Drill Hall Artists Stand with Ukraine

Sue Tilley has coordinated the Stand for Ukraine fundraiser with Aneta George IMAGE: Sarah Joy Photography

While the world has watched aghast as Russian troops tear civilians’ lives apart, ‘I stand with Ukraine’ has become the global catch-cry in support of a nation under siege.

Like many, artist and owner of The Drill Hall Studio Sue Tilley was moved to do more as images of the suffering were beamed into her own world so far and safe from danger.

Stand with Ukraine Art Auction

Sue has teamed up with local potter Aneta George to host a fundraising soiree and art auction for displaced Ukrainians.

Sue had initially thought about holding a fundraising exhibition at The Drill Hall. However, when Aneta approached her about selling a platter in the studio as a fundraiser, a larger idea took seed.

“The thing about artwork is that it could sell the first day or it could take months to sell. But the money is really needed now,” says Sue.

“I said to Aneta ‘let’s get together and see what we can do’. And I think we created a bit of a monster!”

The Stand with Ukraine fundraiser will be held at Townsville’s Drill Hall Studio IMAGE: Supplied

Word of the Stand with Ukraine fundraiser spread quickly and artists have donated more than 60 pieces for the auction.

“There’s been a massive inflow of donations,” Sue says. “Everything from paintings and different kinds of pottery to handmade teddy bears and jewelery.

“Most of them are from local artists, but pieces have been coming from out of town as well. People we’ve never met – never heard of – have seen what we’re doing and sent in work.

“I guess there’s lots of people who want to help but don’t have the avenue to do it.”  

Getting money directly to Ukranian refugees

Aneta came to Australia from Poland, now one of the main destinations for Ukrainian refugees driven from their homes.

Through her contacts, Aneta learned of Malgorzata Rudowska-Bulka who has been taking in up to 50 Ukranians at a time. Aneta and Sue have chosen Malgorzata to be the beneficiary of the Stand with Ukraine fundraiser.

“The money isn’t going through agencies and being gobbled up with administrative costs,” said Sue.

“Every time there is a disaster like this the Arts community is so generous.”

“Malgorzata and her family are right on the ground. They’re going out and buying baby formula and nappies and medicines and food. This means our fundraising dollars will go directly to where it needs to go. We can’t help all of the people who are in trouble, but we can certainly make a difference to some of the people.”

At this stage, Sue has not set a fundraising target for the Stand with Ukraine event.

“I haven’t done any mathematics on it, mainly because I’ve been too busy trying to administer it all,” Sue says.

“The ticket price will cover some hors d’oeuvres so people aren’t hungry and don’t want to rush away, a welcome drink and the cost of hiring some extra furniture. But there will be change, all of which will be donated. Plus every cent from the artworks and every cent from the profit of the bar will go directly to this cause.

“I think we should do pretty well.”

Why are artists so generous?

Arguably, Australian artists have faced more adversity than any other profession in recent years. Pandemic restrictions highlighted the economic instability faced by an industry that runs predominantly on contract work and short-lived projects.

Yet, the response to Sue and Aneta’s call for artists to help others in their time of need has been resounding.

“Every time there is a disaster like this the Arts community is so generous,” says Sue.

“Lots of visual artists are donating more than one piece and there are artworks that have been donated that would typically sell for more than $1,000 – that is a very generous donation.

“But also we have musicians who are giving up their time to play,” Sue says.

“I’m very protective of my artists when people come asking for someone to work for ‘exposure’. An artist can’t eat exposure or pay their power bill our fuel their car with exposure. But for causes like this, these artists are just so incredibly generous.

“There is something about people with that creative bent, I think they are tender hearts. It makes you very proud.”


The Stand with Ukraine Fundraising Soiree and Art Auction will be held at The Drill Hall Studio on 6 May 2022.

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