It’s quite a commitment agreeing to give up some of your time to a charity and one which I think shouldn’t be taken lightly. I was approached a few years ago by Jenny Bower, our EAGB chairperson, to see if I’d have time to sit on the fundraising committee for The Princes Trust Bath as a fine art consultant, but at the time I was flat out with running Bath Contemporary on Gay Street in Bath. Fast track to the end of 2018, the closure of Bath Contemporary and the establishment of Axle Arts, when after a particularly good lunch and speaker presentation at our monthly EAGB meeting at the Royal Crescent Hotel, I decided the time had come to take the plunge and give back. I approached Jenny and offered my services, which were immediately accepted. Before I knew it, I found myself attending monthly meetings at Jenny’s offices on George Street in Bath with fellow committee members, Jen Robinson-Slater and Jane Day from The Princes Trust offices in Bristol, Richard Neville from Coutts and Brady George from Almeda in Bristol.
I have to honest, it was a bit of jolt when I realised the amount of work ahead of me. As their fine art consultant, a large chunk of the event rested on my shoulders, that being a high-end charity art auction which involved not only curating a collection of artworks but approaching selected artists and inviting them to donate. Alongside this comes a hand in the layout of the exhibition catalogue alongside helping to arrange collection of some of the work, plus trips to Highgrove to check out the suitability of the space and propose how to curate and present the exhibition. Cue discussions with exhibition hire companies and appropriate gasps at costs to eventually standing in the middle of the Orchard Room at Highgrove one rainy day, with a collection of artworks and easels all around me and a bored Jack Russell puppy. I’ve never curated an exhibition on easels and this was certainly different, but strangely fun. It’s always good as a creative to shake it up a bit and do something different. I’ve curated for commercial spaces as well as domestic, for not-for-profit art events in abandoned buildings through to public art galleries. I guess I’m lucky enough to be able to add a Royal residence to my rich tapestry of venues now.
It’s not easy working in the creative arts, we all know that it is massively underfunded and undervalued. Hopefully the ‘do less with more’ ethos will become a thing of the past before we cripple our creative industry further. Supporting a charity that helps vulnerable adults to establish themselves with a focus on the creative arts is a joy and a pleasure. Hard work yes, but pleasing in its fulfilment of having done something good for our community.
The Princes Trust at Highgrove charity art auction website is open to everyone – please take a look and if you can bid, please do consider doing so. It closes at midday on Wednesday 19th June. Remember, you’re supporting a very worthy cause.
PS: 21.6.19 A quick update, the event went off extremely well last night and the Princes Trust raised £47,544 after costs were met, which is incredible and will make a huge difference to a number of young adults lives. They couldn’t have achieved this without the amazing generosity of the donating artists, so a big thank you everyone who took part.