Buy a cool Katherine Hamnett T-shirt and help support UK artists

One of the success stories of 2020 was merch. Merch for the NHS, merch to help keep restaurants going, you name it. Pretty early on in lockdown, savvy types realised that buying shit online was one of the few pleasures left to beleaguered Brits, and we started Shopifying like it was going out of fashion.

Speaking of fashion, London catwalk donna Katherine Hamnett has just lent her style chops to the Contemporary Art Society. Her new ‘Choose Art’ T-shirts are an integral part of the CAS’s campaign to support artists across London and the UK. Choose Art is raising money to allow museums and galleries to purchase works by British artists to add to their permanent collections. The idea is that when art venues can reopen on May 17 (or whatever date they can open up again in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), they will be able to have some hip new works to show the eager art-starved punters.

Last year, the CAS’s Rapid Response Fund raised more than £230,000 to buy 106 artworks for 16 museums across the UK. Choose Art will purchase works by living artists based in the UK, with the first purchasing round in May. Hamnett’s Choose Art T-shirt is based on her now-iconic ‘Choose Life’ design, launched back in 1983, which quickly become a pop-culture landmark. If you donate at least £60, you’ll receive one of the limited-edition T-shirts. A hundred quid gets you two, £200 four and so on. Ten quid gets you a badge. But be quick: the Choose Art campaign will only be live for one month until Thursday April 15 2021.

The campaign is designed to support as many different artists and local museums as possible. Money raised will be spent on art, and providing financial support to artists, technicians and art handlers, many of whom work as freelancers and who have seen their income decimated over the past year.

Katharine Hamnett says of Choose Art: ‘Art and design are and always have been at the cutting-edge not just of culture, but civilisations. Art in the UK is under threat right now. Huge holes in public finances due to Covid and changes in the rules thanks to Brexit are going to mean that art, artists, art education and museums are going to need all the help they can get to survive.’

We’re pretty sure that Yard Sale x Jessica Ware T-shirt you bought last summer under the influence of ale is starting to look a bit manky now, so why not upscale your merch and help an artist out, eh? 

Donate at and follow the Contemporary Art Society on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #ChooseArt.

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Check out the Barbican’s 2021 programme.

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