What do you get when you cross a Kaiser Chief with a bottle of Pinot Noir, Joanna Lumley with classical music and Coldplay with abstract, minimalist art? Art in a Box, of course!
Unleashing their considerable creative talents in support of London-based charity Upbeat Music, fourteen famous names from the worlds of music, comedy and sport have come together to produce original paintings to sell at auction.
The participating artists include Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, Kaiser Chief lead singer and The Voice star Ricky Wilson a, the eternally upbeat Joanna Lumley, comedy supremo Paul Whitehouse, and the irrepressible Suggs. Before their work goes under the hammer at London’s RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) on 20th June, the paintings will be brought together for a group exhibition at the Store Street Gallery, opening on 19th May.
The Art in a Box name derives from the fact that each of the artists – who also include Blur lead guitarist and singer-songwriter Graham Coxon, 1960s icon Grace Slick and Elton John’s longterm collaborator and lyricist, Bernie Taupin – received a bespoke wooden art containing everything they needed to create up to three paintings. With many of the group already having an eye for visual art, the project has produced an eclectic mixture of self portraits, clever triptychs and artistic license, notionally inspired by the theme ‘upbeat’. Notable efforts include TV star Leigh Francis (aka Keith Lemon) depicting himself as superman flying across a double canvas and a series of zombies, skeletons and aliens by prolific comedian and author Charlie Higson. Even Paul Whitehouse, who perhaps has the least previous artistic experience, was confident enough to refer to his completed abstract painting as a ‘masterpiece’, having gone through several incarnations of calling it ‘hypocrisy’.
Money raised from Art in a Box will fund the work of Upbeat Music, an innovative mental health charity that supports peoples’ route to rehabilitation and community reintegration through music creation. Working with clients referred from the NHS and other clinical bodies, Upbeat run extensive musical workshops, teaching skills such as playing the guitar, singing and song writing, as well as organizing live events and open mic evenings. The charity’s approach aims to establish a sense of community among its clients, to offer renewed focus and to provide a potential route to professional application in suitable cases. Originating in Camden, Upbeat’s strong reputation within the UK music scene is one reason the charity has been able to draw on such a strong list of celebrities to support its work.
The participating artists are: Sir Ian Botham; Graham Coxon; Leigh Francis; Charlie Higson; Robyn Hitchcock; Joanna Lumley; Chris Martin; Grace Slick; Suggs; Jordan “Rizzle” Stephens; Bernie Taupin; Louis Vause; Paul Whitehouse; Ricky Wilson.
Go to www.eazl.co.uk/art-in-a-box to view the paintings and take part in the auction by placing advance bids.
You can learn more about the charity and their work at www.upbeatmusic.org