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UEL Fine Art students raise £10,000 at annual auction

UEL students

Well-known artists contributed pieces along with university staff and students

When famed Young British Artist Gavin Turk begins whipping up sales at your auction by picking up the gavel, you know it’s going to be a successful night.

With Mr Turk’s help, the University of East London’s fine art students had one of their most successful fundraisers ever on Wednesday, with around 110 works bringing in £10,000 at the students’ annual fine art auction at the Cock ‘n’ Bull Gallery in Shoreditch. 

“We were trying to shrink the event down, but everyone we asked to donate pieces said yes so it became a marathon session, “ said Fine Art Programme Leader Alexis Harding.

“It’s a chance to ask people who have a connection with east London and beyond to contribute. It’s a kind of oddball, special, one-night-outside-the-art-world event. There’s a real spirit of generosity.”

Proceeds from the show will help pay for the students’ fine art degree show later in the year.

Mr Turk took over as auctioneer when the night’s designated ringleader, Richard Strange of 1970s punk band Doctors of Madness, needed a break from the action, which lasted nearly five hours. Mr Turk’s own donation to the auction – a rose gold ‘Bitten Biscuit’ necklace – brought in £600, the night’s second highest bid. 

A wood and oil-on-canvas piece by Turner Prize nominee Angela de la Cruz was the night’s highest-selling work, going for £2,300.

A number of other well-known artists contributed to the show, including Richard Wilson, Grenville Davey, Geraldine Swayne, Phil Allen and Danny Rolph. UEL staff and students also donated pieces.  

“It’s a very important showcase for us as students to show our work amongst work with more renowned artists,” said Hilary Kennett, a fine art student who helped organise the show.

The £10,000 raised at this year’s auction was significantly more than last year’s total of around £6,000.

Grace Mitchell, marketing manager for the Cock ‘n’ Bull, said the auction was an amazing event for the gallery, which donates the space to UEL.

“We have a lot of exhibitions running all of the time, but this is just a really, really cool one,” she said. “Students come in and take over for one week.

“I think it’s an amazing thing to be able to do while you’re at university."