Children on death row, institutionalised child sexual abuse and denial of basic civil and political rights are not cute issues. So why should children’s rights art be cute?
This is the question asked by a new exhibition at the Southbank Centre put together by London-based human rights NGO Child Rights International Network (CRIN) with the artist Miriam Sugranyes.
Rights, Not Charity is part of ‘WHY? What's Happening for the Young’, a project marking the 25th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a landmark international treaty which sets out minimum human rights standards for every person under the age of 18.
Sugranyes’ work uses different mediums to challenge the viewer to think differently about children and their place in society. Using a range of everyday objects, the artist has illustrated each of the different issues brought up by the Convention, from education and family, to poverty and warfare.
Veronica Yates, Director of Child Rights International Network, explains that her organisation is fed up of the conventional ways in which children are depicted by charities.
"We are tired of seeing ‘charitable’ images of smiling and starving children. These images do nothing to advance children’s rights, and instead merely evoke a sense of pity and charity without confronting why children are suffering all over the world,” she says.
“Like adults, children have all their human rights, and not because they are ‘the future’ or the ‘adults of tomorrow’ but because they are human beings today."
Sugranyes says of her work: “I suggest a language that comes from the visual poetry to respond to CRIN’s needs was to achieve the metalanguage that Surrealists and Dadaists also showed us during the last century. As a method to open the mind of the audience, this metalanguage carries us to a new interpretation and meaning of the actual image that is being observed. Metaphor, then, has been the main conductor during the process of creation of this group of images.”
‘Rights Not Charity’ is part of ‘WHY?’ which runs at the Southbank Centre from Thursday 23rd October 2014 to Sunday 26th October 2014
Click here to see more of Miriam Sugranyes' work
The exhibition is in the process of the WHY? festival organised by the Southbank Centre to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
For more information about this event, see our Facebook page.