Vicky Phelan portrait raises over €55,000 for healthcare workers

Painting of cervical cancer awareness campaigner far exceeds estimate value in Co Laois sale

A portrait of cervical cancer awareness campaigner Vicky Phelan has raised €55,700 at auction in aid of charity.

Vincent Devine is the creator of the triptych portrait of the Kilkenny woman and mother-of-two who is undergoing additional treatment as part of a new drug trial in the US.

The portrait was purchased by a Kilkenny buyer, according to actioneers Sheppards’ Irish Auction House who said the piece would go on public display later this year once Covid restrictions are eased.

The portrait was auctioned for the Heroes Aid charity, which was set up last year in response to the global pandemic and sources and funds personal protective equipment, equipment, educational and psychological supports for healthcare workers.


Bids were taken on the phone and online and after more than seven minutes of frenetic bidding the painting went to a telephone bidder for €46,500 as three bidders fought it out.

The purchase price came to €55,700 including fees and commission.

Sheppard’s, who are based at Durrow, Co Laois, are also donating fees and commission to Heroes Aid.

Auctioneer Michael Sheppard said the painting was inspired “by Vicky’s incredible courage. The symbolism used in this painting to my mind will be a historic reference in decades to come”.

Mr Sheppard welcomed everyone to the auction and asked for an opening bid of €50,000 which eventually started at €15,000.

A round of applause by those present in the Co Laois auction house was made following the sale.

‘Symbol of hope’

Speaking by phone from the United States before the auction, Ms Phelan paid tribute to the artist, Mr Devine, for “making the invisible visible” and said she hopes the work will act as a “symbol of hope” for those who see it.

Ms Phelan said she was unsure when first approached about the portrait but that Mr Devine “won me over”.

“I could see how invested he was in his work. He’s very strong into women’s rights and advocating for women and what I really loved was the anatomical way he painted me. I really like this idea of showing my scars. We all live with scars that nobody sees and I thought it was a really clever way of making the invisible visible.”

Ms Phelan said she collaborated with Mr Devine throughout the process and that they both agreed the painting should be situated in Doonbeg in Co Clare, a location she previously described as her favourite place on earth.

“He just got me and understood what was important to me and why. Anything he painted he ran by me, it was very much a collaboration.”