Gone in 60 sections? UK artist hopes to raise millions with giant canvas

DUBAI (Reuters) - British artist Sacha Jafri aims to raise more than $30 million for children’s charities by creating the world’s largest canvas painting and auctioning it off in 60 sections.

The piece, titled “The Journey of Humanity”, will measure just under 2,000 square metres when it is completed and benefit UNICEF, UNESCO, Global Gift Foundation, and Dubai Cares in an example of creative fundraising during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jafri, who was staying in the United Arab Emirates when a coronavirus lockdown was imposed, will incorporate contributions from children around the world into the work being painted in a ballroom at Dubai’s luxury Atlantis resort.

The themes are connection and isolation.

“Children do not have the tools to deal with what they’re going through right now,” Jafri told Reuters.

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“I wanted to put a call out to the children of the world, to basically give them a chance express themselves emotionally.”

The canvas, which will tour the UAE, has required over six months of work with 1,200 gallons of paint and 1,000 brushes.

The artist said he would use philanthropic connections cultivated over 25 years to try to raise more than $30 million at a time when the coronavirus has devastated the global economy.

“We pray and we hope that’s going to be the case. And if not, whatever comes is so welcome,” says Maria Bravo of the Global Gift Foundation.

“At this moment anything helps truly. We had to cancel all our galas this year. We had to create new ways to fundraise.”

Reporting by Jacob Greaves and Tarek Fahmy, Writing by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Nick Macfie