Sarah Graham - Samarivans
A little about me… I’m a full-time artist, known for my colourful photorealist oil paintings of toys, sweets and food and all things kitsch. Born in Hitchin in 1977, my 22-year career has established me as a well-known artist in the UK today. Having been commissioned by Kaiser Chiefs (their album cover for ‘Souvenir’ in 2012) Harrods & Standard Chartered Bank, I was also a guest judge on CBBC show Britain’s Best Young Artist. I am studied in schools throughout the UK & around the world, and I was even on the GCSE exam paper in 2015. I also painted a ‘Lord Sugar’ Snowman sculpture for a trail around Hitchin last Christmas, so I’m well known in the town!I also have bipolar disorder, which I am currently in remission from. In the past, during severe episodes of debilitating depression, which resulted in me going into hospital on several occasions, Samaritans provided a lifeline for me. I feel passionately about fundraising to say thank you to such a wonderful charity that has saved my life more than once
I came up with the idea for my fundraiser thanks to Background Bob, a project I myself contributed to. Background Bob is Noah and his dad Nathan Jones. 14-year-old Noah has Hydrocephalus, Epilepsy and Cerebral Palsy, and started painting abstract backgrounds and began by asking street artists they knew to paint on them. He has since collaborated with over 750 artists and celebrities from Grayson Perry to Ed Sheeran! I wondered how could I get all the artists I know to come together creatively & raise money? I’ve been painting camper van stencils for years…I’ll invite artists and creatives to create their own version, have a pop-up exhibition and auction them online. SAMARIVANS was born! Alongside almost 100 artists already, I also have Keith Lemon, Ricky Wilson, Jodie Whittaker and west end star Kerry Ellis on board! I’ll be using a PR company to promote the event and I’m hoping for sponsorship to fund the canvases and other costs. I have Danny Pearson, the Community/Partnerships Ocer from North Herts District Council, on board. He put me in touch with Ilsa Hawtin, Director of North Herts & Stevenage Samaritans, who is over the moon with the idea. She said the following… ‘this is just fantastic news; I can't thank you enough for your brilliant idea for fundraising for Samaritans. Our branch is self-funded, with nearly all funds to keep us in operation raised by our existing volunteers. We are also hoping to move in the not-too-distant future to a larger premises, to enable us to continue to grow and increase the support we provide to all callers (nationally and locally), and we will have to fundraise more than ever to enable that.’ As for me I am now an advocate for mental health, sharing my story to hopefully help and inspire others. I am also a patron of the mental health charity PoetsIN. ‑is fundraiser is another opportunity for me to give back, and I hope help others onto a path of recovery. Samaritans save lives.