Contemporary Artists discuss the Art on a Postcard Project

A secret charity auction with contributions from major artists and emerging talent

Art on a Postcard raises money for The Hepatitis C Trust through an annual secret postcard auction and ‘postcard lotteries’ which occur throughout the year. In recent years, work has been donated from established artists such as Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Harland Miller, Gavin Turk, Rachel Howard, Gilbert and George, Polly Morgan, John Wragg RA, Stephen Chambers RA, Micheal Craig-Martin and Cecily Brown and emerging talent such as David Shillinglaw, Hayden Kays and Daisy Cook as well as urban artists, Ben Eine, Pure Evil and Inkie and photographers Dougie Wallace and Rankin. The project was founded by Gemma Peppé.

“I’m delighted to be part of this year’s The Hepatitis C Trust’s Art on a Postcard Secret Auction. While the secret auction democratises art, funds raised will help The Trust in its work towards ridding the county of hepatitis C, a killer disease which disproportionally affects an underprivileged community.”

— Grayson Perry

I caught up with some of this year’s artists to ask them about their involvement with the cause, and how they met the challenge set by the project.


Gemma Peppé, founder

Gemma Peppé
Gemma Peppé, founder of Art on a Postcard

How did you come up with the idea for Art on a Postcard?
The whole secret postcard thing isn’t my idea. The RCA have been doing it for years. Myself and a former colleague both come from arty backgrounds and felt we were well enough connected to do our own event. We have a number of different formats in which we run Art on a Postcard and they are all slightly different to the RCA’s.

What exactly is a “secret auction” and how does it work?
All the artworks are anonymous although we circulate a list of the artists taking part prior to the auction. It’s obvious who some of the artwork is by and others are known to a good eye. I’m always impressed with our buyers and how they seem to know exactly what they want and who it’s by.  This year we are doing a web cast live from Bloomsbury Auction House. Buyers will be able to bid at the venue or on-line. Each piece will be auctioned separately so people will be able to register their interest in the artworks they want. As the auction will be a long one we will notify buyers when their lot is coming up. The artwork will be live from 27 October 2016 for commission bids.

Art on a Postcard doesn’t just support artistic talent, but raises money for The Hepatitis C Trust. Could you say a little bit about the charitable foundations of the project?
The Hepatitis C Trust has been through thin times financially in recent times like most other charities. What further impacts The Trust is that we get very few personal donations. The Trust does truly innovative and important work so it’s crucial they get the funding to keep going. At present they are working towards eliminating hepatitis C by the year 2030. Finding a creative way to raise money for the charity was a necessity. This project suits me perfectly I had hepatitis C for 25 years and I have a passion for the arts and spotting/supporting emerging talent as well as working with the more established artists. It’s like Christmas when the cards start arriving in the office for the auction.


Patrick Hughes, artist

Patrick Hughes
Patrick Hughes

When did you get involved with the Art on a Postcard project?
Many years ago Eduardo Paolozzi, the sculptor and printmaker, pro to- Pop artist, said to me in the obviously artistic confines of the Chelsea Arts Club, that he “got asked to to do work for charities every week or two” and he was choosy about who he thought he could help. I replied with amazement that I did get asked, but only twice a year. It has come to pass now that Eduardo has passed away, that I get asked to do something for charity every week or two and there is only so much one can do in the autumn of one’s life and the Hepatitis C Trust is so worthwhile I knew I had to do it.

How did you approach the project’s challenge?
It is just as hard to paint a miniature as a mural, so art on a postcard brings its own problems, of simplicity and scale and readability and technique, I used a collage and watercolour mix. First you think about it, then you do it, you need time for the idea and manner to gel.

Could you say something about the cause that Art on a Postcard supports?
I have had a few friends with hepatitis and I have understood their fears. The treatment has improved so much in recent years, and there is real hope in the future and I am pleased to try to be a tiny part in the thrust to find new strategies to defeat it.

Find out more about Patrick Hughes.


Harriet Horton, artist

Harriet Horton
Harriet Horton

When did you get involved with the Art on a Postcard project?
August 2015.

How did you approach the project’s challenge?
Keeping the postcards anonymous and 2D was initially an issue because my practice uses 3D mediums. I ended up printing the photographs of my pieces onto the cards using some images that aren’t available as larger prints so they’re still originals.

Could you say something about the cause that Art on a Postcard supports?
With all curable viruses and diseases we have a shared responsibility to eliminate them, not just those affected. Art on a Postcard is a great way to do this. Art is a powerful tool to raise awareness and engage conversation.

Find out more about Harriet Horton.


Rowan Newton, artist

When did you get involved with the Art on a Postcard project?
I was first approached last year by friend and artist Benjamin Murphy who was working closely with Gemma Peppé in selecting artists. I very much liked the concept of the exhibition. The idea of all these postcard-size pieces of art on a wall, with no listings, asking the audience to make a blind bid. No preference or special treatment given to any artist, everyone on a level playing field, asking the audience to solely go by what visually appeals to them the most. It’s a great opportunity for people to win a fantastic piece of original art at a very reasonable price, while helping a good cause. It’s a brilliant way for people to donate, and in return have something that they will cherish and love. Something I definitely wanted to be involved in.

“I was looking forward to having to paint on a much smaller scale to the size I normally paint. To test myself, find new techniques and skills to communicate my message.”

How did you approach the project’s challenge?
I was looking forward to having to paint on a much smaller scale to the size I normally paint. To test myself, find new techniques and skills to communicate my message. To learn to express my subject with far fewer brush strokes, but to still capture their essence and mood. I would sit down at my desk in my studio every morning, which is right under a large window, letting the best of the days light in. And each morning would work on a small piece ’til I was happy with two that I wanted to donate. I found I was far braver in taking risks and experimenting with the paint then I normally am with the larger pieces. It felt less intimidating on a small scale to take these risks. As a result I have ended up transferring some of the new techniques I have learned from this process to my much larger paintings.

Could you say something about the cause that Art on a Postcard supports?
What stood out for me when I was first sent the information on this project and what it was about, was the fact that people with Hepatitis C felt as if they should not speak up about it, that they will be discriminated if they do. That its best to just deal with it by themselves and not express how they feel and what’s going with them and their bodies. We are all human, all the same, we should be creating space to let everyone talk about how they are and what is going on with them. I don’t tolerate the idea that anyone should have to keep quiet and deal with things alone. What are we here for if not to help and love one another. This is the real essence of what life is about as an evolved species. It’s not about your cars or clothes, your pay rise or being above anyone else, it’s about helping everyone you can, to be loved and happy. So in turn this was a cause I wanted to be a part of, to help spread that message.

Find out more about Rowan Newton.


The Secret Auction goes live on 27 October 2016. For an illustrated list of this year’s lots, or for more information about the project, visit the Art on a Postcard website.

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