People from as far afield as Manchester descended on Homerton yesterday in the hope of buying one of 100 original Stik prints, which the artist was selling to raise £50,000 for his local NHS hospital.
Some had camped out through the night and by midday the queue was snaking around the back of Homerton Hospital.
All proceeds from the sale were for the hospital’s neurological rehabilitation unit art room, to help expand the hospital’s arts workshop services for people with brain injuries and for those suffering from dementia.
The limited-edition prints were of a sleeping baby, a replica of a mural by Stik recently unveiled at the hospital.
Competition for the prints, which were on sale for £500 each, was so fierce that a queue member had introduced a raffle ticket system to stop people from jumping in.
“He’s one of us, a regular joe, a down-to-earth guy,” said Ali, from Hackney, who had been queuing since 7.30am, ten hours before the sale was due to start. “50 grand to give away like that, it’s really generous.”
When Stik arrived it was to the type of mobbing usually reserved for a superstar. Dressed in a leather jacket, shades and a t-shirt bearing one of his iconic stick man figures, he certainly looked liked one too.
Sean Caton, who has been Art Curator at Homerton Hospital for 20 years, said it was the most momentous day in the history of the hospital’s art department, and described Stik as “astonishingly generous” and a “true Renaissance man”.
“In my opinion it’s unprecedented and I think he’s a hero,” Mr Caton said.
“In this hospital there are many patients who need something to focus on, so we offer them art workshops, not just as a recreation or past time, but to help them gain control of their lives again.
“The things that go on in these workshops enhance their concentration, their motor coordination and their general sense of well being. And so the money raised will enable us to buy much needed equipment, materials and really push forward with these services.”
Those who missed out on a print were offered free posters of Sleeping Baby, printed in Pantone 300, or NHS blue.
“I want to show that we have been left holding the baby,” said Stik.
“We created the NHS, we love it and won’t let it be sold off.
“I want to encourage everybody at the Homerton Hospital to keep doing good work. This is my local and it’s kept me healthy and alive for a long time as it has done for lots of people in this area. The work people are doing here is incredibly important.”