The Power of Art

As Frieze Art Fair descends upon London, a special charity art auction in Bristol is raising money for garment workers around the world:

A celebration of art will take place across the UK this weekend, with the legendary Frieze Art Fair returning to London’s Regents Park and bringing with it a series of talks, events and exhibitions of contemporary art works from 160 galleries around the world. 

Also taking place this weekend is a charity art auction hosted by UK campaign group Labour Behind the Label. The auction, which takes place in Bristol this Saturday 6th October, will raise vital funds for garment industry workers.

Five years after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh – one of the worst ever industrial accidents and the world’s worst garment factory disaster – Labour Behind the Label (LBL) continues to campaign for labour rights in the global garment industry. More than 40 artists from around the world, including printmakers, painters and graffiti artists to jewellery makers and upcyclers, have submitted works for the auction – all of which are now available to bid on online to raise money raise money for LBL’s campaign work for a fairer, more decent and transparent supply chain.   

Here are just a few of the incredible works available and the stories behind each piece:

‘Reshma Bonbibi Begum’ by Meghan Leslie (Lot 25)

“The Labour Behind the Label artist brief asked us as artists to think a lot about the links connecting worker/human rights, fast fashion and the environment,” said artist Meghan Leslie. “Unfortunately due to the terrible truths that lay in wait, this is not a pleasant topic to research. I wanted to take this brief and find hope. To create an image that would somehow be positive and inspire people to find out more about the region in which ready made garments make up 81% of the countries exports. The country’s survival seems unequivocally tied to RMG’s. 

“Sifting through the stories from Rana Plaza I was immediately drawn to Reshma Begum’s survival story and how she lived inside the Rana Plaza rubble for 17 days. Her story is a mythical one. This inspired me to find out more about the legends of the area. This brought me to the allegory of the Goddess Bonbibi and the Sundarbans. Tying all of these elements and ideas together is how Reshma Bonbibi Begum was born…reborn.”

You can bid online for lot 25 here

“Liberty Paisley” by Alke Schmidt (Lot 16 )

“My art practice is driven in equal measure by my love to create beautiful things and my passion for social justice,” said artist Alke Schmidt. “The pieces donated for the art auction are part of a large body of work that aims to raise awareness of the exploitation that occurs all to often in global fashion supply chains.  You can see more of this work in my “Wonder & Dread” exhibition at Bradford Industrial Museum – on until 4 November.  I think LBL’s campaigning work is vital to improve the conditions of the people who make our clothes, therefore I am delighted to support them through this art auction.”

You can bid online for Lot 16 and 17 by Alke Schmidt.


‘Swathed in Light’ by Huw Richard Evans (Lot 12)

“As an artist I’m moved by the power of light and dark and the hope that it brings,” said artist Huw Richard Evans. “As a designer/maker in the clothing industry I’m moved by those who genuinely care for their workforce and treat them with fairness, dignity and respect. This is why I wholeheartedly support LBL.”
You can bid online for Lot 12 and 13 by Huw Richard Evans.

‘Mumbai’ by Katrina Wilde (Lot 24)

I chose I donate work to LBL because I believe the work that they do is so important and necessary,” said artist Katrina Wilde. Following their campaigns and seeing their triumphs over the last few years has been incredible and I hope that with the donations from myself and other artists, it’ll help LBL to get funds to do more of what they’re doing. Sustainable and ethical fashion is something I feel so passionate about so to be able to help in whatever small way is really a privilege.”

You can bid online for lot 24 here.

‘Mountain Gem’ by Aspire (Lot 28)

“I have painted the purple-throated mountain gem hummingbird, although quite obviously not purple in this case as this is the female of the species. I chose to depict this bird as I feel her work load of 12-80 wing beats per second is a great metaphor for the struggle and hard work that faces a majority of workers around the world, who work long and painstaking hours just to survive and try to meet their most basic of basic needs.”

You can bid online for this item here


‘Bristol Suspension Bridge’ by Annie Clay (Lot 26)

“I work in textile design and am very conscious of the impact the retail industry has on it’s labourer’s and the environment,” artist Annie Clay said. “I donated a piece of artwork that I feel represents Bristol’s vibrancy and positive energy and was a suitable piece for Labour Behind the Label’s fundraising auction. I hope it celebrates the cause and raises a smile on the buyer’s face! It’s so important we are all aware of the processes involved in what we so easily purchase and wear.”

You can bid online for lot 26 here