Jeff Koons’s work helps art auction raise over £45,000 for Hackney school green plans

“Art For Air” live art auction. Pic: Deniza Primbet

A one-off art auction that featured Jeff Koons’s artwork helped raise over £45,000 to build green spaces at a local school in Hackney and raise awareness of air pollution and its impact on children.

Art for Air is an online auction that also featured a live auction at a local art gallery on May 9 and was organised by the parent-teacher association of Queensbridge Primary School. The online auction was launched on April 25 and ended yesterday.

All proceeds will go towards the Green Queensbridge Playground Project 2019 that will oversee renovations of the playground at the primary school to accommodate for more plants such as new trees and living walls to combat pollution.

Art for Air received considerable support from various local artists, with over 100 artists donating over 150 art pieces, some of which are estimated to be worth more than several thousand pounds sterling.

Participants included both notable and local artists such as Jeff Koons, PureEvil, RobRyan, Patrick Caulfield, Joe Tilson, as well as Bokani Tshidzu, a Master of Fine Arts student from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Jeff Koons ‘Split Rocker’ snow globe; Pic: Art For Air

Koons’s miniature sculpture of a snow globe was donated anonymously and was sold to a lucky bidder for £1,185.

The piece was initially produced for the “La Beauté in Fabula” exhibition in France.

The members of the PTA that organised the event are all parents from Queensbridge Primary School that donated their time and efforts despite having regular daytime jobs.

Claire Brossard, one of the members of the PTA that took charge of PR and social media for the fundraiser, told Eastlondonlines: “We couldn’t think of a better place to host an art auction.

“Hackney is an artist hub, everywhere you look there are so many artists. They were all so happy to help,” she added.

In addition to donating art, two notable artists – Nathan Bowen and Harry Blackmore – visited Queensbridge Primary School and collaborated on a street art piece located right outside the school.

The idea for the art auction was made in December 2018 by Dana Nayak, the co-founder of Green Queensbridge Project and an active member of the PTA. The event took place five weeks ago.

Nayak told ELL: “The money received from the events is going towards the amazing cause of improving the air quality and green facilities for a whole school community.”

“The young children at Queensbridge play on a playground that faces a busy street and has twice the permitted level of pollution during peak travel times,” she added.

Closed roads and displaced traffic are the reasons why the school playground has suffered from air pollution. The school is also currently struggling to find its own funds for the renovation.

Since the launch of the project, Art for Air has managed to raise three times more than their initial goal of £10,000.

The live auction, which took place last Thursday at The Old Bank Vault in Hackney, helped promote the online auction and raised over £6,000 in a single night.

A selection of refreshments and snacks at the auction. Pic: Deniza Primbet

On the day of the live auction, guests were welcomed with a selection of soft drinks and spirits, as they networked before the start of the bidding on affordable artwork. As the evening was coming to an end, guests had to option to take part in a raffle with an entry cost of just £2 to win some of the gallery’s finest pieces.

Sim Takhar, the owner of the Old Bank Vault, agreed to host a live auction after she was approached by Nayak, a PTA member at Queensbridge and one of the founders of the project.

Takhar was “delighted and honoured” to offer her gallery as a venue to host the event.

“An opportunity like this was brought to my door and gave me a chance to do something that can benefit the local community. We can all do more.

“As a member of a community, I believe that air pollution is an issue that needs to be addressed. What the women of the PTA have achieved by bringing this event together is amazing,” she added.

The live auction was not the first time the gallery participated in a charitable cause. For their first anniversary, they held an event that sold art and donated a percentage of the earnings to local charities, something they are likely to repeat this year for their second anniversary.

Green Queensbridge has plans to hold more fundraising events for its project, with children volunteering to run the last part of the Hackney Half Marathon for charity, which will take place on May 19.

They will also partner up with the London Fields Jumble Trail on June 8, a ‘car boot sale’ where participating stalls will have the chance to donate their earnings towards the Green Queensbridge Playground Project.

The donations for the project close on June 30, if you wish to contribute please visit their website by clicking here.

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