ASHA team at Mobius Awards presentation: (standing, from left) Lee Gluckman Jr. (Chairman, Mobius Awards), Mike Horne (Managing Director), Chris Greenwood (Senior Designer), Scott McGuffie (Deputy Creative Director), Simon Dryland (Design Director), Anne Beech (Finance Manager); (kneeling, from left) Charlotte Jones (Studio Assistant), Hannah Mapleston (Account Manager), Marksteen Adamson (Senior Creative Consultant)
Refugee initiative began with one startling image
The poignant scene of two drowned toddlers lying on a Turkish beach triggered a visceral response in Marksteen Adamson, founder of ASHA and one of its creative directors. The refugees were trying to reach a Greek island when their boat capsized in September 2015.
“I needed to do something. . .I saw those two toddlers who drowned. That was a wakeup call for me. I could sit and watch the news every evening, or I could do something about it. So, I’m not a doctor, or a politician; I could use the skills that I have,” Adamson said in a March 2017 interview with Lee Gluckman of Mobius Awards.
Adamson’s response resulted in “The Stations – Response Pack” an informational campaign in the United Kingdom that brought attention to the plight of refugees and aimed to encourage understanding within the UK of the conditions refugees lived under.
ASHA (ArthurSteenHorneAdamson) staff in Cheltenham developed the project in partnership with Brand consultant Louise Dawson; Justin Brierley, a Christian Radio host and senior editor of Premier Christianity Magazine; filmmaker Oly Ralfe of Whitewall Films; journalist Julie Tomlin, and Krish Kandiah, founder of Home for Good, a London charity that has found homes for more than 3,000 refugee children.
“The impact was a joint impact with other agencies like Save the Children and Home for Good,” said Adamson. It was also a labor of love for Adamson. Some of his concern for what the refugees faced in relocation came out of Adamson’s own childhood. He grew up in Africa and attended a Swedish mission school until age 12. His family then moved to Denmark. When he arrived in the UK at age 16, he couldn’t speak the language. English was his fourth language.
“The Stations – Response Pack” won Best of Show in Direct and a Second Place Certificate for Outstanding Creativity in Brand Identity in the 2016 Mobius Awards. The project traces the emotional journey of refugees, represented by the traditional 14 ‘Stations of the Cross,’ drawing on the experiences and stories of refugees. Adamson traveled to refugee camps in Calais, France and Lebanon to collect stories of refugees from Africa and the Middle East, who had hoped to get to England.
“I wanted to present the stories as they were, but seen through my own lens, which is always subjective and does have has a point of view, regardless of how you do it. Nevertheless, it would give me a good chance to just listen to what some of those stories were and present them in a way that would then engage to a point where we could use them for advocacy.”
While there are many issues surrounding refugees coming into the UK, Adamson saw the overwhelming issue as “what do you do with three-and-a-half-thousand children when they come into the UK? They need a home; they need fostering or they need adopting. For me, the main goal of the project was to engage with the largest community in the UK that fosters adults.
He had only a few months to get the stories ready in order to present an exhibit at a festival sponsored by Home for Good that would draw many agencies that worked at finding homes for vulnerable children.
The Response Pack, which can be purchased, includes a newspaper featuring the 42 images from the exhibition, the 14 Stations postcard set, a Journey Together wrist band, and a limited edition print signed by the artist, Adamson. Proceeds go to Home for Good.
“I wasn’t interested in the drama; there were lots of images of people being thrown over fences, people floating the water. I was interested in actual stories,” Adamson said. It was not a commercial project, but an editorial in which ASHA invested money.
Six of the people featured in the project now live in the UK, two of them children. You can find more details and photos about the project, which also won a First Place Mobius Award and a Certificate, at http://thestations.org.uk and http://thestations.org.uk/response-pack/.