Photographer Mark Sherratt is behind Prints for Refugees, a project showcasing and selling art donated by photographers to support the work of Doctors of the World so that they can continue to provide medical aid to vulnerable refugees. We chatted with Mark about how the project started, the photographers involved and his future plans.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us about what made you start Prints for Refugees?
I’m Mark Sherratt, I’m a freelance advertising and editorial photographer, I live in London with my wife Hayley and my one month old son Sydney. I initially started Prints for Refugees a couple of years ago during the time that the refugee crisis was in the news much more. After seeing some terrible news stories I felt like I wanted to try to do something to help if I could. I remember sitting at home one Sunday morning reading some things in the paper and this idea popped into my heard. I then emailed a few photographer friends to see if it’s something they would be interested in getting involved in and got a very positive reaction so it all grew from there. Since then we have sold over £20,000 worth of prints from lots of different photographers with all the money going directly to Doctors of the World who are doing amazing work with refugees both in the UK and across Europe.
I feel like the news cycles have moved on since I first started this project and their isn’t the same public outcry about it all, which is understandable. But unfortunately, the situation for many people is just as desperate and the help is still greatly needed. That’s why I felt like I wanted to reinvigorate the project and once again the response from photographers has been fantastic, with people readily agreeing to donate prints.
Mark Sherratt portrait
Why did you decide to focus on photographers and not other type of artists? What was the general response when approached about the project?
I decided to to focus on photography simply because I am a photographer and a part of that world. I know lots of great photographers either personally or know of their work so it was easy to decide who to contact about possible print donations. I can also feel confident that we can offer some really great art works from interesting artists that will be a good investment for the buyer.
Having said that, I would love to be able to start something similar for other types of artists. But I feel I would need to work with someone who knows that world better than I do. I am actually in very early talks with someone about this, but we will see how things go.
I’ve had a wonderful response from photographers. It’s been great how excited people have been about the project and how happy they have been to get involved and offer their work and their time for free. I have also had plenty of other photographers contact me after hearing about the project, offering to donate work. Unfortunately, we can’t always accept everything that’s offered but it’s great that people are so willing to donate. The whole project has restored my faith in humanity.
Print by David Ryle
Please tell us about a little about some of the photographers involved and the prints they’ve contributed to the project.
We have some fantastic photographers involved in the project. All of them have been specifically chosen as I believe they do really interesting and innovative work. I’m happy to say we have a good variety of photographers on the site, from new up and coming talent to much more established artists.
It’s hard to single anyone out as I love all the work we have, but it’s certainly worth checking out the prints we have by Will Hartley who is fairly young photographer, but making some big waves at the moment. He’s doing some great work and I think it’s a good opportunity to pick up a print by him. We also have work by Peter Dench who is a big name in UK photography, his work has been exhibited all over the place and has made a number of books. I love the humour in his photographs and am pleased that he has decided to donate to us.
Print by Samuel Hicks
Can you tell us more about Doctors of the World and their work?
Doctors of the World are a fantastic charity. They are working both in the UK and abroad to empower excluded people to access healthcare. They have a clinic in London that allows undocumented migrants and refugees to see a doctor, they also offer advocacy work to help defend migrants rights to health access in Britain.
They are working in the refugee camps in Greece providing much needed psychological help to desperate people who have lost their homes and at the moment seem pretty much abandoned by the rest of the world! They are also working in Bulgaria with unaccompanied child refugees who are often the victims of forced labour or sexual exploitation, providing translators, social workers, medical kits and warm clothing. Also, in Ukraine they are woking on both sides of the conflict providing much needed primary medical care to villages near the contact line.
Print by Andrew Urwin
How do you see Prints for Refugees evolving? Do you have any plans for the upcoming months?
I’m really excited about the plans we have for Prints for Refugees. Of course, we have some really great new photographers lined up to release some prints, which is going to happen before Christmas, so make sure you save some Christmas present money! But we have lots of other plans too. I want to make Prints for Refugees a hub for interesting innovative photography. So it’s not only a place where you can buy an amazing piece of art for your wall, but it’s also somewhere you can come to see what new in UK photography. There are various ways I want to do this, including interviews with photographers, social media takeovers, guest curators etc etc. All this work is done in mine and my fellow PFR worker Nick’s spare time though, so we will see how we get on!
One other thing I do want to mention though is that we are going to be offering some secret prints that only people on subscribed to our newsletter will be able to access. So make sure you sign up! You can do that here – www.printsforrefugees.com/contact