Grayson Perry, Aida Muluneh, Russell Tovey and Jean Jullien invite artists to join campaign for water for all

Artists Grayson Perry and Jean Jullien, photographer Aida Muluneh, and actor Russell Tovey are rallying support for WaterAid’s new campaign, Art of Change, which calls for clean water and hygiene for everyone everywhere.

Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of diseases like coronavirus, yet three billion people worldwide have nowhere to wash their hands with soap and clean water at home, and one in four health centres lack these basic facilities on site, putting lives at risk.

WaterAid is inviting artists to help address this injustice by using their creative skills as a force for good, producing inspiring and thought-provoking work linked to the theme of water and health to drive change and help transform lives.

Amateur and professional artists can enter, and have until 27 July to submit their work, which will be put before the all-star panel, including Perry, Muluneh, Tovey and Jullien, who will shortlist their top 12. The public will then get to vote on their favourite.

The winning piece of artwork will be announced on Global Handwashing Day (15 October) and presented to world leaders as a bold statement ahead of the G20, urging them to double their investment in water and hygiene in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Winner of the 2003 Turner Prize, Grayson Perry, who has been keeping the public entertained during lockdown with his Art Club series, is one of the judges.

Grayson Perry CBE RA said:

“Art is a powerful tool for expressing what’s going on in the world and identifying what really matters, especially during the turbulent times we currently find ourselves in.  

“WaterAid’s campaign is a great way for artists from around the world to unite and use their creative skills to highlight the importance of everyone having the basics of clean water and hygiene and the vast inequalities that exist as we tackle a shared crisis.  

“I’m looking forward to seeing the different ways people will interpret and portray this important issue and the impact the it will have. Together, we can call on governments to take action that will help transform lives for good.” 

Photographer and contemporary artist Aida Muluneh, whose work is on permanent exhibition at New York’s MOMA gallery and the Smithsonian Institute, also joins the campaign as a judge, having previously worked with WaterAid on a ‘Water Life’ project, which highlighted the impact of the water crisis on women

Aida Muluneh. Art of Change judge.
WaterAid/ Neil Wissink
Aida Muluneh, Art of Change judge.

Aida Muluneh said:

“Creativity and art are powerful forces for change in the world. As a photographer working in Ethiopia, my vision has been to create art that courageously challenges clichés and portrays the strength, beauty and heritage of Africa and its women. 

“Clean water and good hygiene are vital in preventing the spread of deadly diseases like coronavirus, yet millions of people are living without these basics. Together, we can call on governments to take urgent action to address this injustice.

“I’m excited to be working with WaterAid on this initiative that offers artists the chance to create a unique piece of work that advocates for global change and helps transform lives across the world.” 

Best known for starring in the BBC/HBO drama Years and Years, London-based actor, art collector and Talk Art podcast host Russell Tovey said: 

“Contemporary art is my passion; it’s a beautiful way to share an experience, break boundaries, create connections, and inspire change. That’s why I’m really proud to be working with WaterAid on its Art of Change campaign. It will bring together different stories from around the world that will be used to urge world leaders to take notice and make concrete actions that will transform lives.” 

International water and sanitation charity WaterAid is racing to reach vulnerable communities in 26 countries with much needed clean water and handwashing facilities as well vital hygiene education. WaterAid is calling for these basics to be prioritised on a global level as the pandemic continues to escalate.

Claire Seaward, Global Campaigns Director at WaterAid, said:

“Handwashing with soap is the first line of defence against the spread of diseases, but three billion people have nowhere to wash their hands at home.

“While the world rallies to get a vaccine, preventing the spread of infection has never been more important. Alongside much-needed investment in vaccines, we are calling for world leaders to double their investment in clean water and good hygiene to help communities protect themselves against the spread of Covid-19 and become more resilient to future health crises.

“Everyone can play a role in getting clean water and good hygiene to those most in need by adding to their voice to our campaign, either through creating artwork that can help drive change or by voting on their favourite and supporting our call for urgent action.”

Artists can help amplify WaterAid’s call for water and hygiene to be prioritised by joining Art of Change campaign. There is more information available at Entries must be submitted to by noon BST on 27 July 2020.

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