Women of the World: The Artist & Tsunami Fundraiser
Written by Jaillan Yehia
After hearing about the suffering of students in her native Japan following last year’s disaster, Kaori Homma decided she had to do something to help. She gathered together fellow artists from the University of Arts London where she is a lecturer, and started putting together an art auction with a difference – here she explains why she felt she had to act…
If I’m completely honest I’m torn apart between wanting to reassure people that Japan is now safe to visit yet I also need to be clear about the issues that still exist after last year’s nuclear and humanitarian disaster. One year and media coverage in the UK has emphasised the stoic nature of the victims and the financial and logistical capability of the Japanese government but unfortunately the reality is rather far from these portrayals – 260,000 people are still living in temporary emergency accommodation, and the number of people committing suicide is sky rocketing and predicted to reach 50,000 by the end of this year, and we’re yet to find out the long-term effect of radiation exposure on the younger population.
One of the most disheartening experiences during the disaster was for local people to see so many foreign nationals fleeing – leaving behind just those who had no choice but to stay. Even though I am lucky enough to live and work in London, my family and many of my friends live in the Tohoku area of Japan and of course I’ve kept in close touch with them and with my old tutor at Tokyo University of the Arts to find out how his students have been coping.
My contact with those back home has made me determined to do something for students who’ve lost their family and their homes in the disaster and whose work is suffering as they deal with personal loss, high levels of radiation and aftershocks. So with a group of fellow artists from the University of Art London, both Central Saint Martins and Chelsea, Camberwell and Wimbledon where I’m an associate lecturer, I’ve tried to find a way to help, within our limited means.
We came up with the idea of a Silent Art Auction, which is being held at Flat Planet on March 21st. The funds raised will go towards providing a respite for young Japanese artists directly affected by the disaster – by the summer we’re aiming to establish a residency in London to give these students a place to come and work, free from their problems back home in Japan.
The average person can pop in and bid, as some artwork and signed art books start from as little as £10-15 and there are other things you can buy for a fixed price, like signed giclée prints, cards, badges, and hand-made bags ranging from £3 upwards.
Obviously bidding may reveal that some works will fetch higher prices, as the pieces are all donated by contemporary professional artists some of whom are already very well established, but we are not Sotheby’s, so I don’t expect millions of pounds to be coughed up at this event but who knows, some of the art works might fetch that sort of price in future!
The auction takes Place at Flat Planet on 21st March from 5pm with a pre-viewing from 10am-4pm.
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