skip to main content

Reporting back from the WaterAid Talk

Written by Postgraduate Community
Published date 19 March 2018
By Tracy Gordon,  MA Service, Experience and Design Innovation 
at London College of Communication

 “How many of you, when you turned on the tap this morning, stopped to consider the miracle that came out? How many of you thought about whether it was going to kill you?”

On 14 March 2018 hosted by UAL’s Postgraduate Community Programme, Marcus Missen, WaterAid’s Director of Communications and Fundraising delivered a talk to UAL postgraduate students, staff and alumni, to show the power of artistic mediums in the mission to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation.

During the talk, Missen presented some of the most successful campaigns WaterAid has led, for example, Out of order, a multi-media exhibition featuring female artists, exploring what it means to be a woman living without toilet access and the impact that lack of decent, private toilets has on 1 in 3 women across the globe.

Another example is the Water Stories Project, supported by the HSBC Water Programme.  It is a photographic exhibition that showcases the global water scarcity and contamination crisis in powerful images, which has been taken to Stockholm, London, Hong Kong, New York, Vancouver and Australia. This exhibition sparked immediate conversations and reached thousands of people, by building empathy between people.

“We talk about progress and agency. What better way is there to do this than digital art?”

The Untapped campaign shared experiences and helped communicate with people in a village in Tomboohuan. It allowed supporters to participate and engage with communities and bring them closer to the people they were helping by introducing the chatbot and enabled to ask questions to Sellu, a farmer and fisherman in Sierra Leone.

WaterAid also illuminated London’s South Bank with 3D projections of the residents of Tombohuaun in Sierra Leone. Giving a sense of old fashioned storytelling for people to be able to understand what it is like to be in Tombohuaun and to help bring awareness activation, progress and positivity.

Many other examples were shared during the talk, but the message was clear, the water crisis affects us all, and rather than just telling or asking people to help, getting them to interact helps change behavior and brings action.

WaterAid has only started the journey and there is so much more they want to do. With the mission to redefine how charities work, UAL participants were encouraged to take their efforts even further, and get involved by becoming student ambassadors, starting a society, and starting their own creative projects, with the commitment that the greatest ideas will be added to WaterAid’s campaigns.

The talk was followed by a Q&A, a drinks reception and a sensory experience by immersing participants in a 360° world through a Virtual Reality documentary.  It allowed participants to look in any direction, to get a unique insight into people’s lives, and to be engaged in the story of Krishna, a plumber who introduces people to his friends and family in post-earthquake Nepal, who seek to restore their community’s damaged water supply.

A story that has been told many times is more effective when it is engaging and immersive for the audiences.


Aftershock Trailer

WaterAid is using emerging technologies to engage and educate people of the reality of others, and to invite them to reflect on the issues of water and to take action by getting involved. UAL students, staff were also challenged to consider the potential of artistic endeavors in campaigning and advocacy, mass engagement, education, product design and ultimately stimulating the wider processes of social and economic transformation.

Still to come from WaterAid at UAL

Pop Up Common Room events taking bookings:

Exclusive to UAL’s Postgraduate Community, Pop Up Common Room events assist in the community’s aims for building platforms for skill sharing, networking, collaboration and investigating new communities of practice. Find out more about previous Pop Up Common Room events on our blog:

Related Links: