As a creator, Publicis UK creative director, Jo Wallace, understands that a thriving culture depends on a wide range of ideas. All sorts of ideas by all sorts of people.
In 2014, she was the spearhead of There’s a Good Girl, a creative exhibition that showed off what women bring to culture, by VivaWomen!, the global Publicis Groupe volunteer project that promotes women in advertising. Its timing was perfect. In 2014, women were just beginning to realise they had to stand up for themselves to ever achieve anything close to equality and men were just beginning to realise that they would have to allow it to happen – if not be seen to actively support it.
Now, Wallace is the spearhead of Publicis UK’s, There’s a Good Immigrant. Its timing is perfect. “Difference” has never been easy in the UK – or any society. Right now, it’s one of the hottest potatoes there, and everywhere, in the world.
There’s a Good Immigrant is a celebration of what migrants bring to the UK culture – an exhibition of artistic projects created and curated by Wallace in collaboration with curator, Erin Manns, and arts communications consultant, Helena Zedig, and hosted by Publicis at its home, 82 Baker Street, London, from August 17 to September 1.
Every piece of work on show has been created by an artist who is a migrant, a second-generation migrant, or whose work encourages reflections on migration – Ildikó Buckley & Jane Palmer, Dave Buonaguidi, Suchi Chidambaram, Inua Ellams, Alison Jackson, Hormazd Narielwalla, Keith Piper, Sara Pope, Jaspreet Sangha, Sara Shamsavari, Bob & Roberta Smith and Abbas Zahedi.
The show will feature an array of artistic media, from painting, photography, sculpture and collage, to spoken word and a virtual reality animation by Aardman.
Wallace explained, “We’re a creative business whose ultimate aim is to engage the public, yet, there’s no denying that advertising often fails to resonate with the diverse group of consumers we seek to speak to. The UK has a wonderfully rich cultural heritage, resulting from generations of different communities coming together, enriching society and inspiring new entrepreneurial visions. We need to reflect this melting pot of talent, with diverse voices, skin tones and perspectives in ads and that starts with welcoming greater diversity into agencies and marketing departments. With There’s a Good Immigrant, we aim to not only inspire clients and creatives from all backgrounds but also to provoke positive debate within the wider industry and beyond.”
Highlight works on display include:
- Immigration Is A Good Thing For British Culture by Bob and Roberta Smith, known for his awareness-raising protest art in the form of placard paintings
- A photographic series by Sara Shamsavari, that explores global identities amidst division and conflict
Sara Shamsavari, Kanwar, 2016. Part of Shamsavari’s series Dastaar – Fitting in and Standing Out photo print. © Sara Shamsavari
- A provocative look-alike photograph by Alison Jackson showing Donald Trump posing for a picture with members of the Ku Klux Klan
Alison Jackson, KKK Sel e, 2016, photography, print © Alison Jackson
- A limited edition silk screen print, Reviewing the future in broken English, by Keith Piper, founder member of the BLK Art Group, the groundbreaking association of black British artists formed in the 1980s
- Hormazd Narielwalla’s Lost Gardens collage series, the artist’s response to Brexit as a recent migrant
- Lost and Found: Seven Sisters by Abbas Zahedi, one of the artists currently exhibiting as part of the Diaspora Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale
- A recording of internationally touring poet Inua Ellams’ Private School, an act of remembrance showing the repercussions of the transatlantic slave trade
- Aardman & BBC’s virtual reality experience, We Wait, which gives users a visceral understanding of what it’s like to be on board a smugglers boat as a migrant.
Artist Bob and Roberta Smith, commented, “Art is necessarily an international language. Immigration to Britain has made Britain an amazing culture, stronger with depth of appreciation of others woven into it. We are not an ignorant or naive monoculture, we are a polyphonic multi-faceted super abundant multiculture.”
Dave Monk, executive creative director, Publicis London, added, “Diversity of thought, culture, and experiences is a necessity for all creative industries. Experiencing art and ideas from people whose reference points and voices are different and varied is something that we’re absolutely committed to at Publicis London, and across the group. We absolutely believe that embracing thinking from everywhere will inevitably make us all creatively richer. This exhibition is a marvellous initiative by Jo, and the first of many to be held at 82 Baker Street.”
Funds raised through the sale of works at the exhibition will be donated to arts charity, Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts), whose aim is to highlight and support artistic work that reflects on the social and political impact of globalisation.
Keith Piper, Reviewing the future in broken English, 2016, silk print, © Keith Piper
View all artists here: THERE’S A GOOD IMMIGRANT
Viewings are by appointment only.
Jo Wallace: Creative Director, Publicis UK
Helena Zedig: Director, Pickles PR
Erin Manns: Curator
Natalie Melder-Smith: PR Director, Publicis UK
Camilla Byles &Vincent Abel: Culture, Publicis UK
Florencia Azcune: Communications Co-ordinator, Pickles PR
Cover images l-r: Abbas Zahedi, Lost and Found, 2011, photography, digital c-type print © Abbas Zahedi, Bob & Roberta Smith, Immigration is a good thing for British culture, 2015 oil on wood, © Bob & Roberta Smith & Sara Shamsavari, Samson Saboye, 2014, part of Shantrelle P Lewis; ‘ e Dandy Lion Project’ photo print. © Sara Shamsavari