‘It’s not a political statement’: why Publicis is celebrating immigration through artwork

Visit Publicis’ London office on Baker Street throughout August and you’ll find yourself in the midst of an art gallery curated to celebrate the creative lifeblood that immigrants – and the children of immigrants – bring to British culture. However the show should not be read as a political statement, according to the agency’s chief executive.

Entitled There’s a Good Immigrant, the exhibition exclusively features artists who are migrants or second-generation migrants, or who create work that encourages reflections on migration. Despite the political world’s current interest in the matter of crossing borders, Publicis London’s chief executive Nick Farnhill said he doesn’t believe the show is “making any political statement”.

“Publicis [wanted] to host this simply because we’re part of the creative industry,” he told The Drum. “The creative industry in the UK is an economy that’s growing at an incredible rate, but there simply isn’t enough talent to go around and support the work that we need to do.

“We have to go overseas and understand how to bring brilliant people into this country and work with them to realise what we want to do, but importantly to give them the opportunity to realise what they want to do.”

The exhibition was conceived by Publicis London’s creative director Jo Wallace and developed in collaboration with curator Erin Manns and arts communication consultant Helena Zedig. It features work across paintings, photography, sculpture and collage, as well spoken word and a virtual reality experience developed for the BBC by Aardman.

“I really wanted to celebrate that immigration and diversity bring so much positivity, yet in the media we see so much negativity around it,” said Wallace. “So I really wanted to do a show that wasn’t all doom and gloom – I wanted to do a show that was positive about migration.

“I hope that people have a chance to really appreciate the diverse perspectives and the amazing pieces of work that we are able to see due to migration.”