Stephen Fry portrait to go under the hammer at Wingfield Barns

A portrait of Stephen Fry by a famous Suffolk artist is expected to be one of the most sought-after lots at a charity auction taking place this week.

The auction, at Wingfield Barns, is being held to support this year's Wingfield Arts Awards – A Celebration of Art in Suffolk Schools.

General manager Lesley Jackson said the awards, which were first held nine years ago, were 'critical' for the county's up-and-coming young talent and that the auction on Friday was the only way the event could be funded this year after Suffolk County Council withdrew its support.

She said: 'As part of the new austerity cuts there is no money for the event this year (from Suffolk County Council).

'That is a massive blow to schools and art departments and, most importantly, the students who, through the awards, get their first taste of competition.'


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She said the auction, which begins at 7.30pm on Friday, would need to raise �5,000 to cover the cost of this year's awards, which are scheduled for October and November.

If the money is not raised then it is unlikely that the awards ceremony will be held this year – or ever again.

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Mrs Jackson said: 'This is our one and only fundraising event for it. It's critical and won't make a difference to our bottom line at Wingfield Barns but it will make a huge difference to the artistic talent in the area.

'My fear is that if we don't keep it going this year it would spell the end – and that would be a travesty.'

The auction features more than 60 lots including ceramics, paintings, exhibition space, art courses, memberships and materials.

The highlight of the Arts Mart catalogue is a signed, mounted, limited edition sketch of comedian Stephen Fry by Maggi Hambling, the internationally-renowned north Suffolk-based artist.

Ms Hambling's most famous work is the iconic Scallop sculpture on Aldeburgh beach.

The lots are available to view from noon on Friday and for more details visit www.wingfieldbarns.com.

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