The auction, held at the St Martins Lane Hotel in London’s West End, was capped by the sale of Cheetah Pair II, a bronze sculpture by Dylan Lewis which raised a staggering UK£99,000 (US$127,559). Lewis, a key figure in the contemporary sculpture scene, is one of the few artists alive today that Christie’s in London has given the honour of a solo auction.
Conducted by celebrity auctioneer Nick Stewart, the evening also saw the sale of Phillemon Hlungwani’s Vele ra manana a ri na xilandzo for UK£29,000 (US$37,362). Hlungwani’s impressive charcoal and pastel painting far exceeding its reserve of UK£22,500–UK£27,000 (US$28,989–US$34,791). Another piece to excite bidders was Johannesburg artist Beezy Bailey’s October Avenue, an oil and silkscreen on canvas which went for UK£13,000 (US$16,752).
All the artworks had been donated by the artists themselves, many of whom were in attendance. ‘I want to uplift people’s lives with my art. If one painting can do that, that’s a huge inspiration and makes me want to paint hard and do more, because education is everything in [South Africa],’ said Bailey, whose work is exhibited in several important art collections, including the David Bowie Collection and the Getty Family Collection.
The money raised will go towards funding three beneficiaries. The Good Work Foundation, which in 2012 set up the Hazyview Digital Learning Campus to improve IT literacy among adults; The Click Foundation which is helping to improve English literacy in 70 under-privileged primary schools; and Wildlife ACT which teaches conservation in 17 rural primary schools.