Students create work for Refuge auction

BBH and Christie’s are hosting an auction this Thursday to raise money for Christie’s: amazing artworks from artists including Anthony Burrill, Morag Myerscough, David Shillinglaw and Hattie Stewart will all be on offer. Two students were also invited to create artworks for the project: we spoke to them about the experience and their work.

The Refuge auction is the brainchild of BBH London’s production director Aine Donovan and deputy ECD Caroline Pay. Alongside the big name artists that are part of the project, the duo were keen to feature some work from the next generation of talent too. Enter Theresa Bates, above left, an illustration student at UWE in Bristol, and Hilma Sassa, right, a graphic and media design student at the London College of Communication.

Bates’ artwork, which she created live in the Protein gallery in London last week (an exhibition of all the works that will be auctioned, alongside a series of limited edition prints, was on show at the gallery last weekend), features a series of brightly coloured banners with the words ‘good’, ‘cool’ and ‘play’ on. This piece will be auctioned on Thursday evening at Christie’s.

Artwork by Theresa Bates
Artwork by Theresa Bates
Artwork by Theresa Bates
Artwork by Theresa Bates

“I was really inspired by the charity itself, the idea started with exploring the strength of bond between mother and child,” says Bates about the work. “I wanted to express and celebrate the unconditional love and courage.

“The reason I chose to present this project in textiles was to use a craft that is traditionally recognised as a feminine technique,” she continues. “The materials are all very soft and tactile, such as felts and towels, and rather comforting in texture. The work also has a childlike quality to it, as I have by using primary colours as the main colour palette.

“The banners were made to feel domestic, with a nod to traditional English bunting. I chose the shape to be crest-like as I wanted to portray bravery and a sense of family. The words came from colloquial language that appeals to children, ‘cool’ ‘good’ and ‘play’ are all positive words and I wanted to build a platform for them where they would become unavoidable in the room.”

Artwork by Hilma Sassa
Artwork by Hilma Sassa

Sassa’s artwork for the project is a limited edition print, which was sold at Protein last weekend and is now on sale via the website They Made This (created by Aine Donovan). Her print features a simple but powerful statement: She Is Us.

“My idea came from the fact that I wanted people to relate to the victims that the Refuge Charity works with, which mainly focuses on women and children,” Sassa explains. “Since I enjoy typography and quotes, as sometimes quotes can really relate or speak to you, I wanted to use words that would touch people and make them think. For that I had to find words that touched me and made me relate to the victims – as I am a woman too – but would also remind everyone that there is always a woman in their life.”

Artwork left by Theresa Bates, a student at the University of the West of England; Right: Prints on sale at Protein, including 'She Is Us' print by Hilma Sassa, a student at LCC
Bates and Sassa’s works on show at Protein gallery

The Refuge auction will take place at Christie’s South Kensington on Thursday (March 10) – our full post on all the artworks featured is here. To register interest in attending, email

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