Rock legend Ronnie Wood, Westlife’s Mark Feehily, singer Brian Kennedy, fashion designers Don O’Neill and Paul & William Costelloe, folk singer Mary Black, actress Norma Sheahan, and ‘The Voice’ Eimear Quinn amongst stellar line-up of artists
One of Ireland’s top fashion designers, Helen Steele, along with a collection of some of the country’s leading artists, were picture-perfect as they got in the frame yesterday to launch Incognito 2023, Ireland’s most mysterious online art sale in aid of the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation. What makes Incognito so special is that prospective buyers have absolutely no idea who the artist is behind their favourite postcard-sized artwork until the collection has sold out, and the artists are revealed.
The Incognito 2023 sale takes place on Wednesday, April 26, and the collection of almost 3,000 original pieces of postcard-sized art, by over 1,000 artists, will is available to view now on www.incognito.ie. Interested purchasers are being strongly advised to register, view the collection, and create their Wish List of their top ten artworks in order of preference ahead of the sale, so as not to miss out on securing their favourites.
Helen Steele was joined at the launch by figurative and landscape artist Ruthie Ashenhurst, painter and sculptor Mick O’Dea, screen printer and portrait artist Emily McGardle, along with painters Julianne Guinee and Zsolt Basti, in the elegant surroundings of The Wilde Iconic Offices at Merrion Square, Dublin, which houses works from some of Ireland’s best-loved artists.
Jessica and Gary Heffernan from Blanchardstown, Co. Dublin, were also in attendance at the Incognito launch, together with their son Aaron (age 5), who receives in-home nursing care from Jack and Jill, and his big sister Megan (age 9). Aaron is one of 405 children currently under the care of Jack and Jill in communities across Ireland. The family were accompanied at the launch by Jack and Jill Liaison Nurse Manager, Saundra Nolan.
Other superstars who have submitted original artworks for Incognito 2023 include rock legend Ronnie Wood, Westlife’s Mark Feehily, singer Brian Kennedy, fashion designers Don O’Neill and Paul & William Costelloe, folk singer Mary Black, actress Norma Sheahan, and ‘The Voice’ Eimear Quinn.
Among the established artists taking part this year are Mo Kelly, Maser, Una Sealy RHA, Sylvia Parkinson Brown, Abigail O’Brien, Peter Curling, Fergus Martin and Martin Gale.
Now in its seventh year, Incognito has raised over €860,000 to date to support Jack and Jill families, equating to 51,025 hours of in-home nursing care and respite support. Jack and Jill is hoping that funds generated in 2023 will bring the total amount raised through this impactful art initiative to an incredible €1 million.
Art is ME!
Fashion designer and artist, Helen Steele, has been a veteran of Incognito for five years now. For Helen, who has ADHD, art and doodling were her way of navigating successfully through school as a child:
“Jack and Jill, and the work that it does is a cause so close, I think, to every parent’s heart. Our family had a meningitis scare when my youngest was three weeks’ old, and my middle child was in intensive care for a few days after she was born. Thankfully everything worked out for both of them, but they remind me of how lucky I am to have children who are healthy.
“As for where my love of art spring from did, well it’s something that’s always been part of me. Simply put, art is ME. I have ADHD and drawing as a kid was an amazing way of getting me to concentrate. In fact, my mum used to give me colouring pencils the whole way through junior school, so I didn’t get into trouble! I think the art world has endured an element of snobbery and over-intellectualism that is destructive to the essence of art. Art is in the eye of the beholder and taste is something very personal. It’s really important that art should be accessible to everyone and Incognito is a super way of doing that.”
Jessica Heffernan, mum to Aaron (age 5) from Blanchardstown, who is supported by Jack and Jill, commented:
“They say it takes a village to raise a child and, in our case, a whole community of care has wrapped around Aaron and our family. Aaron had an extreme hypoxic episode due to a lack of oxygen to his brain at birth and, as a result, was having seizures. His prognosis was very poor.
But he is a determined little fighter and, despite all the odds stacked against him, we got to bring him home and, almost six years later, and with the support of Jack and Jill, he is thriving. I am so proud of all he has achieved. We are delighted to support the Incognito art campaign for Jack and Jill and want to say thank you to all of the fabulous artists who have given their talent and time to support families like ours.”
Lucinda Hall has been the curator of Incognito since 2017. So, what are the most popular artworks?
“While there is much about Incognito for which I am sworn to secrecy, I can reveal that artworks featuring farm animals are among the most sought-after. Cows are always hugely popular, followed by pigs, hens and even goats! Of course, there’s something to suit everyone’s taste and, every year, thankfully, has been a sell-out success.
I can honestly say that the standard this year is the best I’ve seen since I started working on Incognito and our artists really have gone the extra mile. I do think that if people have ever been intrigued by art, but felt a little out of their comfort zone, at €65 an artwork, Incognito is the perfect way to get a collection started. Whether by a renowned artist, or an up-and-coming talent, one thing’s for sure, you’ll have selected a piece that you’ve already fallen in love with.”
For Carmel Doyle, CEO of the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation, Incognito is so much more than the price of the art itself – it’s the difference it makes to people’s lives:
“Incognito is a such a colourful initiative and is hugely loved by a loyal fan base that has been built up over the past seven years. For me, Incognito taps into the talent and generosity of a wonderful community of artists willing to turn their art into a currency for care. Each work of art purchased is valuable, not only in its own right, but also for the hours of in-home nursing it funds for children with highly complex and life-limiting medical conditions. It is great to see so many artists rallying to support local Jack and Jill families and demonstrating what real community spirit means.”