This autumn a very special collection of paintings will be exhibited at the Whitworth Art Gallery.
Each painting has been put together by celebrated local artist Justin Eagleton, themed around Manchester’s vibrant history, culture and community.
Each piece showcases different facets of the city, and is named after the iconic bee that represents it.
The pieces will be auctioned, with all proceeds going to Maggie’s Manchester to support people living with cancer.
Maggies is situated opposite The Christie Hospital and provides support for those living with cancer, along with their family and friends.
We spoke to artist Justin Eagleton, who created the pieces, and told us about how the exhibition came about.
He said: “Two years ago, I created a piece of artwork to auction for ‘Maggie’s on the Runway’ and Maggie’s board member and now friend, Margo Cornish bought it after fighting off fierce competition from other bidders. We decided that because there was so much interest in this one piece that we should create some more and arrange another auction so that’s what we did!”
“Each piece was funded by the ambassadors and the board at Maggie’s then The Whitworth got on board!”
The Whitworth support Maggie’s Cancer work with art therapy sessions and art for wellbeing.
Justin continued: “It all snowballed quite nicely and has ended up with an exhibition at The Whitworth which is crazy!
“I didn’t know about Maggies until 3 years ago. My dad died of Cancer in 2019 and that was a big turning point for me.
“He went through the Christie for a year or two. At that point, I didn’t know Maggies existed – I wish I had as itt would have made such a huge difference to our family with the environment and support they offer.
“When you’re having treatment at the Christie there are a lot of times when people go with someone else for support and they just have to sit about in the waiting room.
“Maggies is there to support people who need somewhere to go if they are at the Christie or going through treatment. Sometimes it can be a scary, so you can pop into Maggies, and hear from people who are professional and know everything about the cancer process.
“They make the hardest of times manageable.
“It’s a place where I could go now and have a cup of tea with them and sit and read a book. You don’t need an appointment you can just go in and enjoy the space.
“They’ve got money advice, therapy, counselling, anything you could need.
“The staff are amazing. It’s like having a warm hug.”
Each work of art is original, and no prints will be available except for ‘Bee There’ which captures the essence and beauty of the Maggie’s Centre. ‘Bee There’ will not be auctioned and instead have pride of place in the centre itself.
Margo Cornish, from Maggie’s said: “We are thrilled to be working with Justin a local, up and coming talented artist. Art therapy plays a huge part in our creative programmes at Maggie’s, helping our visitors work through emotions, as well as providing a sense of wellbeing and relaxation.
All the money raised by the auction will go directly to our centre next to the Christie Hospital so we can continue this valuable support.”
Robin Muir, Maggie’s Manchester Centre Head, said: “We are so excited about the collection and working with The Whitworth. Art is an important part of our relaxed, uplifting environment here at Maggie’s, and one of the ways we support people emotionally is through art therapy.
“So this feels a perfect way to raise funds, which will go a long way to helping people living with cancer.”
Justin told us a bit about what his artworks are all about.
He said: “All of my works sort of have a cheesy bee title. The Idea is that the BEE is the centre of every picture surrounded by an ever changing Mancunian landscape.
“For this I’ve hand painted a bee over a background with various things related to Manchester including football, theatre, diversity and I’ve created collages with different references to the different themes.
“As an addition to the artwork, we’re getting as many people who are featured in each piece to sign them too.
“We’ve got Pep Guardiola, Sir Alex Ferguson, Brian Cox and we’ve got a load of amazing scientists from the University of Manchester who’ve signed it too.
The exhibition will be open from 11th -17th November.
For opening times and details about the Whitworth please visit the gallery’s website by clicking here.