Interview: Art 4 Africa Exhibition, Private Viewing Weds 5 Sep
Nobody loves a good cause more than us here at Muddy Cambs, so when the opportunity came to talk to the founders of the Art4Africa Exhibition, a local art exhibition held in the private home of Christopher and Amanda Faulkner in aid of the Rise Africa UK charity (founded by their own daughter, Olivia), we jumped at the chance to know more about this inspiring family and this year’s Exhibition. Muddy readers are invited to the exclusive Private Viewing event on Weds 5 September, where you can sip something chilled on the lawn and meander through the myriad of pictures, sculptures, ceramics and jewellery. There will also be a range of gifts on offer and everything for sale comes in at various price points, so shoppers remorse be gone! This is one evening when you can feel positively angelic for whipping out your purse and giving to a great cause.
Christopher and Amanda, welcome to Muddy Cambs! Can you start by telling us, what is Art4Africa all about?
Art4Africa is an exhibition of local and national artists. It was first held in 2016 in order to raise much needed funds for Rise Africa UK as well as providing a forum to promote local artists. The idea originally was to use our home to exhibit a relatively small number of artists. As interest grew we realised that there was a wealth of talent locally and significant interest in the idea. The result was the 2016 Art4Africa exhibition was a huge success. As a result having learnt so much and receiving such positive feedback we decided to run Art4Africa 2018.
How many artists will be exhibiting this year?
A total of 73 Exhibitors, of which 33 are from Cambridgeshire and 18 from Bedfordshire, and over 500 pieces of Art. The exhibition includes work from artists, potters, jewellers, sculptors (indoor and garden), stone carvers and textile artists.
How does the money raised at the exhibition help children in Africa?
100% of the money raised at Art4Africa is spent in Tanzania to the benefit of the 80 disadvantaged children that Rise Africa UK sponsor and their family groups. This includes paying for the children’s schooling, to include books, uniform, shoes and meals. The money is also used towards a number of projects aimed at supporting the family groups, for example the building of a chicken house and the provision of milking goats.
What is your ethos as a charity?
Rise Africa UK is committed to helping children from very poor families in Tanzania to receive a quality education and be given the opportunity to make a real change to their future and escape a life of poverty. The children Rise Africa helps would otherwise not be able to attend school and would end up on the streets. Rise Africa UK sponsors children to go to private quality schools, where they receive a quality education with small class sizes, dedicated teachers and a wide variety of classes such as art, sports and computer studies. They also receive two meals a day and are growing in confidence and hope for a brighter future. It is vital to Rise Africa as a charity that 100% of donations are spent in Tanzania and benefit the children directly, all those that give their time in the UK do it for free as everyone is so passionate about the difference we are trying to make. An education is the most powerful tool.
Running this event must be very rewarding. What would you say you enjoy most?
Art4Africa has created a real community spirit. We have really enjoyed working with our committee all of whom are local and give their time for free. It has also been really enjoyable meeting local artists many of whom have lacked the confidence in their work but were rewarded with sales that exceeded their expectations. As a result, a number of these artists have continued to support Rise Africa UK in various different ways. We were so touched by the response of visitors to the exhibition that made all the hard work worthwhile. In addition we know first-hand the difference the money raised make to these children and their families in Arusha, Tanzania.
Opening your house to the public is a big decision. What prompted you to do it? What challenges did you face?
As trustees of Rise Africa UK we were looking at innovative ways of raising funds. The idea of an Art Exhibition seemed a good one and our home lent itself to the idea. A local charity using a free local venue. The challenge was starting with a committee of 7 people, none of whom had run an Art Exhibition before. We learnt as we went along from cataloguing to invoicing systems to finding artists. The amazing thing was it all worked so well!
How much money did you raise last year and what is your goal this year?
In 2016 we raised £15,000 profit from the event. However, in addition we raised significant awareness of Rise Africa UK and secured a number of ongoing personal sponsorships. So in 2018 we are aiming to raise £25,000 and continue to increase the awareness of Rise Africa UK in the local area.
What has the response been from the local community?
Amazing! it is incredible how the community has come together in support of the charity both in terms of sponsoring children and arranging fund-raising events. Locally there is now an event every month, for example “Meals for Wheels”, a monthly meal group which raises money to buy bicycles for the children or “Right Royal Bash” an event held by a local family to provide milking goats for families of the Rise Africa UK children.
What can we expect from this year’s event?
Art4Africa 2018 will be bigger and better. Many more artists, a “Potters Marquee”, a dedicated gift area including a local jeweller and the same professional visitor experience with a BBQ and Bar open on Saturday and Sunday.In addition, on Wednesday 5th September we are also holding an exclusive private preview evening giving ticket holders an opportunity to be the first to view and purchase the art with a drink and canapes all to the sound of a steel drum band. Tickets are on sale via the website Art4Africa Exhibition Private View Sales
We see a piece of art we like on your walls – what do we do?
Each area at the exhibition has a dedicated volunteer who can help you with information about the artist and will show you how the process works to purchase the artwork. Original artwork purchased at the exhibition can be collected once the exhibition is finished. Unframed prints, pottery, cards and gifts can be taken away at the time of purchase.
Do you have plans for next year, what will the charity be focussing on next?
Art4Africa does not run every year and a decision will be made in 2019 as to its future. With regard to Rise Africa UK the charity will continue to support the education of 80 children and look for projects to support the families of the children, with the current goat project being the top priority. This project aims to provide a milking goat to every family capable of looking after one. We would also like to build a second chicken house following the success of the first chicken project.
How can people get involved in the charity?
People can make a donation, or sponsor a child or they can volunteer their time either in the UK or in Tanzania.
The Art4Africa Exhibition welcome Muddy readers to a private viewing event on Wednesday 5th September 7.30-9.30pm, and tickets are available here
Work featured by the following artists: Angie Collins, Charles Pryor, Hope Anderson, Jane Rhodes, Paul Harvey, Sheila Jackson, Stuart Bush, Agnes Asselin, Lucy Lutyens, Richard Bray, Sharron Barrett
Public viewing Thurs 6-Sun 9 September, 9am-5pm, free