On 3 October 2017, Shape Arts hosted a benefit exhibition and sale at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden. The event was a one-off fundraiser that saw several high-profile artists donating their artwork in support of the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary, Shape’s flagship programme for mid-career artists named in honour of the sculptor who passed away in 2005. Adam Chabbi reports from the event.
There was a buzz throughout the evening, as attendees came to discover the unique talents on offer from a range of established artists. These included paintings, sculptures and art objects to prints which varied in price, with some auctioning at over £5,000. The sales will raise money for the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary, with the selected recipient winning £10,000 and a residency at Pallant House Gallery.
Anish Kapoor was among the artists to donate their work for the event. Kapoor is known to many for his exhilarating sculptures and is highly influential in the art world. His work consists of enormous PVC skins, with bowl-shaped mirrors whose reflections have grabbed the public imagination. The artist was born in Mumbai, India in 1954 and awarded a CBE in 2003. His famous projects include Cloud Gate in Chicago, USA.
Christian Furr, known for experimenting in different forms, is another one of the artists who donated work at the event. Furr is a British artist who uses a range of different influences to inspire his work. These include mixing in lyrics from a bands like The Doors and using sections of Rumi poetry. He is perhaps most recognised for his commission to paint Queen Elizabeth II at only 28 years old.
David Hevey, Chief Executive of Shape Arts, expressed what the artists saw in the bursary to make them display their art here: “Adam Reynolds was a great artist and known in the art world. When he died, he was written about in The Independent. So, a lot of artists knew of his pioneering work.”
Hevey further describes the organisation’s goals in helping disabled artists become more recognised to the public. “I think Shape does create an environment, where people understand you must remove barriers for disabled talent to flourish.” Hevey believes that disabled artists cannot be expected to overcome barriers alone, and sees the bursary as great foot up for the winning artist. “Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary is quite a turbo charger for a career and if you are lucky enough to win it, it can take your career to great heights.”
Lulu Nunn, PR and Marketing Officer for Shape Arts, shared her views regarding what she thought artists saw in the bursary to donate their work. “A surprising amount of big name artists know Adam from when they were emerging. Adam did a lot of work to support emerging artists through his gallery, and also to support disabled artists like himself.”
I ask Nunn what the support of all of these established artists means for Shape.
“Getting big-name artists to back the ARMB means a great deal to us – it means that we are having our causes acknowledged by the wider sector and the mainstream. It’s great to see that we have so many supporters in the arts sector and beyond, who are really keen to see us succeeding. It’s not just kudos that we need but rather financial support through funding and donations”.
Nunn goes onto explain how Shape Arts nurtures disabled talent. “We get a lot of artists who come in to Shape at a sort of low level. We work with them to develop their careers. To promote their activities through our site.”
Barnaby Barford, one of the donating artists took the time to discuss why he wanted to support the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary. “I first met the CEO of Shape Arts this time last year, where they told me about what they do. They do really great work and the more diversity in the arts, the better.”
This one-off event was a special opportunity to raise money and awareness for a fantastic programme which supports mid-career disabled artists. 12 years after Adam Reynold’s untimely departure, his spirit lives on, and his ethos continues to influence the visual arts sector.