How the Arts Can Help Beat Breast Cancer

Belinda Gray, founder of the Suffolk-based, national charity Art for Cure, reveals how artwork can help bring communities together and raise money for a great cause. She also tells us more about their new online art exhibition Blue Sky, which launched on 30 April 2021, and how you can get involved.

Lead image: Figurative art by Henrietta Dubrey (courtesy of Art for Cure)

Why are the arts a great way to help raise money for charity?
Art helps bring people together from all walks of life. It’s a powerful way to promote positivity and through the commission of sold art, is an amazing way to fundraise. I’ve had the chance to work with many inspiring, talented artists – the exhibitions are a great way for us to promote local East Anglian artists and national art treasures.

How did Art for Cure begin?
My first exhibition was at my home in Suffolk, where I worked with a collection of 50 artists and sculptors, choosing pieces I liked. I had just spent a year being treated for breast cancer, undergoing operations, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I was so thankful to find my cancer was treatable, and during my recovery, felt compelled to do something positive for future breast cancer research. To my amazement, over 2,000 people attended the exhibition, and we raised over £100,000 in one weekend from the sale of art and sculpture.

That’s when I realised what a difference we could make, and from there the charity grew and became nationally registered. We’ve held exhibitions at beautiful stately homes in Suffolk; Glenham Hall and Somerleyton Hall, at the coastal Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh, and Bankside Gallery in London.

The Blue Sky exhibition will be our eighth show. Art for Cure now has over 150 volunteers, is a non-for-profit charity, and has donated almost one million pounds to breast cancer research and support services.

What does the money go towards?
In my earlier years, I was a palliative care nurse in London and using insight from my treatment and aftercare, I understand what services and community support can help people with breast cancer cope.

We try to meet with professors and their research teams to learn more about their projects and how our donations can be most effectively used. We have supported several leading-edge projects at Breast Cancer Now’s Research headquarters in London who have made great research advancements in the last few years.

Our donations also go towards helping the brilliant NHS breast cancer care teams in Suffolk, to develop local services including funding counselling and support groups

What are the benefits of holding an art exhibition online?
More people can join us as they don’t need to travel, our artists’ work can reach a global audience, and we can spread our message further and raise even more money. Because of Covid-19, we hosted our event online last year, which proved extremely popular and raised over £150,000.

‘We have supported several leading-edge projects at Breast Cancer Now’s Research headquarters in London who have made great research advancements in the last few years’

What’s on show at the Blue Sky exhibition?
The exhibition will showcase the work of over 100 national artists, sculptors, photographers and ceramicists, and is a celebration of vitality, colour, energy and freedom.

Explore sculptures from leading UK sculptors: Carol Peace, John O’Connor, Dawn Conn, and Kate Reynolds. Sample Richard Heeps’ limited-edition photography, international ceramicist, Sophie Cook’s collection of porcelain vessels, and Elly Wall’s delicate hand-thrown vases.

Natasha Kumar reveals her tranquil Tibetan monk Charika series featuring hand-drawn screen prints painted in 22ct gold, and Henrietta Dubrey returns with her iconic, abstract female portraits. British printmaker Jane Human shares her contemplative paintings and collages of the East Anglian landscape while Jacqueline Pooley debuts her new collection of ceramic, wall-hanging flatfish.

It promises to be an eclectic unveiling of some of the best artists working in the UK at the moment. The Blue Sky exhibition will be a truly immersive online experience. You’ll get to know the artists and explore their pieces through expert videography and photography. Art-lovers can discover unique and mesmerising pieces, grow their art collection and help towards the fundraising of this dynamic charity.

How can I find art online?
You can join the exhibition by logging onto our website at 6pm on 30 April-30 May 2021. There will also be a Great Create Experiences online auction and a brilliant raffle full of donated original artworks from artists in the show.

Visit artforcure.org.uk to find out more, follow them on Facebook and Instagram or sign up for their exhibition newsletter. To get involved email belinda@artforcure.org.uk

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