Ash To Art

By J. Walter Thompson, London, UK

For Glasgow School of Art

Crème de la Crème in category Public Relations

In subcategory Corporate and Public Affairs

Project Description
By taking worthless ash and turning it into 25 priceless works of art, we transformed the fortunes of a world-famous institution.
We harnessed world-renowned talent, created an exhibition at Christie’s (the biggest auction house in the world), and staged an auction that raised £706,438 for one of the most iconic art institutions in the UK.
Our idea of reincarnating the fire-damaged Glasgow School of Art as art, struck a chord with the media, enabling us to forge relationships with the national press and with some of the most respected journalists in contemporary art.
Publicity for the auction cascaded through the arts world, launching with a double page exclusive in The Sunday Times. In total, the story reached 42% of the UK population.
Our exhibition became hot news. Over 10,000 people viewed our collection at Christie’s and the auction attracted bidders from 28 countries across the world.
Agency Solution
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.
Please rotate your device
to portrait orientation