My dear Blighty Girls who I have lived with and argued with for four years have finally left me and gone to live in new homes. I hope they are very happy. [If you want to see them go to the Gallery section here.
The auction, hosted by the greatly enthusiastic Brownston Gallery in Modbury, South Devon, raised about £1,300 Help for Heroes (H4H).
Shan and Mandy
Before the auction with the Ukelele band
H4H personnel were impressively present throughout during an evening which tried to mix the tragedy of armed conflict with a suggestion of the glamour which helped keep troops fighting for their (and our) lives. The evening kicked off with a ukulele band aided by cider punch liberally supplied by the girls – Catherine, Alison, Nancy and their helpers. My own two 'Land Girls', models Shan and Mandy were gallantly transported down from North Devon by Stuart Fiddes. They were clad (nearly) in authentic costumes, though I must say I've yet to be convinced of their authenticity, but for all that they did look very sexy. Later they visited local pubs with their collecting buckets and swopped kisses for donations.
When the business was due to start, Catherine introduced first Larry from H4H, who gave a very informative and engaging talk about the work of H4H. She then moved on to me and I probably gabbledmy thanks to all the Blighty girls and guys who had helped and stood by me during this enterprise which, as time went on, seemed more and more hopeless and foolish. So my thanks are due principally to Mij and Gaye and Richard Lupton, who is a fine human-being and an inspiring representative for H4H. Richard was ably supported by Larry and Kev Preston – a Coldstream Guard who had been badly injured and who brought some of his fine detailed military art.
Following my very poor Oscar-type speech, the auctioneer, another Stuart, was truly magnificent. Without Stuart Cartwright I'm sure we would not have reached our target – which I had pitched at £1k for no reason other than it is a nice round number.
All the paintings sold due to his efforts and the willing wallets of those who bid. My eternal thanks to everyone who came and supported us and my thanks also to those who couldn't attend but sent messages of goodwill. I must particularly mention the wonderful Sam, who drove all the way from Guildford to be with us.
One thing which did rather surprise and disappoint me was that we received no online bids! As the bids would have come direct to me perhaps people were embarrassed to offer 50 quid thinking I might be insulted. Quite wrong, I would have been overjoyed! As it was most of the paintings went for around the £100 mark – the top bid being £150 (for 'Wand-reaper'). To be honest I had no idea what they would fetch, if anything at all, so it was a nerve-wracking enterprise with no bids in the bag, as it were, to begin with. I have enough faith in my work to believe that every painting sold is a piece of Fine Art in its own right and will prove a wise investment.