By Carmel Hayes
ARTISTS from Laois will auction their work this month to raise vital funds for very ill children.
A total of 17 artists from the county are among over 1,200 Irish and international names taking part in the Incognito 2021 online art sale, in aid of the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation.
Among the Laois artists donating their work free of charge are Claire Lee from Vicarstown, Mike Rafter and Catherine Brennan from Portlaoise and Mary Slevin from Portarlington.
The annual sale is intriguing as the identity of the artists behind the paintings, which have a price tag of €60 each, is kept top secret until the sale has closed.
The art collection is live at www.incognito.ie and the sale will start at 10am on Thursday 22 April.
Some of the famous national and international faces taking part this year are U2’s The Edge, rock star Bob Geldof, fashion designer Paul Costelloe, comedians Jason Byrne and Tommy Tiernan, artist Don Conroy and Nobel prize winner Dr William Campbell.
The Incognito collection is made up of 3,000-plus original postcard-sized artworks in a range of mediums, from oils and pastels to glass and metalwork, in a sale that is usually a sprint to the checkout. Everything sold out last year in just 15 minutes.
Since it began five years ago, Incognito has raised almost €450,000 for Jack & Jill’s home nursing care for children with highly complex medical conditions, including end-of-life care. This equals more than 28,000 hours of specialist home nursing care provided by Jack & Jill nurses and carers throughout Ireland, including Laois.
Curator Lucinda Hall said: “We are so very grateful to each of our artists from Laois who have shared their talents with us and given their art for free. It is a huge tribute to their generosity of time and spirit, following what has been an extremely difficult period for the arts world.”
According to Jack & Jill chief executive Carmel Doyle, the Foundation has to raise over €4 million a year to continue helping families to look after their sick children at home. Less than 20 per cent of the funding comes from government.
She said: “With Covid-19 continuing to restrict our public-facing fundraising and our charity shops still closed, including our shop in Portlaoise, we are relying hugely on the generosity and support of the public for Incognito 2021.
Each piece sold translates into almost four hours of specialist home nursing care for local children, turning this beautiful art into a real currency for care.”