Because I’m finally FINALLY able to write this very special blog post, which is a round up of the total money raised and donated to various charities and NFPs - as nominated by the beautiful women who agreed to letting me paint their portrait and designs for my most recent solo exhibition and series ‘Women of Colour’.
The ‘Women of Colour’ series was my most ambitious solo to date. Two years in the making this vibrant collection of striking portraits saw me able to spotlight twelve fellow Australian creative women who have inspired myself - and countless others - in their fierce pursuit of a life lived in brilliant colour and bold substance. This array of ‘Art with Heart’ set out to celebrate cultural diversity and the gift that pursuing a life of creative contribution can bring while also raising awareness and money for 12 worthwhile charities and NFPS. Subjects included fellow artists, writers, dancers, fashion designers, musicians and social advocates from all parts of the country and each subject or designer was asked to nominate a charity or NFP close to their heart to see 20% of the original artwork price and purchased limited edition prints donated to.
My decision to make this series of work a fundraising project, came about from a few motivating factors. While I certainly don’t make enough money from my practice to even pay tax, let alone claim any back (well not yet anyway!), I still ache to see my work making a real and positive impact on the communities of everyday Australians, from a range of diverse backgrounds and areas of need – because while it is all good and well to produce uplifting imagery to share in the world, I know the impact of art and my creative contribution can go further. My social conscience is very strong and I realised this even more so when I threw myself back into painting in 2010 and I’ve used my art many times since to raise awareness and funds for a number of causes, including the time I participated in ‘Shave for a Cure’ in 2013 raising over $10,000 for the Leaukeamia Foundation (you can read all about that here.)
I don’t just create art because it feels good and I enjoy it, I also create art to communicate what is most important to me and what I want to see more of in the world. If I were limited to describing what that is in just a few words, than I’d have to say I want to see more ‘Colour, Creativity, Courage and Compassion’ in the world. There could never be enough. My art doesn’t come from a place of pain or struggle, it comes largely from a place of gratitude, curiosity and hope and it’s the result of a lifetime experiencing creative encouragement and endless love from my family and community. This doesn’t make me particularly special, but I'm certainly very fortunate and I’m using the privilege that my life grants me everyday, living here in this lucky country, loved, in a body that affords me an expanse of abilities and a desire to do more than is expected - to pay it forward with what I’ve got at hand.. Majority of us are in this position, with different actions and offerings to choose from. It’s all in the actual doing though and I implore everyone to do what you can, wherever you are, with whatever you've got, Because we are all connected and in this together.
The women who most inspire me are the courageous ones, the deep thinkers, the makers, the doers, the ones that dare to go against the crowd in the hope that they will get more from this short life and as a result their courage and action inspires others and even brings about positive change. I wanted to paint just a few of these women to share their contributions on the platforms I've created for myself, they are women I want to hear more from, and see more often in the media and women that I think others can take great inspiration from.. In fact I want to be one of those women! My art, my actions and dedication of time to this creative pursuit can also help to inspire others, I’ve seen this time and time again and it never fails to empower me. I’m always going to go the extra step, even when I know I should take a few less. Call me an over achiever perhaps, but I continue to feel motivated by my gratitude for this life of mine and it really all stems from there.
Added to these very core reasons for doing what I’ve done with this series, I have to tell you candidly that I so often get approached about donating my artwork for various fundraising events, organisations and communities - many of which I know little about or have no experience or link to - which many artists would also have experienced and can very much relate to. While it is always flattering to have your work admired and thought of, I must admit I find it really overwhelming to be asked so frequently for donations of original artwork. It happens at least once per month, and if I added up the value of the works I’ve donated in total over the past 20 years I would easily have hit more than my current annual income. I don't know how many people can say they donated a year's worth of income to charity. It would be of no great surprise if I were to tell you all that pursuing an artistic career such as painting does not exactly equal riches, or any form of financial stability for that matter and even if I were to sell one painting a day I would never cover the hours of work I’ve put into my practice. It’s a career path that requires great financial sacrifice and redefining of what the word ‘success’ personally means to me vs what everyone else might like to tell you. Yet artists and artworks are so often sought after for donations for fundraising events to provide a unique cultural experience to their audience and provide ‘exposure’ for emerging artists and hobbyists alike. While it is great to have a platform to have your work seen on, it can be quite stressful and financially debilitating to give work away for free and to be asked so often – ultimately to help others in need when many artists themselves are struggling to pay their monthly bills. So rather than allowing the overwhelming number of requests for artwork donations to get me down, I decided to take matters into my own hands and find a happy middle ground.
For this series and personal passion-project, I wanted to learn about the charities and NFPs closest to the hearts of the women I chose to paint, the women who inspire me! By donating a portion of my artwork and print sales, I was still able to pay it forward in a bunch of different directions while covering most of my own costs. It also means that I can tell you all exactly where I’ve chosen to direct my donations for the next few years, so it won’t hurt so much when I tell the next curious person seeking artwork donations that I have in fact reached my quota. And proudly so! Please know that I write this all with love and hope it helps many to consider new ways and means in which to fundraise for your own passion projects in the future.
So it is with endless thanks to the beautiful and generous collectors of five of my originals and the purchase of up to twenty of my limited edition prints over the past 18 months and winning bids from the opening night silent auction event for the gorgeous donations of dresses from Australian fashion label ‘Mister Zimi’, a handbag and purse donation from ‘Marimekko Australia’ and the stunning Australian made scarf from ‘Letitia Green Designs and framed artist prints from Left Bank Gallery’...
the total amount of money raised from this series so far, is; $5130.
The six charities and NFPs to receive donations (and beautiful humans to nominate each) from this total amount are:
The Starlight Children’s Foundation – received $1400 – nominated by ‘Mister Zimi’.
Beyond Blue – received $1275 - nominated by Letitia Green Designs
Sisters Inside – received $240 – nominated by Amrita Hepi
Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture & Trauma – received $780 – nominated by Charmaine Idris of ‘Diva Headwraps’.
Redland’s Centre for Women – received $760 - nominated by Maryann Talia Pau
Cure Brain Cancer Foundation – received $675 – nominated by Tamara Armstrong in memory of our friend Rebecca Fletcher.
‘Rainbow Dreaming – A portrait of Aretha Stewart’ Raising funds for AIME Mentoring.
‘The Art of Giving & Receiving – A portrait of Ellen Stapleton’ Raising fund for the ‘Indigenous Literacy Foundation’.
‘The Water – A portrait of Waveney Yasso’ Raising fund for the Puuya Foundation
‘Embrace – A portrait of Michelle Law’ Raising funds for Rare Cancers Australia.
‘Inshallah – A portrait of Yassmin Abdel-Magied’ Raising funds for Youth Without Borders.
‘Centennial Kim – A portrait of Kim Leutwyler’ Raising funds for The Global Women’s Project.
To everyone who purchased a ticket to come along to the International Women’s Day Creative Immersion Day and to the amazing crowd of people that travelled from far and wide to celebrate this long awaited event with me on the opening night, I can’t thank you enough for making both events so very special. I shared so much of my heart in the words I shared with you all and I truly felt that you all saw me, heard me and sent the love straight back. I’ll never forget the warmth and connections and smiles I personally witnessed happening between you all as well, my artistic peers, my family, my friends, my greatest supporters and the gorgeous friends you brought with you.
It was truly magic!
To watch the beautiful video captured by Chantal Keegan click here.
For the complete album of stunning images by River Hazel taken on International Women's Day, click here.
And for all images from the opening night taken by Daniel Snare, click here.