When Whitstable artist, Josephine Harvatt, went shopping last Christmas she had no idea that something was about to happen that would take over her whole life for the next year. In the car park at Sturry Retail she saw what she thought was a bundle of rags until she looked closer and recognised that it was a young man sleeping rough on the kerbside.
Josephine, a fine artist who has sold and exhibited nationally and internationally since graduating from art school in 1996, was both horrified and saddened, but instead of just going home and feeling depressed, she decided she would try and do something to help. She applied for a grant for materials from Canterbury City Council and set to work, using her skills as a painter.
The result was her “GIVE THEM SHELTER” fundraising exhibition; a series of fifty individual paintings on the same theme: a house in a landscape, all of which were on show from 22nd November to the 5th December in a special installation in the reception area of The Horsebridge Arts Centre Whitstable.
“Each painting is unique and unrepeatable just as every person is unique and unrepeatable”, Josephine explains. “Too often we think of homeless people as being all the same, but each person has their own story, and they all need help.”
Josephine still has the last few paintings available, details of how to purchase one are on her website here
The paintings which measure 15cm x 15 cm on deep canvas and are ready to hang, are on sale for £50 each, with all proceeds to be divided between charities, Catching Lives and Porchlight, that help the homeless and rough sleepers in Kent.
Buyers will receive a certificate of authenticity and donation, and Josephine explains “If you can’t decide which painting you want – or if it has already gone – I have also produced an A3 commemorative poster that shows all fifty paintings and costs only £5.
James Duff, Trustee of Catching Lives said of the upcoming exhibition, “We appreciate the effort made by Josephine Harvatt to highlight the issues of homelessness and to fundraise at the same time. As a local community charity we receive little statutory funding and survive on people like Josephine to help us fund our day centre and winter night shelter. We are delighted that Josephine has had success from her project, raising awareness of the issues that affect those we see on our streets everyday and also generating an amazing £1700 , £850 of which will come to Catching Lives.”