Kate celebrates 'incredibly special' work of charity The Art Room

 

The Duchess of Cambridge has spoken of the power of art to change people's lives in a speech to celebrate the work of one of her charities.

Kate told an audience of 250 artists, schoolchildren and supporters of The Art Room, of which she is patron, that it felt "incredibly special" to be at the National Portrait Gallery in London to celebrate the work of the charity.

The Art Room, which uses art to increase children's self-confidence and independence, was marking its 11th anniversary and launching a new fundraising campaign at the event last night, attended by artists including Marc Quinn and Jenny Savile.

Kate, wearing a duck-egg blue empire-line Emilia Wickstead cocktail dress and dusky blue heels, said: "I am a firm believer in the power of art to make a difference and The Art Room is doing that on a daily basis.

"We all stand here tonight to celebrate this wonderful work.

"I hope that you will join me in congratulating The Art Room and their supporters on these extraordinary achievements.

"As patron of The Art Room, I feel immense pride to see the amazing work that they are doing but I also feel hugely excited to look to a future with more Art Rooms, where many more challenging and vulnerable children will be helped."

The Duchess, who wore her hair half up, is also patron of the National Portrait Gallery - and a portrait of her is currently on display at the venue.

Kate, an art history graduate, said: "I always love coming to the National Portrait Gallery so to be here tonight for an evening to celebrate The Art Room makes it feel incredibly special.

"When I have been fortunate enough to join Art Room sessions, I have been overwhelmed by the transformational impact they have.

"Vulnerable children flourish in the safe havens that the Art Room provide."

The Duchess spoke to children who use the Art Room facilities in London and Oxford and accompanied some of them on a private tour of a Man Ray exhibition at the gallery.

Six-months-pregnant Kate, whose bump was clearly showing in her cocktail dress, asked the children if they had been to the gallery before and if they went on many visits.

One girl, from Regent High School, told the royal visitor she had a special picture on her own bedroom wall - one of the Duchess on her wedding day.

Kate asked 15-year-old Tierthe if her husband William was included and, when told that he was, replied: "Good!"

The Duchess met artists who have donated works for a silent auction to raise money for The Art Room including Jenny Savile, Yinka Shonibare, Maggi Hambling and Marc Quinn.

She was introduced to Quinn in front of his artwork Self - a head made out of his own blood.

He said it was "fantastic" for Kate to be promoting the importance of art.

"It's great to see her getting involved in this kind of thing," he said. "Art is amazing because it can communicate in ways that words can't. It can have remarkable results."

Savile, herself a patron of The Art Room, said: "It is so effective to put creativity at the centre of someone's problems. It can act as a valve, to get people's pain out."

Shonibare said he had a discussion with Kate about "how wonderful art is".

"She came across to me as someone who genuinely loves art," he said. "It's really great to have someone who cares about it like that. The Art Room is such a great project - it's such a good thing."

In his speech, Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow - himself a patron of The Art Room - joked to guests that there were lots of reasons to attend the event, "but one of them is to see the bump".

He later said of the pregnant Duchess: "She is quite obviously more involved in The Art Room than just having her name on the notepaper.

"The thing about the Art Room is that they've been going for more than a decade now, and it works."

The Art Room currently has six centres at schools in Oxfordshire and London, and two more - in Ealing and Edinburgh - are set to open.

Juli Beattie, founder director of the charity, which helps children from the ages of five to 16, told those at the event: "This is a moving evening for all of us. I think we have done a lot of hard work.

"To see so many people here, in the Duchess's presence, is overwhelming."

She said the children enjoyed being shown around by National Portrait Gallery director Sandy Nairne.

He said of the Duchess: "She knows why art matters and why it has to be supported."

The Art Room launched a new fundraising campaign, Pledge For The Future, at the National Portrait Gallery event.

PA

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