“ The Migrate Art auction is a very creative approach enabling people to help with a desperate worldwide problem. ”

Rachel Whiteread

Collection: Multicolour

From the rubble of the Calais Jungle to the studios of some of the world’s leading contemporary artists - Multicolour is the product of more than 30 artists who created works using pencils that were salvaged from the Calais refugee camp after it was demolished back in 2016. The artworks raised an astonishing £121,000 in support of those impacted by the global refugee crisis. 

The exhibition was held at London’s Cork Street Galleries in 2019 and the featured artworks were then sold as part of Phillips’ ‘New Now’ sale. 90 per cent of the profits from the sale was split equally between RefuAid, Refugee Community Kitchen, The Lotus Flower and The Worldwide Tribe. 10 per cent of profits went into developing future Migrate Art projects.

 Multicolour – the story

Picture an area once filled with adults and children. This area is their life and livelihood where they eat, sleep, play and learn. Now picture this entire community flattened within the space of a few days. The area is laden with debris. Destructed shelters are scattered across the land. Toothbrushes are stamped into the dirt. Before launching Migrate Art, our founder Simon witnessed this distressing aftermath first hand in the Calais Jungle refugee camp, a place where 10,000 refugees had once lived before it was demolished in October 2016. The scene hit him hard, not least because he had been here before; Simon volunteered here at this very camp before it was razed, and he had seen its people, had seen their hope. 

Suddenly, all of that was gone, and as he walked through the ruin, something very specific stopped him in his tracks. 

Lying amidst the dirty debris was a mixture of crayons and colouring pencils. A school had stood here once, and a switch flicked for Simon. He collected the pencils and took them back to London. 

On his return home, Simon delivered those pencils to a number of leading contemporary artists including Richard Deacon, Anish Kapoor, Sean Scully, Rachel Whiteread, and Michael Craig- Martin. He asked each of them to use them to create original artworks in any way they wished. They immediately got to work – among the creations were drawings, sculptures, photographs and watercolours, all eventually presented in London’s Cork Street Galleries. But the significance of these works, and the impact they had the potential to make was yet to come. 

After being sold as part of Phillips’ ‘New Now’ sale, the works raised £121,000, donated across several charities who support those directly affected by the refugee crisis. 

This marked only the beginning for Simon, and indeed for Migrate Art. Strengthening its connections with respected contemporary artists who want to make a difference, combined with the exposure this project brought was a catalyst for Migrate Art’s pioneering and innovative projects today. 

See the works created for Multicolour below, with special thanks to our artists: Richard Deacon, Anish Kapoor, Sean Scully, Rachel Whiteread, Michael Craig- Martin, Gary Hume, the Connor Brothers, Jonathan Yeo, Annie Kevans, Ron Arad, Swoon, Conor Harrington, Chantal Joffe, Annie Morris, Edmund de Waal, Conrad Shawcross, Idris Khan, 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

" 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