We took Freddie to an art exhibition the other day. We saw works in widely differing styles, and there was some photography too, but they all had one thing in common — they displayed the arrestingly original viewpoint offered by an unrestricted eye. We could’ve been in the Tate Modern, but we weren’t — there was a singular lack of self-concious pretension, for a start — we were at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery for the Heart and Sold exhibition.
Heart and Sold is a pioneering arts initiative which promotes and supports artists who (happen to) have Down’s Syndrome. It aims to educate, to raise awareness, and to prove that people with Down’s can be whatever they want to be. It represents the artists, facilitates the sale of their artwork, and in doing so provides them with a platform, and a future.They work solely for the sake of the artists and their art, and often work closely with the families and carers of the artists to encourage and support them, and build their confidence. Some of those they support have gone on to have their own successful exhibitions, and are now making sales and taking on commisions in their own right.
Heart and Sold was started by Suzie and Paul Moffat. After the birth of their son, Max, who has Down’s Syndrome, in 2007, they became fascinated with the creative nature of people with Down’s, and the startlingly different artworks they produced. They believed that this art deserved to be shared with the wider word, and so, enlisting the help of friend and designer Matt Maurer, and brought the concept of Heart and Sold to life.
They began with a small pilot exhibition at a local Arts Festival in Cheshire. the success of this lead to further exhibitions and a fully interactive website, where users can find out about the exhibitions and the artists, and even buy limited edition prints of their works (heartandsold.org.uk). Heart and Sold is now growing internationally, and in 2013 the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge accepted an original work from one of their artists — Rupert Flying Over the Clifton Suspension Bridge by Tazia Fawley (she’s one of my personal favourites) — for Prince George’s nursery. The focus of Heart and Sold remains on discovering more artists with Down’s Syndrome, and giving them and their work the exposure and support that they merit.