Art auction will celebrate Sussex's big heart

Sussex-based children's illustrator Sir Quentin Blake is among the celebrity artists to give their backing to this year's Big Heart Auction, a major fund-raising initiative for ChestnutTree House children's hospice.

The Stillness Settles Down by Pippa Blake, held by fundraiser Alison Taylor
The Stillness Settles Down by Pippa Blake, held by fundraiser Alison Taylor

Around 200 works of art will be auctioned off this summer – the culmination of a road trip which will see selected works tour the county during the build-up to the online auction.

One of the highlights will be Sir Quentin’s The Art Bird.

“As a children’s book illustrator, I’m particularly pleased to be able to support this wonderful children’s charity in this way,” he said, “and I hope that my contribution will enable them to continue their invaluable support for so many families.”

Money raised will be split 80 per cent to Chestnut Tree House – which covers both East and West Sussex – and 20 per cent to Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival’s Umbrella Club.

Liz Ganney, head of fundraising development at Chestnut Tree House, said: “Our Big Heart Auction returns after the phenomenal success of last year where we raised over £30,000. I’m overwhelmed at the generosity of Sussex’s artistic community and very proud to reveal the artworks we have in our Big Heart 2016 collection.We have a terrific breadth of work available to bid on and will continue to add artworks in the coming months, so do keep returning to our website to see the latest additions.The auction will include a wonderful range of donated artwork from professional local,national and celebrity artists, illustrators and photographers. All the works will be availableto purchase via the online auction on Ebay running from July 1-10, and you can view them all online at”

Building on last year’s success, Liz and the team are determined to take the works much more out into the community this year. Hence this year’s pre-auction tour.

Opening at the Candida Stevens Gallery in Chichester on February 15-17, selected pictures from the auction will also be travelling to Crawley from April 25-29, Worthing Dome on May 16-17, Towner Art Gallery Eastbourne on June 7-9, St Mary in the Castle Hastings from June 21-23 and finally Brighton Dome from July 1-4.

There will be a strong Chichester contingent among the artists. Taking part will be Pippa Blake, Carol Naylor, Becky Rose and Deborah Mitchelson, plus Jenny Lock from Littlehampton and Veronique Maria from Arundel.

Liz added: “We are always having to find new ideas to raise money, and the more interesting and fun, the better. We need to raise three and a half million pounds a year. It’s increasing all the time, but that’s what it is at the moment. I have a bit of an arts background, and we know that charity art auctions are becoming very popular. We had a look around and copied a few ideas, but we wanted to create something that very much had a Sussex flavour. We have focused on Sussex artists, plus also some artworks from our own children. This year we are also trying to involve some artworks from local schools.

“We have got a professional curator on board, and she is inviting professional artists to take part.

“We are trying to keep the standard up, and we are aiming for about 200 artworks in all, which is more or less what we had last year. We realised that was about as many as we could handle because the final exhibition is at the Brighton Dome.

“But this year we are also going to five different venues around Sussex, with about 30 works of art to each. This year we were wanting to get to as wide an audience as possible. We worked a lot with our own database and our own supporters last year but we realised that most people like to see art in the flesh, which is why we are having the satellite exhibitions this time.”

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