The homelessness charity has teamed up with the augmented reality platform Aurasma to bring its art exhibition to life

Tracy Emin's artwork for the exhibition, Trust Me
Tracy Emin's artwork for the exhibition, Trust Me

What is it?

Nine artists, including Tracy Emin and Jonathan Yeo, have joined Crisis for an art exhibition at Somerset House in London on the theme of homelessness.

So what’s new?

For the first time those attending the exhibition can point their phones at the paintings on display to view interviews with the artists talking about their work and the exhibition.

How does it work?

Visitors to the Somerset House exhibition can simply download the free Aurasma Lite app and point their smartphone or tablet at the artwork to see it burst to virtual life. For example, embedded in Tracey Emin’s work is a short video of the artist talking about the exhibition and her sources of inspiration. Similarly, the Jonathan Yeo piece reveals an interview with the artist and the people who sat for the painting on display.

How does this benefit the charity?

Users will be able to click through to make donations directly from their smart devices. The exhibition also features five works created by homeless or vulnerably housed Crisis artists at Crisis Skylight centres across the country, intended to raise awareness of their work.

All of the artworks will be sold by auction at Christie’s on 3 May, with all proceeds going to Crisis. The cost of commissioning the artwork was met by the sponsor, GlaxoSmithKline.

Watch a video of Aurasma and Crisis in action:


Why has the charity done it?

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, says: "We’re really pleased to have Aurasma bring an entirely new dimension to the exhibition. We hope it can help provide a timely boost to donations and awareness of homelessness issues."

Martina King, managing director of Aurasma, adds: "This is the first exhibition to use Aurasma in this way, and it is paving the way for a future in which the clunky headsets given out at museums and galleries are replaced by interactive and informative content embedded in the artworks themselves."

Third Sector verdict:

This is the second instance we have come across of charities using Aurasma to promote their work, with Save the Children using the app to bring to life its newsletters earlier this year. In this case, the app will help visitors engage with the works of art like never before and provide them with unique insight from the artists. Having the donation function also provides an opportunity to raise money for the charity.

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