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Art for Human Rights

Raising awareness of human rights and violation of those rights is an essential part of Amnesty International’s work, and visual art is a powerful way to achieve this. This is why the local Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Amnesty Group is offering anyone an opportunity to show their support for the work of Amnesty by entering their artwork into an Open Exhibition, telling us what aspect of human rights has inspired them.
The exhibitions are to be held in Spring 2014. Read on to find out how you can take part.

Who can take part?

Participation is open to anyone above the age of 16 who works, lives or studies in Bournemouth, Poole or Christchurch and wishes to explore the theme of human rights in a visual way.

amnesty international art exhibition

photo by “catching.light” on

What are ‘human rights’?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with its 30 articles defining ‘fundamental freedoms’ and ‘human rights’, is binding on all members of the United Nations Organisation. Sadly, these principles are often honoured more in the breach than in the observance, and this why organisations like Amnesty International stand up for individuals wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied.

Since it was founded in 1961, Amnesty International has defended the right to free speech and fought against torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments, arbitrary imprisonment and the death penalty. It has run campaigns highlighting women’s human rights, the plight of political refugees and asylum seekers, the harm done by an unregulated arms trade, and many more.

Visit the AIUK site for Ongoing Campaigns; following us on Facebook will also be quite informative.

Amnesty International’s vision is…

…of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments. In pursuit of this vision, Amnesty International’s mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of these rights.

Statute of Amnesty International

Your contribution

Living our everyday lives in the UK, the vast majority of us probably don’t think much about human rights. But watch the news or read the newspaper and we are suddenly confronted with a multitude of instances of human rights’ abuses, from shooting protesters in the street to Internet censorship, from arbitrary arrest to a terrorist bomb in a market square. These are emotive issues that could lead to a range of artistic interpretations and responses.

But it is not just violations of human rights which we seek to highlight in our exhibitions. Positive images inspired by the universal rights to which we are all entitled as stated in the UN Declaration are equally welcome: the right to an education; the right to marry and raise a family; the right to peaceful assembly and association; even the right to rest and leisure! You are free to interpret these ideals in as creative a way as you like.

The subject matter, artistic medium and style are completely up to you. You can enter an existing piece of work or create a new one for this occasion. Indeed, to encourage artistic creativity amongst entries, we want to be as non-prescriptive as possible. Our only requirement is for you to indicate (either through the art itself, its title or, if an abstract piece, a brief statement) what aspect of human rights has inspired you.

Art works

We welcome 2D and 3D work ready for hanging or exhibition framed and mounted to exhibition standards if applicable. Hanging methods will be confirmed after selection.

The choice of medium is yours: ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, crafts, photography… If you prefer to express yourself through an electronic medium (installation, film or animation), please contact us.

We don’t impose minimum or maximum dimensions, but remember that the works might be displayed in fairly small exhibition spaces, so keep the size in proportion.


We will display the selected works in several venues across the area. We now have definite bookings with Christchurch Priory and the Red House Museum in Christchurch; Bournemouth Central Library and St Peter’s Church in Bournemouth; Metropolis Art Gallery in Westbourne. See note about Poole Lighthouse at the bottom of the page.

How to enter

First email via our contact page as soon as you can to get a registration form. You are welcome to submit work in more than one medium.

The deadline for submission is the end of December 2013, but please submit earlier if you can. All we need by that date is two or three photos of your completed work – preferably sent to us digitally. Photographs can be any size but no smaller than 1000 pixels on the longest side (if this makes no sense please contact us!).

When you submit your work, we would like you to tell us in a few words what aspect of human rights has inspired you.

Selection and presentation

We will be working with local artists and curators to select the most evocative works and we will let all entrants know whether they have been successful or not by March 2014.

If we select your work for display, we will contact you to discuss delivery as well as collection once the exhibition is over. The exhibitions will take place during the period March 8th – April 5th 2014.

If we do not choose to display your work, we might still feature it on our web gallery.

All selected work must be delivered ready to display or hang. Please tell us in your submission email if your work requires unusual hanging methods and what its dimensions are likely to be.

Selling your work

These exhibitions are NOT fundraising events. We are not looking for donations, either in kind (e.g. artwork) or in money. Our aim is simply to raise awareness of human rights generally and the work of Amnesty International in particular.

On the other hand, you are free to put a price on your work. One of our venues, a commercial gallery, will take a 50% commission on all sales. In all the other cases, if you sell your work as a result of exhibiting with us, we will ask for a 20% commission, which we will share with those venues that make their premises available to us without charge.


You will retain ownership of any work that you entrust to us. However, we ask you to let us take photographs of it and let the public and the press photograph and publish pictures of it for the duration of the actual displays and the lifetime of the website gallery.


We hold Public Liability insurance. We will discuss with you the value you put on your work ahead of taking delivery, in case it is damaged while in our care.

Poole Lighthouse

At this venue we are now planning a separate, Autumn 2014, photographic exhibition with a slightly different focus (pun intended!). Watch this space for more details.


If looking for ideas, you may find this document on the Amnesty website interesting. Aimed at schools, it looks at ways of translating human rights into visual art…