On Monday 24th October I woke up earlier than usual knowing I had to be somewhere important. Despite the slight chill in the morning air, I was eager to start my Monday morning productively. What instigated this excitement was a personal invite to Johny Dar’s ‘Jeans For Refugees‘ exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. I first came across Johny Dar’s collection of jeans at nhow hotel, Milan where I stayed as part of a sponsored trip during fashion week. I remember walking through the atrium of the hotel and suddenly, with intrigue, became drawn to a beautiful display of colorful hand painted jeans. The entire set up looked like a mini exhibition. Out of interest, I got speaking to a lovely lady by the name of Kashi Money who enlightened me about artist and designer Johny Dar and his cause – ‘Jeans For Refugees’ hence the invite to the launch of Johny Dar’s exhibition at The Saatchi Gallery. For the first time in a while, I was extremely happy to be out of a warm, comfortable bed early on a Monday morning seeing as I was about to support a magnificent initiative.
‘Jeans For Refugees’ is a global artistic collaboration dedicated to helping refugees worldwide. The JFR initiative has a huge celebrity following having inspired 100 international A-list celebrities to donate a pair of their jeans which Johny Dar then hand painted to reflect the personality of each celebrity. I was mesmerised by a room full of different size jeans at the Saatchi gallery each of which showcased a unique design. I personally got to touch jeans previously owned by Anna Wintour, Olivia Newton-John, Usher, Kate Moss, the list goes on. Also on display was a suit jacket donated by Elton John which had been hand painted by Johny Dar. What each piece has in common is intensity of colour complimenting Dar’s ‘Paradise’ series: ’18 paintings representing a utopia.’ These paintings were on display as part of the exhibition generating a harmonious energy you tend to feel when around nature hence strong imagery of green leafy trees – very symbolic of freedom. To the contrary, this has been taken away from many like the refugees Johny Dar supports through his creative work.
The harsh reality is there are humanitarian issues happening right now but through Johny Dar’s artistry, we are left with a reminder that the beauty is in the struggle. The latter makes us stronger, more hopeful and builds more awareness to work collectively in order to fight against the many political and economic problems with which we are faced. I wanted to meet Johny at the exhibition who was unable to attend due to volunteering in Calais. It was unfortunate to hear that a refugee camp was being demolished around the same time as the exhibition. Staying true to his cause, Johny had to be in Calais to support more than 10,000 refugee inhabitants without shelter.
The JFR exhibition, presented by NAMA Women Advancement Establishment is running until 30th October at the Saatchi Gallery. The Jeans For Refugees are available to bid for online at https://auction.catawiki.com/JeansForRefugees-auction. Proceeds are donated to the International Rescue Committee.
Such a great cause and one that ‘celebrates individuality, championing inclusivity and affirming the equal value of every human life…to act for positive change’