As everyone knows, the art and popular culture market is a fickle one. Often seeming irrational. Why, for example, is George Formby’s banjo-ukelele worth more than Noel Gallagher’s hand-written lyric book? Is ‘Wonderwall’ a lesser achievement than ‘I’m leaning on a Lamp-post?’ Who knows? Obviously, it is very hard to know what determines the value of things. Which is, of course, why auctions are so fascinating and indeed unpredictable. 

On the evening of December 7 this newspaper is holding an Art Auction, at the suitably chic ‘Cactus Hound’ in St Leonards, to raise funds to keep HIP alive. And maybe kicking. (Big thanks to the Cactus – which arguably has some of the best cocktails in St Leonards on Sea) Hastings and St Leonards are brimming with creatives and they have been incredibly generous in offering work for the event. As a result, the auction will feature an exceptionally diverse range of work. In addition to paintings, there will be prints, photo-graphs, drawings, ceramics and sculpture. The auction will have ‘guide prices’ set for each piece, but monetary outcomes are, inevitably, hard to call.

Some of the artists on show are well established names in the Hastings art world. Laetitia Yhap, for example – who has work in the Tate Collection – has a piece up for offer. Her artwork has now become identified with the town; it is figurative in approach, with Hastings fisherfolk and beach-life at its heart. Alan Rankle is another of the town’s leading artistic lights and he is also donating. John Cole is a local photographer who has produced iconic images of world figures, such as Mohammad Ali, and a figure of similar stature appears in the auction. Chris Milton has donated a print that highlights his gift for putting down a searing, and yet somehow witty, line. His piece ‘Pinocchio Pope’ has already generated interest.

Most of the artists on show have, at some point, been featured in HIP. Daisy Clarke and Tom Banks for example have been highlighted recently: both are intriguing painters whose reputations are definitely on the upward trajectory. Russell Baker, from Kino, is a Slade trained and renowned printmaker, and a wonderful painter.  Also on show will be other well established artists, such as Bernard McGuigan and Claudia de Grandi. Martin Bradshaw – who is currently on show at the Hastings Arts Forum – is also donating. There are many more who could be mentioned. Overall, it is an interestingly eclectic mix and it will be intriguing to see how the auction unfolds. It should be a fun evening.

The paper has always sought to support the local art scene, whether it be traditional graphic work, film festivals, rock bands, people’s operas, theatre or even poetry brothels. We all know that most artists are not exactly rolling in cash but, to be honest, the paper has been overwhelmed with the willingness of the bohemian community to donate. 

In many ways, the value of art is not just about the price of it. That would be crass. But, having said that, and putting all subtlety to one side for a moment, this auction may well offer up some smart buys to the discerning eye. 

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