Journeys in Hope - reflecting on the Farm Street art auction

John Woodhouse - retired choirmaster, organist, librarian and painter - reflects on the inspiration behind the Farm Street art auction

Two years ago on the Westminster Lourdes pilgrimage the idea of an art auction was born. I duly painted my Lourdes torchlight procession painting (above). I then heard Lord Alf Dubs speak about the appalling conditions in which children were living because they had been denied their lawful right to rejoin their families in the UK. I decided to change the focus of my painting to show the journeys of migrants and refugees. One such painting is 'Unsafe Passage' (below). 

The art exhibition at Mount Street Jesuit Centre in January was essentially a campaign to raise awareness. Seven artists joined me in donating work and the opening was a great success. We definitely got our message across to the many young people present. The three week exhibition culminated in an art auction which raised over £5,500 to be divided between Westminster Lourdes pilgrimage, Age to the Church in Need, and Safe Passage.

My art teacher, Nelson Ferreira, offered to paint portraits as a lot. Jennifer Scott, the Sackler Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery, opened the auction and spoke about the beauty of the work and the profound effect of pictures like 'Syrian Pieta ' (below). She said the painting made her cry and I replied that I had cried while painting it. 

A huge thank you to all who came and bid for paintings, and all who visited and took part in the exhibition. You can find out more on our website where you can see all the work. I am happy that the message about the ongoing tragedies of so many trying to reach Europe have been highlighted.

John Woodhouse