The Glasgow School of Art Design & Branding Ash To Art [image] by J. Walter Thompson London

Ash To Art [image]

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Industry Education
Media Design & Branding
Market United Kingdom
Agency J. Walter Thompson London
Executive Creative Director Russell Ramsey
Creative Giles Hepworth, Bill Hartley
Designer Chris Hutton
Photographer Will Bunce
Released October 2016


Cannes Lions 2017
Design Brand Environment & Experience Design: Spatial Brand Installation & Experience Bronze Lion

Credits & Description

Title: Ash To Art
Agency: J. Walter Thompson
Brand: Glasgow School Of Art
Country: United Kingdom
Entrant Company: J. Walter Thompson, London
Advertising Agency: J. Walter Thompson, London
Media Agency: J. Walter Thompson, London
Pr Agency: J. Walter Thompson, London
Production Company: J. Walter Thompson, London
Additional Company: The Glasgow School Of Art, Glasgow
Executive Creative Director: Russell Ramsey (J. Walter Thompson London)
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)
Senior Account Director: Sophia Redgrave (J. Walter Thompson London)
Account Director: Lynsey Houston (J. Walter Thompson London)
Account Manager: Jonah Werth (J. Walter Thompson London)
Designer: Chris Hutton (J. Walter Thompson London)
Photographer: Will Bunce (J. Walter Thompson London)
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.
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.
Campaign Description:
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. Each piece of ash was given powerful meaning and context by a label identifying it as ‘Bookcase. Charles Rennie Mackintosh. C. 1909’. These powerful 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.
3 years after the fire, The Glasgow School of Art became big news again as our exhibition and auction captured the attention of art lovers from around the world. The artists produced an inventive, diverse body of work that immortalised the old building, elevating the humble by-product of the fire into a legacy of 25 iconic pieces of art.The 3 day exhibition brought over 10,000 people into Christie’s and received mass coverage and positive reviews from key influencers in the artistic community, reaching 42% of the UK population. The auction was live streamed and drew global attention, attracting bids from 28 countries worldwide. The auction resulted in total sales of £706,438, and with further pieces still to be sold, our total is expected to be well in excess of £1 million.
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.