Art and social consciousness

As the Hayward Gallery opens its doors to the first ever survey of Jeremy Deller’s socially conscious work, British homelessness charity Shelter are echoing this notion of the relationship between art and social responsibility with the launch of their new exhibition, Up My Street. While Deller’s work has persistently evaded classification, primarily existing as it does in the form of the artist’s own direct engagement with British communities – essentially extracting the art that dwells unwittingly in everyday life – his significant exhibition, ‘Joy In People’, is a timely reminder of the power of artistic intervention in societal issues.

It is hardly comparable, as Shelter’s venture takes place in the more traditional form of an auctioning of works donated by a plethora of celebrated contemporary artists; yet its message is redolent, and past experience has shown that the element of celebrity is undoubtedly an effective means of stirring society into action. With the support of sponsor British Land and a line-up of participants that reads in part like a ‘who’s who’ of the artworld, including Jake and Dinos Chapman, Grayson Perry, Antony Gormley and Gavin Turk, the event has been organised to not only raise funds for the charity, but to increase awareness about the issues of homelessness and housing crises that affect people across Britain every two minutes.

Alongside the work of the aforementioned artists, amongst others, will be that of sublime fashion photographer Tim Walker, illustrator Jon Burgerman and the legendary designer Peter Saville, as well as a piece from renowned East London street artist Ben Eine. There is even an architect thrown in for good measure, with an offering from Amanda Levete Architects. Each were asked to contribute work that has been inspired by a street with particular personal significance, which has resulted in a vast, seemingly arbitrary curatorial grouping of photography, fine art, fashion, graphic design and illustration.

Participating artist Patrick Hughes says: “Shelter is a charity that is close to my heart. Having a roof over your head is something we should all be able to take for granted, and most of us do. However, not everyone has a place they can call their own. I hope this exhibition will make people think about the importance of a home and raise awareness of Shelter’s work.”

All artwork will be auctioned in aid of Shelter. The online gallery is viewable from today, enabling people to bid from anywhere in the world, and the exhibition will be on physical display at the Coningsby Gallery, London from 5-8 March.

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