Heathrow press releases

16 October, 2015

The Secret Life of the Pencil at Heathrow

The Secret Life of Pencils


Following from the success of the ‘Secret Pencils’ launch event and charity auction in Central London, the project is now opening up to an international audience.

Artists Alex Hammond and Mike Tinney are exhibiting in Heathrow while they travel to The Democratic Republic of the Congo with partner charity Children in Crisis to witness first-hand their work and the lives of young Congolese creatives.

The 3.5 metre pencil sculpture will be an intriguing oddity in Terminal 5’s check-in area from the 15th October to the 30th November 2015. On each side of the pencil sculpture will be photographic images from ‘The Secret Life of the Pencil’ project. The gathered content from Alex and Mike’s DR Congo travels will form a new chapter within the Secret Pencils project.

The photographic project seeks to savour the use of pencils – documenting them in stunning detail, and thereby showing the secrets of their use and revealing an insight into their users.

Whilst celebrating what the pencil has created in the 20th and 21st century, we are also looking at what it is yet to create. Our close association with the charity ‘Children in Crisis’ highlights that, whether in the hands of a world renowned architect or a child from DR Congo, the pencil still has its role at the origins of creativity.

Heathrow passengers can make a contribution to Children in Crisis by purchasing limited edition posters and original prints at the Paul Smith shop in Terminal 5 or online at paulsmith.co.uk/secretpencils


The project

The humble pencil is found where most of mankind’s greatest achievements begin. But will the touch-screen generation ever feel the pleasure of a freshly sharpened pencil or the frustration of a shattered lead?

This photographic project seeks to savour the use of pencils – documenting them in stunning detail, and thereby showing the secrets of their use and revealing an insight into their users: professionals who have defined themselves and their craft with the help of the modest stylus.

Unassuming, unsung and 0.02% the cost of an ipad, our faithful friend continues to lead its many secret lives alongside much more complex technology but at the heart of our most decisive and moving creators.

This collection of pencil images is a direct link back to some of the 20th and 21st centuries’ greatest illustrations, buildings, artworks, photographs, products, make-up designs, graphics, novels, poems, fashion, cartoons and even films.


Children in Crisis

‘Children in Crisis is a UK-based charity, helping children who are suffering the effects of conflict and civil war. They work to ensure that these children are educated, protected and that the most vulnerable amongst them do not suffer discrimination. Currently operating in Afghanistan, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Children in Crisis support countless children who don’t even have access to a pencil - let alone a laptop. If we can support their projects, by helping to provide reading, writing and thinking skills, along with pens, pencils and paper; then we will have given the opportunity to some of the less fortunate to flourish, learn, create and design...and ultimately take their rightful place in the wider world.

The pencil is a catalyst for creativity for all people, of all ages, in all places. A catalyst for a positive way out of poverty and trauma.

The Secret Life of the Pencil and Children in Crisis - with their shared visual symbol  - is a natural and powerful partnership for change.


Alex and Mike

Artists Alex Hammond and Mike Tinney have reached beyond their founding disciplines of design and photography through this installation in order to create hyper-real images of the everyday. In particular, they have addressed the pencil as the common denominator in creative work, whatever the industry.






David Adjaye, William Alsop, David Bailey, Edward Barber, Celia Birtwell, Sir Peter Blake, Sir Quentin Blake, William Boyd, Michele Burke, Ian Callum, Louis de Bernieres, Tom Dixon, James Dyson, Dave Eggers, Tracey Emin, Anne Fine, Lord Norman Foster, Stephen Fry, Andrew Gallimore, Sir Kenneth Grange, Charlie Green, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, Thomas Heatherwick, Pam Hogg, Henry Holland, Peter Jensen, Nadav Kander, Anish Kapoor, Asif Khan, Mike Leigh, Sargy Mann, Alexander McCall-Smith, Rory McIlroy, David Montgomery, Jay Osgerby, Nick Park, Nigel Parkinson, John Pawson,

Kate Rhodes, Dame Zandra Rhodes, Christopher Reid, David Rock, Peter Saville, Posy Simmonds, Gerard Scarfe, Sir Peter Scott, David Shilling, David Shrigley, Sir Paul Smith, Philippe Starck, Tom Stuart-Smith, Tim Walker, Stephen Wiltshire and Julia Quenzler.