Artists auction off ‘secret’ works as St Stephen’s raises £9k for school

See all the pictures from the event on our Flickr photo gallery

Pupils and parents at a Shepherds Bush primary raised £9,000 for the school – by making art! 

The Secret Artist project at St Stephen’s – which aimed to highlight the importance of art on the national curriculum – culminated in an exhibition and silent auction last Thursday (23 Feb) with dozens of artworks on display.

In a twist, a selection of the children’s final artworks – along with 40 more pieces of art created by parents and staff – were displayed anonymously and sold to the highest bidder at a silent auction.

The 200 guests at the auction event were unaware of exactly who had created which artwork, meaning each piece was sold purely on its artistic merit.

Michael Schumm, headteacher at Uxbridge Road school, said: “The Secret Artist was a real showcase of all the creative talent within our school community, from the children to parents and staff.

“The money raised means a tremendous amount because in this time of funding cuts, the money goes directly back to the pupils.”

Local artists

The exhibition included a display of 24 pieces of art created by pupils alongside 40 artworks by adults within the school community.

Auctioneer Jamie Coia

The ‘secret artists’ who were the top sellers on the night included Frith Kerr, Julian Rena, Kate Pattinson, Sorrel Challands and Lottie Ingledew.

The Secret Artists event was dreamed up by local artist and former architect Louisa Cookson with fellow St Stephen’s parents Elly Cornwall and Lottie Ingledew, the initiative launched at the end of January when Shepherds Bush resident and local historian Caroline Macmillan shared her knowledge of the area with the school’s 340 pupils.

Louisa explained the children were each given a map of local landmarks and access to materials, before producing an artwork a fortnight later at school.

“They were all given the same materials and A3 sheet of paper and produced the work without parental intervention,” she revealed.

“The diversity was amazing. The pie and mash shop, Westfield, the library and fruit and veg stalls all featured, and the children tried out watercolours, graphite pencil, paints, felt tip pens and collage to create their pieces.”

Experts Auriol Herford, who owns Kite Studios in Bassein Park Road, and Anna Singelke, who teaches art at Greenside Primary School, in Westville Road, whittled down the chidlren’s artworks to just 24 that would be displayed and auctioned at the final event.

Meanwhile, parents and staff at the school channelled their own artistic talents to provide anonymous submissions, which were displayed with help from parent Richard Haddock’s design company 4D Projects.

Big night

At least 200 people attended the final exhibition at the school and helped to raise the bumper amount of cash on the night.

“It has been a wonderful way to highlight the arts and the need to nourish creative talent, in children and adults,” added Louisa.

The school hasn’t stopped there: following The Secret Artist exhibition, it has run a dedicated arts week, as part of its focus on creativity.

Xavier Bray, a parent at the school and director of the prestigious Wallace Collection gallery, added: “Making art, and making use of our world class museums and galleries, are vital tools for children to develop their understanding of the world around them. 

“Looking hard at a painting for more than 60 seconds can often take you on a wonderful journey, to discover the worlds of others, past and present.”

Click here to see all of the art works auctioned off on the night.

The Secret Art auction at St Stephen's School

Caroline MacMillan (historian) and Andrew Wilson

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