Welcome to ArtWorks

Statement | Geneva | 08 October 2012
Work and Art are part of the human condition. From the first time that human beings gathered food, or built themselves shelter, or turned a skin pelt into clothing, work has been an integral part of our lives. And ever since the very first drawings on the walls of caves, we have been using art as a powerful means of expression.

Work is a transformative force in our society, and Art is also a powerful force for change – it inspires, and moves people to act.

Work is a transformative force in our society, and Art is also a powerful force for change – it inspires, and moves, people to act."
Throughout history and across different cultures, art has often sought inspiration in the world of work – in sculpture, in painting, in literature, in music and in film. And art has also promoted, and celebrated, dignity, freedom, voice and justice – the very foundations of social justice.

From its beginnings, the ILO has had an association with art – the walls of the first ILO building here in Geneva are decorated with paintings and murals, and in our corridors we have many works of art from all over the globe, all portraying the world of work in all its diversity and richness. Artists have supported ILO campaigns to eradicate child labour, to end slavery, and to promote social justice, to name a few.

And now, when we look around the world and see hundreds of millions of people living in poverty, or in conditions of slavery, when we see millions of children forced to work – and millions of adults and youngsters without a job, when we see people’s rights under threat, we feel that we need to work with artists even closer than before, to draw attention to the plight of all these women, men and children, and to inspire others to act.

We believe that we have enormous opportunity and the chance to do a great deal of good if we work together.

This is the reason behind ArtWorks – the initiative will grow as we move towards our centenary. For now, I invite you to explore the site and to take action. 

Your goodwill will make a difference in the lives of millions.


Guy Ryder
Director-General