9 Sep 2009


 A couple of weeks ago got a call to pitch an idea for a charity campaign. On the 16th October, ActionAid were going to launch HungerFREE and needed an image to spearhead the campaign. They fired reams of facts and figures at me. Their goals and intentions were achievable and irrefutable. The challenge to communicate the severity of the crisis whilst satisfy the requirements of the many involved and associated parties was daunting.
 An image of hands holding a bowl containing chains of manacles in place of food, was chosen from the 14 ideas I put forward. A bowl of handcuffs, sounds simple enough, all I had to do was paint them, link them together and shoot 'em. Add a bit of digital alchemy, hammer home their slogan 'Free the Hungry Billion' in bold type and I'm done.
 The receptionist at the novelties suppliers thought she had taken a hoax call when I ordered a hundred pairs of cuffs. When they arrived I linked them together and piled them up only to find they lacked any impact. So I called back the suppliers. "I need more, another two hundred pairs should do it." She had trouble keeping her composure over the howls of incredulity coming from her colleagues in the back.

 Next stage; prime three hundred pairs of handcuffs in white, then spray them yellow. A colleague at ImagineArt (art-therapy service) kindly offered me the use of their recently acquired studio to make my mess in. For four days I joined the chain gang, sweeping up and down the lines of manacles with Roots Manuva's 'Witness' on repeat.

 My solvent trance was broken on day 2 when a seƱorita appeared through the mirage. She was a dancer looking for rehearsal space. Her smarting eyes squinted over a respirator made from a Hermes scarf. Through the manacle barrier she inquired “Do you know that in Spanish the word for handcuffs and wives are the same?” Before I had time to digest this paradox she blurted: "You must come and see my collection of handcuffs!" Did she mean her "harem" was my inappropriate repartee. She evaporated - a chagrined chica.