Ash To Art

By J. Walter Thompson, London, UK

For Glasgow School of Art

Winner in category Design & Branding

In subcategory Installation/Experience/Exhibition

Project Description
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.
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.
Agency Solution
To exhibit our 25 new artworks, we required an exhibition space that was both renowned and accessible to the general public. Therefore we chose Christie’s global headquarters in King St, London to exhibit this very special body of unique work.
The exhibition was launched with a special press-event before opening to the general public on March 3rd 2017 and lasting four days, before going for auction on March 8th at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary day sale.
Despite the vast range of executions, from sculpture to drawing, painting to ceramic, all artworks contained the central thread of the school’s destruction, while simultaneously possessing its rebirth.
Through the light grey walls, somber lights and subtle livery, the space was both a fitting memorial to the library’s death and provided the quiet, reflective space to both commemorate what once was, but to imagine and inspire what will be.
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