Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, the 2016 Secret Art Sale attracted even more artists to participate – from young aspiring artists to renowned professional painters, cartoonists and illustrators.
Over 170 6”x 6” canvases were submitted by 143 artists and put on display at the Upstairs Gallery at West House, Pinner Memorial Park over the weekend of 5th and 6th November. All canvases were presented anonymously for sale at the same price of £40, with all proceeds from the artworks sold going towards the new Heath Robinson Museum adjacent to West House.
Artists were given free rein to paint or decorate their canvases, with some incorporating metalwork, embroidery and textile compositions.
Curator of the Sale Ann Kopka said “This Secret Art Sale has unique characteristics; it is the only one we know of where artists who have agreed to participate are sent the canvases and where all the works exhibited are of a consistent size. It means that as a show it is stunningly effective and easier to appreciate the diversity of the art in different mediums. The Sale also gives people the chance to buy pictures by well-known artists at a fraction of the normal price.”
Councillor Jean Lammiman, who is also a Trustee of The West House and Heath Robinson Museum Trust, launched the Sale with a speech congratulating the artists and the volunteers who were stewarding the event over the weekend. Councillor Lammiman also introduced the Mayor of Harrow, Councillor Rekha Shah, who thanked all the contributing artists and gave special thanks to the Sale organisers Deena Dwala and Ann Kopka and sponsors, local estate agents Rawlinson Gold.
There was a real buzz in the room as the Sale opened. Sam Harvey, a local textile artist explained why she had been happy to contribute a canvas to support the Sale where all proceeds go to the new Museum: “Heath Robinson is one of the illustrators I love. I teach children and it’s lovely to now have a gallery I can take them to.”
Artist Shanti Panchal, a resident of Harrow who currently has a solo exhibition at the Piano Nobile, Kings Cross and exhibitor at the Secret Art Sale, said it meant a lot to him to have such an interest in art and flowering of talent on his doorstep.
In addition to the stunning display of pictures, the Secret Art Sale weekend featured a Silent Auction, a raffle and the opportunity for visitors to vote for their favourite canvas in The People’s Choice competition. The Silent Auction raised several hundred pounds for a painting donated by the renowned artist and Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell.
There were two marvellous raffle prizes: one a picture of Morph, an original with signature on the back, drawn and donated by Peter Lord of the Aardman Animations Studio, and another prize of a visit for six to the House of Illustration to see the Ardizzone exhibition accompanied by the Gallery’s Director.
As the Sale weekend came to an end, Heath Robinson Museum Trustee and Marketing Manager Veronica Chamberlain thanked all the visitors and contributing artists and thanked Dr Laurence Gerlis of samedaydoctor for sponsoring the People’s Choice prizes. Veronica said: “While the voting was spread across a wide range of canvases in the Exhibition, there was one clear winner. The People’s Choice award of £50 goes to painting number 145, a seascape and beach painted by local artist Lucy Davies. Lucy has already won acclaim, having appeared in the Sky Landscape Artist of the Year competition last year.”
There were two runners-up People’s Choice prizes. The first was won by twice BAFTA-nominated artist and designer Pete Wane with his quirky take on “6 by 6” and a nod to Heath Robinson as well as to Christmas puddings – a theme in a number of Pete’s other canvases at the Sale.
The other runner-up prize went to a blue abstract with gold by Helen Pringle. Helen lives locally and is not a professional artist: proof that local people can compete with the best!
This year, there was also another award, The Curator’s Prize, kindly donated by Ann Kopka, the Secret Art Sale Curator. The winner of this prestigious award was Shirley Batten-Smith with a bronze profile of William Heath Robinson. Ann described Shirley’s artwork as “an intelligent, inventive and ingenious use of material. It reminds me of a gold medal and seems particularly appropriate in this year, the launch of the new Heath Robinson Museum”.
For anyone who missed the Sale, the remaining canvases will be exhibited for sale by Rawlinson Gold in Bridge Street on Thursday 24th November as part of the Pinner Pantomime Evening.
The names of all the Secret Art Sale artists along with images of all the canvases can be seen here.