‘To see my painting in a gallery was unbelievable’: An incognito charity fundraiser

Identities of artists taking part in Jack & Jill sale not revealed until afterwards

Artist Fiona Breheny donated works to Jack & Jill's Incognito fundraising art sale three years ago before she knew her husband's niece was about to benefit from their nurses' homecare.

Painting was a hobby she kept quiet about at the time and it was only when she told her sister-in-law, Deirdre Gill, that she had entered a painting of her and her eldest child, Tiernan, in the upcoming exhibition in 2019, that the connection became apparent. Deirdre, whose brother, Diarmuid Bailey, is married to Fiona, was with her daughter Saoirse in Temple Street hospital at the time and had been referred to Jack & Jill for homecare.

"That added to the excitement," says Fiona, who queued up at the Solomon Gallery in Dublin on sale day to buy the painting for Deirdre. She was too late, it had already gone, but the whole experience helped to launch her as an artist.

“For me as an artist who was only starting out, to see my painting in a gallery, was unbelievable,” says Fiona, a primary school teacher, who, in her spare time, specialises in watercolour painting of fleeting memories, some of which have been captured in family photos (@fionab_art).


Conducted online

This year, for the second year running, Incognito is being conducted online. The collection of more than 3,000 postcard size, original pieces of art, all costing €60 each, are available to view online now at incognito.ie.

For the buyer it's a thrill because you might get someone famous,

However, the identities of the artists are not revealed to buyers until after they have bought a work. You may be getting an absolute bargain from leading Irish artists such as Robert Ballagh, Una Sealy, Peter Curling, Mick O'Dea and Helen Steele, or the creation of celebrities, such as U2's The Edge, Bob Geldof, Tommy Tiernan and Jason Byrne.

The sale starts at 10am on Thursday, April 22nd but, if last year is anything to go by, purchasers will have to be quick because everything was sold out in minutes.

‘Someone famous’

“For the buyer it’s a thrill because you might get someone famous,” says Fiona. Either way, you’re getting something nice and helping a good cause, so it’s win-win for everyone.”

Despite having her first child, Elena, seven months ago, Fiona managed to submit three works to Incognito again this year.

For her, it comes full circle, she adds, “because I get something from it and I know it gives something back to the families”.

Read: Extra year of home nursing care a huge relief

Sheila Wayman

Sheila Wayman

Sheila Wayman, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about health, family and parenting