20 years ago Anna Rains was volunteering at the Hospice. She tells us how the Art Fair started.
Raise £300,000 in a year was the brief in 1999. The Hospice desperately needed to build a new Day Care centre as the one small room wasn’t enough for the patients who needed it. So a group of volunteers set about it.
I suggested an art exhibition and phoned an artist friend, Liz Taylor Webb, mentored by Lowry. “Would she exhibit?” “Yes” she said doubtfully – ‘who else is exhibiting?” “That is my next question", I said, "Who do you know?!”
We launched some outstanding new artists into very successful careers. Lou Moore, then living in a damp cottage, brought her work – it flew off the walls. Lou Gardiner, a totally extraordinary machine embroiderer, was snapped up by discerning buyers – wish I had invested in her work back in those days! We even had a signed print donated by HRH the Prince of Wales. Later Jenny Hurst and Di Metcalfe and others joined the ranks of international artists.
We started something which was only going to be a one-off art fair, but has become a tradition and a major part of the Hospice’s important resources. One simple idea has now contributed some £600k to the Hospice. I'm delighted to see how it has grown and developed. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year is a very special occasion and I'm proud to still be part of it.