Questions for Simon Butler and Chris Twiney | Limna

Questions for Simon Butler and Chris Twiney

This week we caught up with Migrate Art’s founder Simon Butler and Creative Director Chris Twiney to ask them a few questions about their project, their inspirations, and how their work is helping displaced and homeless communities all over the world…

How did you get started doing what you do?

We started Migrate Art in 2016 from a desire to help those affected by the global migrant crisis using our years of experience working in the contemporary art world. As we all know, there is a lot of wealth in the art world, and we wanted to try and re-direct some of that money to try and help people that were facing extremely difficult times. We have now raised over £950,000 and helped thousands of people across three continents.

1. MigrateArt.RaisingForMyanmar.3.jpg “Raising for Myanmar” exhibition at The Koppel Project, London, 2021

What’s something you wish you knew when you first started in the art world?

Be patient. We are programmed to expect things to happen really quickly, and we feel like failures when they don’t. We have known some of the artists that we collaborate with for over five years, and it is these longer relationships, and staying dedicated to our cause instead of following what is on-trend that has been one of the keys to our success.

What’s the first artwork you ever bought?

We don’t buy artworks as such. The first artist we collaborated with was Julian Opie in 2016 when we sold a large work of his, titled ‘Bobby and Natalie.1’, through Christie’s to raise money for grassroots charities on the front line of the refugee crisis.

2. Julian Opie.png Julian Opie, “Bobby and Natalie. 1.”, 2016, Vinyl on wooden stretcher

What’s the most misunderstood aspect of the art market in your opinion?

The art market is driven by money but artists aren’t just making luxury goods for the rich. Instead, artists have the capacity to inspire, shock, enrage, enrich and educate our society.

Which artist are you currently really excited about?

Richie Htet: he is a young Burmese artist who we worked with, in 2021. His artistic voice is completely unique, a mix of his varied cultural heritage, and experiences as a queer artist in a very conservative society. We started working with Richie when he was still living in Yangon, during Myanmar’s military coup, and he has since relocated to Paris to escape the new dictatorship. We were privileged to go and visit Richie at his new studio in Paris a couple of months ago and met face to face for the first time which was a very special experience.

3. Richie Htet, Bitch Better Have My Democracy, 2021.jpg Richie Htet, Bitch Better Have My Democracy, 2021, inkjet print on matte poster paper

What’s the last art-related Instagram post you liked or an account you followed?

We are big fans of! Charlie that started Purslane used to work with us at Migrate Art, but has gone on to follow her own creative vision with Purslane, and is doing an amazing job.

What upcoming exhibitions are you looking forward to?

Mona Hatoum’s work will be exhibited concurrently in the spring of 2022 in two of Stockholm’s institutions: Accelerator at Stockholm University and Magasin III, the Museum for Contemporary Art in Frihamnen. We are also releasing a limited edition print with her soon, which we are really excited about as we are huge fans of her work.

4. Mona Hatoum.jfif Mona Hatoum, “Twelve Windows”, 2012-2013, 12 Palestinian embroideries on fabric, wooden clothes pegs, steel cable. Courtesy of the artist and Alexander and Bonin, New York © Photo Courtesy Alexander and Bonin, New York, photo by Joerg Lohse

Tell us about an artist who should be getting more attention.

Piers Secunda. We have known Piers for many years and we are always excited to see what he has been up to in the studio. He is an artist that totally immerses himself in his subject, and has impressive knowledge. We also have a beautiful limited edition etching being released with him in 2022.

5. ISIS Bullet Hole Painting (Assyrian Archer), Triptych, 2018.jpgISIS Bullet Hole Painting (Assyrian Archer), Triptych, 2018, Industrial floor paint

What’s the best piece of art-world advice you’ve ever been given?

‘People buy paintings with their ears, not their eyes.’ Too many people fall into the trap of buying art because they are told that it will be a good investment. We encourage people to buy artworks because they love looking at them, and connecting with the subject matter!

How do your clients gain confidence when buying art?

Our clients gain confidence because not only are they buying a work of art they love but also because they have the added bonus of raising money for our charity partners and helping displaced and homeless communities all over the world.