Edinburgh Artist Helps HungerFREE Campaign

Blog by Thomas Meek | 29 Sep 2009

23 million East Africans, across seven countries, are facing a state of severe hunger and destitution due to the area's ongoing drought, and little means to cope.

"This is the worst humanitarian crisis Oxfam has seen in east Africa for over ten years," said Paul Smith Lomas, Oxfam's East Africa Director.

And though some may now be numb to such humanitarian disaster in some far off place where the people don't even speak English, for the decent majority, it's a brutal reminder of just how big a problem world hunger is, with erratic climates devastating those people living in poverty.

Aiming to tackle the problem, and continue raising awareness of those affected millions is international development charity, ActionAid, whose HungerFREE campaign begins on October 16.

The date marks World Food Day, an annual event noting the formation of the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation. Its 2009 theme of "achieving food security in times of crisis" is particularly relevant with the current African crisis, as well as the recent flooding in the Philippines.

With HungerFREE though, ActionAid are looking beyond these acts of God, and at the wider humanitarian crisis in each corner of the developing world, brought on from poverty, debt, civil war and uncaring governments, that keeps one billion people hungry and with little hope for the future.

Aiming to symbolise such feelings, the charity has commissioned Edinburgh-based contemporary arts photographer, Gavin Evans, to create an image that reflects "the fact that hunger is imprisoning the world’s poor."

Unspecified female hands clasp a bowl, seemingly full of food, but in actuality contains only handcuffs. It's hunger imprisoning the world's poor.

And it's a valiant attempt from a photographer whose previous clients have included Bjork, Nick Cave and David Bowie to movie away from popular culture and focus his lens on one of mankind's greatest afflictions.

In his own words: “The campaign required an arresting image that conveyed the enormity of the challenge faced. The photograph needed to create impact that on closer inspection revealed arenother layer of meaning to provoke discussion, and consequently action. The mass of handcuffs represent not only the billions but also each individual, they bind the individual to the issue.”

The all too real images of bloated bellies and weak bodies that are starvation's physical effects are seeped into our consciousness, now lacking the impact they once had. Evans; take on the mental torment and helplessness of those without food is unique and hopeful of yet again waking the world up to one global problem that can be fixed.

What effect the campaign will have though is yet to be seen. The charity has its aims focused though, arguing that "only through investment in small-scale, sustainable agriculture, will farmers in the developing world be able to grow enough food for themselves and their communities, bringing an end to world hunger." We can hope.

Vist the HungerFREE campaign site at www.actionaid.org.uk/hungerfree

See more of the work of Gavin Evans at www.gavinevans.com