ANNUAL ART AUCTION Saturday 14 November – Report



Centrepieces' 15th auction had an encouraging response from the residents of Dartford.

The busy auction space in the Orchards Shopping Centre.

On Saturday 14 November, The Orchards Shopping Centre in Dartford played host to Centrepieces’ 15th annual auction. As in previous years, the object was to raise money for the artists who are members of the charity, as well as increase funds to help keep the organisation running.

On a wet but busy pre-Christmas shopping day, prospective buyers were invited into an auction space set up in one of the Shopping Centre’s vacant shops. There they found a very professionally laid out registration desk, 100+ framed pieces of artwork, a table of sculpture and some packed information boards about the services and events that Centrepieces offers. The auction had been open since Thursday to receive prior bids and, in a sign of how popular it had been, several had been accepted before Saturday morning.

Centrepieces' Co-ordinator Geoff Norris
with artist Christie Cassisa.
Overall, Centrepieces’ artist Christie Cassisa witnessed a positive response from Dartford residents: ‘I think the public’s imagination opened up as they stood there amongst the artwork, because the part of their minds they would usually be embarrassed about was stimulated. For instance, a few people were artists themselves and they were happy that all these varied artists had a place to present their stuff. From that, there was one woman who’s an artist with a history of mental illness who wants to come and see what Centrepieces is all about.

‘There was one funny moment. I asked one woman “What do you think?” and she was unimpressed until I told her all the work had been done by people with issues like depression and schizophrenia, and then she said “Oh, actually, some of it’s pretty good!” That shows perceptions can change very quickly, from not knowing anything about Centrepieces to being genuinely interested in the charity. That’s very, very important for people who suffer this kind of disability. It’s somewhere they can come where they’re not outsiders. The meeting place and the auction was brilliant for letting people know about us.’

Auctioneer Paul Adams.
When the auction commenced at 12.30 prompt, with most of the 28 buyers’ seats filled, each artist was introduced by the painter Nicole reading out a short biography, all of which were touchingly honest and in some cases very moving. As the porters held up individual artworks, bids (usually above the reserve price) were invited by auctioneer Paul Adams, Chairman of the Disabled Photographers’ Society. After a slow start, Paul’s infectiously enthusiastic personality encouraged a generous response, resulting in 40 pieces of work being sold in just 1 and ½ hours, raising £1,200.

The event was over all too quickly at 2.00pm, but was successful enough to ensure that this year’s Centrepieces auction won’t be the last. Buyers, charity officials, and above all the artists, all went home happy. 

Photographs copyright: Dawn Tomlin

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