important native of Trinidad – a country and whose people I feel very close to. George Padmore’s legacy and example should be remembered.”
Doig’s auction record is almost $40mn, so a print is also significantly more accessible. Likewise Antony Gormley, whose print Shelter, an edition of 100 for the Liverpool Biennial’s 25th anniversary, rings in at £900. It’s a distillation of many of the themes that echo throughout his work, says Gormley: “In Shelter, the spreading fields of pigment evoke a form that is both landscape and body crouching close to the ground. The dark, deep pool suggests the infinite space of thought and feeling that we find inside the body: a space of imagination and potential.” Funds will be used to stage a year-round programme of workshops for children and disadvantaged young people in the area.
Yorkshire’s Hepworth Wakefield’s School Prints is another dynamic scheme to inspire children. It revives a programme started in the 1940s that gifts prints by leading contemporary artists to local schools, and uses profits from the print sales to support in-school artist-led events. This year’s prints include untitled: boulders; 2022, 2022 (an edition of 40, £800), by Phyllida Barlow, which was one of the last works she made before she died in March this year.
Scottish artist Andrew Cranston has also created a beautiful print for Hepworth to coincide with his show. Why Did You Stop Here? (2023, edition of 40, from £850) supports the gallery programme as well as outreach events, a model that a number of other institutions also use. Highlights from around the UK include Peter Saville’s blue cloud on a pink sky, looks like you’ve reached the end (Found), 2022 (edition of 100, £100), for the ICA; Benoît Piéron’s dream-meets-nightmarescape Clear Cell Kaleidoscope (edition of 50, from £325) at Chisenhale; Tomás Saraceno’s arachnophilic Web(s) of Life (edition of 50, £870) at the Serpentine; Erwin Wurm’s lime-green crayon lithograph (edition of 50, £300) at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park; collectible pieces by Jake Grewal (edition of 30, £475) and Christina Kimeze (edition of 30, £580) and a Linder and Ashish collaboration (edition of 15, £280), all at Studio Voltaire. House of Voltaire is also holding a fundraising pop up, Twenty-Nine, at Thomas Dane Gallery’s London outpost until 16 December, which includes editions and objects as well as unique artworks.
Paintings are also on show in The Golden Thread, at boutique hotel Thyme in the Cotswolds. The exhibition of Kenyan paintings by Jemma Powell donates 25 per cent of profits to African conservation charity Tusk. “Art can act as an effective medium of change and inspiration to help us protect our natural world,” says Tusk CEO Charlie Mayhew OBE. “Not only via raising significant funds, but through capturing the essence of African wildlife and communities.” It’s a sentiment anchored in Africa, but which resonates around the world.