Breast cancer charity Art For Cure holds spring fundraising exhibition online

Belinda Gray, founder of Art For Cure

Belinda Gray, founder of Art For Cure - Credit: Nick Ilott Photography

Suffolk-based breast cancer charity Art for Cure is currently exhibiting a captivating new botanical and floral themed, virtual exhibition on their website, bringing together 40 talented and exciting artists, sculptors, ceramicists and photographers to raise money for a new state of the art breast cancer unit at Ipswich Hospital.

Art For Cure was founded in 2014 when Belinda Gray had completed nearly a year of treatment for an out-of-the-blue breast cancer, diagnosed when she was 46 years old.

Following her aggressive treatment of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy she wanted to raise money for national breast cancer research so hosted what was meant to be a one-off art and sculpture exhibition, over a weekend at her home near Woodbridge, clearing her house of furniture and hanging the art on her walls with sculpture outside.

Professional East Anglian and some national artists contributed, donating a generous commission on sold work to the fundraising.

Belinda with the help of friends, raised a phenomenal £100,000 in a weekend and Art For Cure was born.

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The registered charity has to date raised £830,000 through contemporary art exhibitions at Glemham Hall, Somerleyton Hall and ‘She-London’ at Bankside Gallery, next to Tate Modern in London as well as raising money from a challenging sponsored charity bike ride from Vietnam-Cambodia with over 45 riders, covering 450kms in the heat!

The Art For Cure event team and trustees are all voluntary and money raised at the exhibitions is directly channelled to support services for those affected by breast cancer in Suffolk as well as £500,000 already going to specific leading-edge, national, research projects via Breast Cancer Now, the UK’s largest breast cancer charity.

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And running until March 21, the online exhibition BLOOM is raising money for the East Suffolk and North Essex Health Foundation’s (ESNEFT) Blossom Appeal, fundraising towards the final £1.2 million needed for their new state-of-the-art breast cancer unit at Ipswich Hospital due to open in 2022.

Paul Fenton, Director of Estates and Facilities at ESNEFT, said: “It is great news for Suffolk that this build can go ahead. The new centre will be spacious, calming and fit to house state-of-the-art healthcare, and will make such a big difference to our patients”

Belinda and team have not been deterred by Covid-19 restrictions preventing them from staging their physical events in the many beautiful country houses in Suffolk where thousands attend to enjoy a weekend of art, music, dining and outdoor sculpture.

They have forged ahead with adapting online to sell art for the past year and are continuing to raise significant money for the charity.

Belinda says: “Despite all the restrictions we are being faced with preventing our exciting exhibitions in Suffolk private houses and London galleries we are forging ahead with great vigour and determination and have curated now three exhibitions so far online, displaying an incredible selection of art, sculpture and ceramics to buy, widening our network of art lovers nationally and internationally.”

BLOOM has raised everyone’s lockdown spirits with its uplifting theme of botanical art.

Work by Claire Oxley

Work by Claire Oxley - Credit: Art For Cure

Belinda says: “We have loved seeing the diversity of artists interpreting this theme from abstract works by Kim Baker, Claire Oxley’s’ modern landscapes of East Anglia, vases of beautiful spring flowers from the Instagram sensation Lia and Mum, Maria Fletcher (alias, ever-popular Walberswick colourist Sarah Muir Poland and funky, vibrant paintings from the owner of Gallery Thea in Southwold. Belinda’s talented Mother, Shirley Temple has contributed a beautiful collection of six floral pieces based upon nostalgic memories from the past. There are very affordable screen prints for the young collector from Helen Rawlinson’s Cow Parsley meadows and reed beds and Aldeburgh-based creative, Henri Villiers’ modern, neon flower heads.”

Lia and Maria Fletcher

Lia and Maria Fletcher - Credit: Art For Cure

Keen to include some of Suffolk’s finest ceramicists, the team feel very privileged to have a specially designed and made collection from renowned porcelain artist, Sophie Cook who works from her studio in Bawdsey, who sells her stunning porcelain vessels and vases internationally.

Porcelain work by Sophie Cook

Porcelain work by Sophie Cook - Credit: Art For Cure

Steven Will, a potter who works from his studio near Orford is contributing much-coveted work of multi-bloom, earthy vases, which so clearly reflect his passion for the natural coastline nearby.

Kate Reynolds, a regular exhibitor at Art For Cure’s exhibitions, has created a stunning range of ceramic platters and wall pieces to inspire flora and fauna!

Photography has become an increasing popular buy at Art For Cure’s exhibitions and they are delighted to have work from the multi-talented stylist, photographer and Qigong practitioner Christina Wilson who will be selling her delicate botanical watercolours and archival giclee printed botanical photographs and card gift sets.

Nick Crocker is the skilled curator of sculpture at Art For Cure and has arranged an inspired collection from leading Suffolk sculptors including feature garden metalwork sculptures from RHS medal winner Paul Richardson, petal-shaped fire-pits from Kit Agnew and the ever-popular best-selling Bulrushes from Nigel Kaines, a metal designer from West Suffolk.

Work by Nigel Kaines

Work by Nigel Kaines - Credit: Nigel Kaines

For the first time Art For Cure is running a programme of creative masterclasses – book online on the Art For Cure website to see a demonstration from a skilled, professional artist or join in with the family for an afternoon of art and fun.

The charity is developing their range of popular exhibition gifts and once again their loyal supporter Pauline Bickerton, alchemist and owner of Loggique natural products has created for them a set of bath oils based upon the Japanese Cherry Blossom scents, alongside her best-selling, fragrant, non-toxic English Garden scented candles, created last year for Art For Cure. Six of the team’s favourite paintings have been made into an A5 set of gift cards and they have launched too a new range for BLOOM of botanically printed deckchairs, made in the UK to brighten any garden, which are available on their website.

Another way to help raise money for the charity is to enter into their BLOOM Prize Draw.

With more than 20 floral-themed prizes, with a £10 ticket there is a chance of owning a Jelly Green Iris painting, a handmade necklace in sterling silver made by silversmith and Suffolk-based jeweller Alex Munroe, attend a personalised ‘Fisher’s Gin Experience’ with up to six friends at their Crag Path, Aldeburgh, beachside distillery followed by lunch at the Brudenell Hotel or a one-to-one garden consultation from one of the county’s leading garden designers, Catharine Howard.

These are just some of the fantastic, floral-themed big draw BLOOM prizes to be won.

You only need one ticket to be a winner in the cyber-random final draw on Sunday March 21 at 8pm.

Work by Christina Wilson

Work by Christina Wilson - Credit: Art For Cure

It is amazing how one person’s battle with breast cancer has evolved into one of the country’s most inspiring and successful art charities, raising money towards a better future for the shocking one in seven women (and some men) who face a breast cancer diagnosis in their lives, here in the UK.

Says Belinda: “I am so proud to work with so many dedicated incredible people in the team, artists and event volunteers who are all giving up so much of their time and energy to help towards our fundraising and a brighter future for those affected by breast cancer. It is very tough undergoing treatment, mentally and physically and coping with your life again after treatment and we feel very privileged at Art For Cure to have the chance to fundraise and help make a difference to so may people. So please enjoy our BLOOM exhibition and if you can contribute in some way, we will be so grateful.”

All details are on the website

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