Friends of St Nicholas Church Art Auction 2019

Art Auction organised by the Friends of St Nicholas Church, Chiswick raises more than £26,000 

Sir Peter Blake’s screen print Red Nose Day 2019 sells for £2,300

The auction on Saturday afternoon 28th September 2019 at St Nicholas Church – organised by the Friends of St Nicholas Church – was a great success. It was attended by well over 150 people from near and far; close to 100 potential buyers registered to bid ahead of the sale, and all the 61 lots offered found buyers – many achieving multiples of their pre-sale estimates. In total the sale raised well over £26,000. 

The  purpose and aim of the Auction was to raise funds for the repair of the exterior stonework of the church, some of which is in an extremely poor state and in urgent need of repair.

The event was preceded by a lively viewing open to all comers on the Friday evening attended by some 250 people. Drinks were generously sponsored in kind by both Sipsmith and Fullers. And the Juliet Morton jazz trio provided a convivial musical backdrop to the exhibition. Prior to the auction on the Saturday, lunch was amply produced and very gamely served by Dave, the head chef at St Mary’s Convent and Nursing Home. 

The highest prices paid were for the two works generously donated by Peter Blake. His iconic and highly popular ‘Red Nose Day 2019’ which combines Disney’s Micky Mouse with Sir Peter’s own work, sold for £2,300 (pre-sale estimate £700-900), while his drily ironic ‘Games we used to play, things we used to do’ sold for £1600 (pre-sale estimate £700-1,000). 

Thereafter it was the work of former local artist Hugh Cronyn (1905-1996) which featured especially strongly in the sale. Represented by 7 lots, his crisp 1930s woodcut of the Black Lion sold for £700 (pre-sale estimate £120-180), while his late watercolour ‘Sundown, the Thames’ sold for 10 times estimate when it soared to £1,500 (pre-sale estimate £100-£150). The work of Bernard Myers (1925-2007) who lived in St Peter’s Wharf at the east end of Chiswick Mall also proved extremely popular with five of his works selling for £2,770. 

It was time and again bidders’ interest in the local connection that propelled prices upwards. The work of the highly successful designer Marthe Armitage met with considerable interest. Seven lengths of her wallpaper designs hand printed back in the late 1960s in her studio on Strand-on-the-Green and re-discovered in a Chiswick collection more than 50 years on proved to be a special draw. Some of the designs had actually been lost to the artist herself, so she was delighted to have them brought to her attention. The combined sum paid for the lengths was £900. Another more recent linocut proof of hers ‘Out and about’ sold for £420 (pre-sale estimate £150-250), while Marthe’s beautifully painted still life in oil sold for £450 (pre-sale estimate £150-250).   

Of other artists living locally, Ben Johnson’s work proved ever popular, his very elegant ‘Fingarden’ inspired by decorations in Iranian mosque interiors sold for £500 (pre-sale estimate £200-300); Graham Brandon’s exquisite portrait photographs of tribeswomen from Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea sold for £450 and £350 respectively (pre-sale estimates £200-300 each), while the fabulously vibrant and colourful oil ‘Dominica’ by former long time Chiswick resident Susie Hamilton (now living and working in the East End) sold for £400 (pre-sale estimate £250-350).     Francis Ames-Lewis, Chairman of the Friends of St Nicholas Church, said: ‘we are really delighted with the response that we have had from all those who attended the viewing, reception and auction. It was both a wonderful community event, and especially nice to welcome many newcomers to the church. The auction result is a tremendous addition to the funds we need to raise to begin the renovation of the exterior stonework of the building which is in a parlous state and in keen need of repair.’

Auctioneer Adrian Biddell who took the sale, is on the ‘Friends’ committee, and heads the Paintings and Fine Art department at Chiswick Auctions commented: ‘it was a great way to use the church – a ‘pop-up’ exhibition space and sale room. It shows how versatile this venerable building can be; so many who visited during the viewing remarked on its beauty. As to the sale itself, the artists and donors who donated works have been immensely generous, while even in these rather uncertain times it was very reassuring to see how eager the bidding was throughout the afternoon.’ 

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