Return of the Ashes

Return of the Ashes

Return of the Ashes

Poetic title and beautiful black and white images; I guess however you would never imagine what they refer to. The highly aesthetic project “Return of the Ashes” actually is … a social campaign.

In 2014 the Forestry department of Thailand looked at their statistics and what they found was quite shocking:  since 1985 the country suffered over 75.000 wildfires!  They caused massive destruction over 34.000* acres per year and this is an equivalent of approximately 34.000.000 trees!

In the latest years wildfire has been a serious global problem destroying wood areas in extremely large scale. Especially in hot tropical climates, like this of Thailand, it is also a quite frequent accident. The main concern however was that 90% of them were caused by human and only 10% were natural.  In addition to this disturbing issue, there has been another one in regards to their suppression – a shortage of firefighters and inadequate equipment.

Something had to be done urgently to increase public awareness about the threat of the wildfire in Thailand’s forests.  The department turned for a partnership to the local company HHK Intertrade (a leader of imported goods on stationary and art supplies of world class brands) which in turn collaborated with the Swiss manufacturer of high quality writing and drawing instruments Caran D’Ache and the advertising company Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok, Thailand. The task was to draw the attention of the people to the escalating situation, to educate as well to engage them, and also to collect profit for new equipment for the firefighters to combat wildfires more effectively.

They came with a great idea on two levels.

The first target was to gather money through the selling of beautifully designed and packaged artisanal product by Caran D’ Ache. Using selected pieces of burning trees, barks, branches and leaves as a symbol of rebirth after the destruction, they produced limited edition sets of 6 charcoal pencils each. They were sold in the brand’s shops and online, and the funds were then donated to the firefighting department to increase the number of firefighters and supplying them with better equipment.

On the other hand, the team of Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok held an exhibition to raise public awareness by demonstrating the negative impacts of the increasing wildfires – upon the global climate, water resources, wildlife,  soil quality and etc. With minimalist approach in the black and white palette they created stunning posters and installations to portray the problem, and exposing all facts and figures in form of visual data to engage deeply the people.

Did it have a positive outcome? According to the companies’ statement within two weeks all charcoal sets were sold out and the exhibition was visited by 200.000 people. Moreover, the exhibition became one of top 4 talks that people discussed about in Thailand for months. The most valuable result however was that the campaign provoked the government sector to be more rigorous in monitoring the incidents and held many training seminars for people in the forest areas to know how to control the incidents.

Click on the image below to see a short video about the campaign.

Return of the Ashes

Return of the Ashes

*there is a significant discrepancy in these numbers in different sources starting from 34.000 acres up to 59.000 acres, but I used these presented on the official site of the campaign.


Bordalo II – ‘Abandoned’

Artur Bordalo aka Bordalo II is a young urban artist from Portugal who creates exceptional 3-D mural sculptures using cans, tires, plastics, car bumpers and whatever waste he finds in the cities. All this trash is his medium in spreading socially oriented messages to provoke  our modern cultures, ruled by the consumerism. Trash, as he describes it, “is the fruit of excessive consumerism”. The current slogan of the ‘advanced’ world – buy, buy, buy, then use it one time and throw it – leads to unnecessary quantities of garbage, which has a huge impact on the environment. However, the consumerism has also a hidden side effect upon our souls, transforming us into selfish, careless and irresponsible creatures.

Bordalo II - Trash Animals

Bordalo II – Trash Animals


Especially concerned about the animal welfare, Bordalo II has chosen them as main objects in most of his works to depict the thoughtless human behavior. His latest project called ‘Abandoned’ (Trash Animals) aims to raise awareness to problems with pet treatment and abandonment. The issue expands to incredible size particularly during the summer months. Not being able to take the pets with them due to different obstacles, their owners prefer to get rid of the animals at the expense of their vacation.  “I can´t understand how someone can go on holiday at peace with himself when he abandoned a son”, says the artist and hopes that his works will shake up the owners and they will reconsider their actions  before to leave and discard like a waste their yesterday’s beloved cats and dogs.


Pawel Kuczynski – the cruel side of the reality

The works of the Polish artist Pawel Kuczynski are powerful portraits of the social, political and cultural reality we are living in. And sadly, this is the reality we have been living in for centuries. Nothing has changed in the human relationships – wars, money, poverty, hunger, greed, political power and so on. We haven’t learned from our mistakes at all. These works are created exactly to show us the “Matrix” we are still part of and provoke us to question it.

Pawel Kuczynski

Pawel Kuczynski