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Artists band together for Ukraine charity auction

Gail Francis-Tiron and Joseph Alecio set up the exhibition. Photo by Johnny Bugeja.

Almost a year after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Gibraltarian artists have banded together again to sell art and raise funds for a Ukrainian charity working to deliver basic aid on the ground.

The exhibition, which opens on Thursday, will see over 100 artworks, both donated and from the vault of the Fine Arts Gallery, up for auction.

All the proceeds are set to be donated to the ‘Free People’s Dream’ charity.

The ‘Artists for Peace’ event was first held last year, organised by Gail Francis-Tiron and John Paul Bautista, and raised £12,000 for Ukraine.

Now the Fine Arts Association along with the aid of Mrs Francis-Tiron hope to recreate the exhibition and raise much needed funds.

On Friday afternoon, Ms Francis-Tiron and member of the Association Joseph Alecio, prepared the gallery ahead of this week’s exhibition.

Mrs Francis-Tiron first decided to aid Ukraine last year after watching television and seeing images of the war.

She described how the artist painting a mural in Ragged Staff had called for peace and she wanted to echo the call.

"I wanted to see if Gibraltar artists could donate works that they haven't sold," she said.

"What tends to happen to artists is that they don't sell all their work, and then it stored which is a shame."

During that first exhibition, she said she received an amazing response, receiving around 140 artworks.

This year the Association approached her to organise the event as they had a store of paintings which had not been collected after exhibitions.

Mr Alecio said the Association asked the artists regarding selling their works in aid of Ukraine and most agreed.

The exhibition has seen paintings taken out of the Fine Arts Gallery vault, with some dating back to 1994, and many others recently painted.

"I was lucky enough to meet a local from Ukraine. She moved to Gibraltar and moved her family down," Mr Alecio.

Mr Alecio said she put the Association in contact with the Free People's Dream charity in Ukraine.

"They help people in territories that have been Russian-occupied in Ukraine and have now been liberated," Mr Alecio said.

"They are come in and take care and help how they can. They donate from basic human needs to nappies, baby food, dog food, whatever people need there, they are going to supply."

He added that the charity supplies fresh water as the Russians are targeting their infrastructure.

The auction will see buyers place their closed bids throughout the week, with the top bidders announced after the close of the exhibition on February 24.

On February 22 there will be an official launch featuring Ukrainian food, and music by Inna Komleva.

The event will be attended by Ukrainians living in Gibraltar and nearby who will give their support to the event.
There will also be a video call with the charity at the launch.

Mrs Francis-Tiron hopes the exhibition will serve as a reminder of the war for Gibraltarians.

“What is important is for people to know that [the war] is not old news,” Mrs Francis-Tiron said.

"People are starting to lose hope because it's going on for too long."

For those who do not wish to buy art, donation boxes will be present throughout the exhibition.

The Artists for Peace exhibition opens at the Fine Arts Gallery on Thursday, February 16, where it will begin taking bids. The launch will be held on February 22, with final bids and closing on February 24.

The Gallery is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm, and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm.

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