A new Robert Burns painting by celebrated Scottish artist Peter Howson is being used as a unique online fundraiser for the National Trust for Scotland’s Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.
The new painting, which is estimated to be worth £50,000, was launched online through a unique pixel fundraising website, to raise money for the completion of the new £21 million museum which is scheduled to open in summer 2010 in Alloway, Ayrshire, where Burns was born.
The content of the fund-raising painting, which has been photographed and is hosted online at www.howsonburns.com, will be kept secret and blocked out entirely with 12,288 blocks of pixels, which can be purchased for £10.00 per 25 pixel block. As each block is purchased, some of the painting will be revealed with the end goal being for pixels to be purchased to reveal the entire painting.
Anyone buying a block of pixels will be entered into a draw to win the painting, which is 6ft x 4ft in dimension and painted on canvas. This unique concept, which it is hoped will attract interest from around the globe, will provide members of the public with the opportunity to win the Howson original by parting with only £10.00. There is no limit on the number of pixels that can be purchased by individuals.
Howson, 51, who is originally from Ayrshire, has collaborated with the National Trust for Scotland to assist in the final fundraising push for the remaining £3.8 million needed for its Robert Burns Birthplace Museum project, the largest, most ambitious project the charity has ever undertaken; the new 1600m² museum building will provide space for the Burns collection, their interpretation and storage, making it a draw for Burns fans from across the globe and providing a lasting legacy for generations to come. The building will also provide a world-class exhibition area of 500m² compared to 120m² in the existing museum.
The artist’s figurative work has made him one of the foremost British artists of his generation with celebrities including David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Madonna (who he painted nude in 2002) holding his paintings amongst their private collections.
Peter Howson said: “I have been a fan of Burns all of my life and grew up in Ayrshire, therefore the new museum and everything it stands for is very close to my heart. When I was asked to get involved in this project it provided me with the perfect opportunity to help raise money for the creation of the new museum and raise awareness of the campaign.
“Due to the nature and secrecy of the painting I can only say that the painting is in-keeping with the style of my work and portrays Burns in a light that he has never been seen in before. The ‘raffle’ concept for the fundraiser will enable someone, at any location across the world, to win a piece of my work – and own a painting of the great man himself.”
He added: “The new museum will be a wonderful offering for Alloway and for people visiting from within the UK and all over the world to learn about Scotland’s most heroic son. I urge people to get behind this initiative and help raise the final amount of funds required.”
Howson’s work has encompassed a number of controversial themes, from the initial angles of heroic portrayals of working class men, for which he has become renowned, to his role as official war artist for the Bosnian civil war in 1993. The explicit nature of the images contributed to Howson’s increasingly controversial reputation. He has won several awards, including the Lord Provost’s Prize and the European Young Artist’s Prize and his work has been exhibited all over the world.
Robert Burns Birthplace Museum Director Nat Edwards said:
“It is wonderful to have the support of Peter Howson in our fundraising efforts for the museum and for a new piece of artwork of Burns to be created by such a prolific artist.
“This is a new kind of fundraising initiative for us and one which we hope will help us to raise a substantial amount of money for our project.
“Burns has been painted many times, however this painting is absolutely magnificent and everything you would expect of a Howson. It is completely unique and truly breathtaking and demonstrates that Burns continues to inspire many present-day artists, writers and musicians. Our new museum will help bring together the very best of Burn’s legacy with the very best contemporary creativity.”
The site is now live – pixels can be purchased at www.howsonburns.com