"When I was approached to take part in Migrate Art’s project, I kept thinking about this intense, primal love that a mother has over her children, how I feel about my two children... I felt inspired to participate because providing safe passage for families and refugees is important work, and I’m honored to be able to help."

Loie Hollowell

Collection: Scorched Earth

'A great selection of artists' Charles Saatchi


In September 2020, ash became the basis of a striking exhibition in London’s Cork Street Galleries, but on first glance, you mightn’t have realised it was there. It was no ordinary, nor coincidental occurrence - this ash travelled from burnt crop fields in Iraq and was used as a pigment for paint. Talented artists turned it into a series of striking visuals which provided a new lens on the ongoing refugee crisis the Middle Eastern country faces. 

Created by a range of leading artists including Antony Gormley, Richard Deacon, Anish Kapoor, Loie Hollowell and Mona Hatoum, the auction raised more than £262,000, 80%of which was donated in equal proportion to our three charity partners; RefuAid, Refugee Community Kitchen and The Lotus Flower. Their work supports individuals and communities affected by the global refugee crisis. 

The Scorched Earth story

In 2019, our founder Simon Butler visited refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan with one of our charity partners, The Lotus Flower, which provides support to women and children displaced by war. The region has faced deliberate destruction of hundreds of thousands of acres of crops following devastating fires. This has threatened food security, and amounted to tens of thousands of US dollars lost within the community.  These fires have been attributed to organised militia groups who are using them as an intimidation tactic, most likely ISIS. 

Seeing this destruction first-hand had a significant impact on Simon, and his next move became clear: He collected ash from the scorched Kurdish land and brought it back to London, collaborating with Jackson's to produce paint using the ash as a pigment. He then distributed this to artists who used it to create original artworks. From here, Scorched Earth became a reality.  

Other artists who provided original works with the ash-based paint included Conor Harrington, Jason Martin, Jules de Balincourt, Nathalie du Pasquier, Rachel Whiteread, Raqib Shaw, Richard Long, Walid Siti and Yahon Chang. The exhibition also included a selection of charcoal drawings on paper made by children living in an Iraqi refugee camp during art workshops hosted by Migrate Art.

In a final and welcome addition to the project, Shepard Fairey designed two limited-edition screen prints using ink pigmented with the ash. These prints raised an additional £115,700, bringing Scorched Earth’s total amount raised to £377,700.

These are now sold out, but you can find available prints on our Editions page.

Collecting ash, making paint


Coming from the region and having witnessed what happened to Yezidis through friends and media as well visiting the refugee camps near Duhok in 2018, the cause of this project resonated with my sense of rage, helplessness and the urge to help as an artist. My work increasingly considers the precarious relations between collective identity, interdependence and its constraints on the individual through considerations of heritage, tradition, homes, borders, mobility and migration in general so with this project I’m combining many of these themes within this new work titled ‘Trials’"

Walid Siti