Art in the name of charity

They say the best art is when the viewer participates and when better to participate than at a charitable dinner and art auction.

Art in the name of charity

The annual East Maitland Art Auction Dinner will be held Saturday 2 August raising funds for the charitable organisation, Youth Off The Streets.


Founder and CEO of Youth Off The Streets, Father Chris Riley, invites local community members to experience and purchase the work of local artists, including long-time contributors and friends, James Casey and Marea Kozaczynski-McCaig.


Sharing not only a love for art but also a desire to help Father Riley’s cause, the unlikely pair became friends over the years, residing only a street apart. However, personalities and styles of work couldn’t be further apart.


Marea Kozaczynski-McCaig, of Maitland, possesses a love of vibrant colour and intricate designs wherein you can witness her wild imagination at work through her elaborate pieces.


She has won many awards in her career as an artist including those from the Newcastle Show, the Maitland Art Prize and the Singleton Art Prize, awards which are testimony to her talent and creativity.


“I work a lot with the idea of gardens, trees, life and faces,” says Kozaczynski-McCaig.


“I work with what I can see and what I cannot see. I like to work with my imagination because then you are actually doing something that is totally different from anyone else’s work.”


The creativity doesn’t end at her own canvas; in fact the award-winning artist has been sharing her techniques and distinctive skill for illustration at her home studio for over twenty years.


Her infectious passion for nature and art as well as the desire to pass on these abilities is evident when a former student produces a very similar piece of art to her own with a focus on trees and nature.


“It’s good to know that they started here and I taught them how to do their pen work and then they carry that off into their own thing,” says Marea.


“It’s lovely to know that you have had an impact on the students and can be proud of them.”


The positive impact Marea has on her current and former students is evident whether they are elaborating on their own ideas or perhaps are only beginning to discover their inner artistic ability.


An artist who needs no more time to discover the artist within is well-known local painter, James Casey.


Casey, who has donated work every year since 2001, has again picked up the paintbrush for another original oil painting to be auctioned on the night.


The outspoken James has been a sign writer since his earlier days and learnt the trade as a young man. His passion and strength, however, lie within the landscape oil paintings and lifelike portraits he paints from real life.


He has sold and given away canvases over the years nationwide to many buyers as well as friends. His paintings have been so impressive that he was approached and asked to gather 33 paintings for an exhibition of still life at the Regional Gallery. The successful exhibition brought hundreds of people to the event on its opening night.


James’ oil paintings are telling their own story.


“I like painting from life. I don’t like painting from photos because they don’t set it up. But when I set a portrait up, I’d put you in something that really suited you in colour and the angle of your face,” says James.


“And when you set it up yourself, it’s better; it’s much harder to paint from life.”


The opinionated artist is quite the character. However, his work takes a more classic approach where he is truly able to showcase and demonstrate the talent he has worked hard to perfect.


Sitting amongst some of the area’s most well-known artists, James and Marea are hoping their original artwork helps raise significant funds for Father Riley and the good cause.


All involved are hoping it is a successful evening where bidders are battling it out in the name of charity for beautiful original art.


Money raised from the night supports young people aged 12 to 21 who are facing the challenges of homelessness, drug and alcohol dependency, exclusion from school, neglect and abuse.


The Annual YOTS Art Auction and Dinner will be held on Saturday 2 August at the Therry Centre, New England Hwy, East Maitland. To learn more, please P Bronwyn O’Neill 0412 686 479 or 4933 1135. For more information about YOTS or to donate, visit


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