As the world continues to live under lockdown during the unprecedented Coronavirus Pandemic, many artists are responding to the crisis by donating their work to charities and organisations supporting the fight against the deadly virus. Amongst them are auction house Bonhams and leading contemporary artists and cultural figures, who have collaborated on The Blue Auction, a not-for-profit digital auction raising funds for the NHS Charities Covid-19 urgent appeal.
Lee Sharrock spoke to The Connor Brothers about the charity auction organised by Bonhams which features artworks donated by leading contemporary artists, and special experiences including a visit to Grayson Perry’s studio and lunch with Dame Joan Collins at Claridges after the lockdown is lifted. The Connor Brothers created a unique hand-finished giclée print with oil, acrylic and pastel titled Extraordinary People, featuring a retro portrait of a nurse with the words “ There are no extraordinary people only ordinary people who do extraordinary things”, a fitting statement given the absolute heroism demonstrated by the NHS during this crisis.
Extrodinary People The Connor Brothers
Artist James Golding of The Connor Brothers explains: “It was Bonhams who approached us to donate a work for the auction they have organised. We’ve collaborated on another charity sale last year and they’ve always been great to work with. I don’t think there has been another time that as a nation we were so reliant on the dedication of NHS workers. We owe them a huge collective debt that we will never fully be able to repay. We want to do whatever we can to show our appreciation and gratitude for them.”
On responding to life under lockdown and whether it has affected the way The Connor Brothers work as artists, Golding says: “It’s surreal and shows just how fragile our everyday lives are. We’re working on projects we’ve wanted to do for ages but never made the time. Our book is planned to come out in the Autumn and we’ve finally got around to writing it.”
Among the generous donations to The Blue Auction are:
• Grayson Perry, who has offered a visit to his studio.
• Antony Gormley R.A. A work on paper, FOLD I, 2018, signed, titled and dated.
• Anish Kapoor has donated two etchings, Omo, (2019) and Glow (2018).
• The estate of Sir Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) has contributed Untitled, from ‘Buñuel Suite’. Screenprint and etching, 1996, signed, dated and numbered 24/40.
• Julian Opie (British, born 1958), Waitress, from ‘Walking in London’ (Cristea 269). Inkjet on lenticular acrylic panel, 2014, signed in black ink and inscribed ‘AP 4/10’ on a label affixed verso, one of ten artist’s proof aside the numbered edition of 50.
• The Connor Brothers (British) Extraordinary People. Unique hand-finished giclée print with oil, acrylic and pastel, 2020, on wove, signed and numbered 1/1 in pencil, printed and published by the artists.
• Patrick Hughes (British, born 1939), Banksee. Hand-painted 3D multiple with archival inkjet, 2018, signed and numbered from the edition of 75 in pencil, published by Reverspective Limited, London, in a Perspex presentation box.
• Bambi (British, born 1982) has donated Dog Saves The Queen, 2020, signed in black marker pen (lower right); spray paint on canvas.
• Sara Pope, Decadence (Pink) signed (on the reverse) coil on gesso covered wood panel.
Other highlights include:
• A behind-the-scenes tour by BAFTA award-winning actress Imelda Staunton
• Joining Jools Holland for drinks behind the scenes at one of his forthcoming shows
• Lunch at Claridge’s with international film star Dame Joan Collins and a supporting cast of her husband, Percy Gibson and national treasure, Christopher Biggins
• Jeremy Paxman invites you and another family of your choice to have a round of University Challenge in a no-holds-barred contest. This special experience comes complete with a scorer
• Lights, Camera, Action! The Ultimate Call the Midwife Experience. This exceptional ‘money can’t buy’ lot is for up to 4 people, and will take place during the filming of Series 10 of the hit BBC series, Call the Midwife. Upon arrival on set, you, and up to three friends, will go through hair, make-up and costume, before stepping out and playing a walk-on role in the drama. This will be followed by lunch or tea with the cast, and to end off this extraordinary day, you will be presented with a production script signed by the cast and crew. Generously arranged and donated by Dame Pippa Harris DBE, Neal Street Productions, Heidi Thomas, Ann Tricklebank and Jenny Agutter OBE
Copyright Julian Opie
Bonhams is waiving all charges which means 100% of proceeds are going to the NHS Charities Covid-19 Urgent Appeal. Funds from the NHS Covid-19 appeal will help support the health and wellbeing of NHS staff and volunteers supporting Covid-19 patients in ways above and beyond which NHS funding can ordinarily provide. The appeal has a target of £100 million.
Ellie Orton, Chief Executive of NHS Charities Together, said: “As the nation adjusts to life in lockdown, the commitment of NHS staff and volunteers shouldn’t be far from our minds. These are the people who leave their homes to care for others and work tirelessly in the face of the virus when they’re needed most. It’s easy to feel powerless in these challenging times but this campaign is a way we can make a difference, to look after these heroes so they can give the best care possible in these unprecedented circumstances.”
Copyright Sara Pope
Patrick Masson, Bonhams Managing Director for the UK and Europe said:
“The NHS staff and volunteers are heroes to us all. We at Bonhams are honoured to host this initiative and to donate the skills we have at our auction house to support those who are working so hard for us on the frontline.”
Money raised in the auction will go towards:
1. Funding well-being packs/gifts for staff and volunteers on wards/departments (this could include food deliveries, high energy/protein bars/drinks, snacks, refreshments, wash kits, overnight stay kits.)
2. Cost of travel, parking, accommodation for NHS staff and volunteer’s expenses
3. Other items as requested by NHS Charities that enhance the well-being of NHS staff and volunteers caring for Covid-19 patients.
The auction will be hosted at bonhams.comand run until Wednesday 29th April. Bids can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling Bonhams on +44 (0) 20 7447 7447. All lots can be viewed online at: www.bonhams.com/theblueauction