Updated: Oct 24
A brief history of the guitar, the fundraiser, Andy, and what this effort is all about.
On the 7th of January, I am holding another fundraiser for HOPE, a local suicide bereavement charity that provides free lifetime support to people left behind when a loved one ends their life. I have organised this fundraiser annually, aside from last year's apocalypse, ever since I lost my dearest best friend Andy to suicide in May 2016.
Andy built guitars. He was the sort of narrow-focused, specifically passionate man that no matter what your conversations were about, they'd always somehow meander back to the two things he cared about the most in life: guitars and chips. I spent hours, possible weeks and months, listening to him describe in detail the processes he was going through. Various builds, learning to put a truss rod in (I had to learn what a truss rod was first), experimenting with paint procedures, it was endless. He adored the creative process behind guitar building, despite being new to the craft, and he adored talking about it. I adored listening, watching, sharing, and occasionally drawing on things he'd make.
The guitar in the picture was one of the first complete guitars he ever built, which he gave to me. I drew on it with sharpies, wondering if I could do anything cool. This was before I even dreamed of considering myself an artist, before I'd ever done any pyrography or art on wood at all. So I made the design, we loved it, the guitar basically then went into storage and has floated around with me from place to place since 2013.
Andy died in 2016. Not a day goes by that I don't still speak to him, or think of him. I've never had a best friend quite like him. He was a puzzle piece that fit beautifully into my own puzzle piece, and I miss him exquisitely, even after all this time.
I am stripping the paint off this guitar, taking it back to bare wood, and covering it in the intricate all-over pyrography patterns you see in so much of my other artwork. I'm giving myself two and a half months to finish it. Progress photos will largely be on Instagram (I am @SaraKathleenUK over there) and the occasional post will go up here in this new blog as well.
The guitar won't be sold or auctioned off, it will instead be a raffle. This has worked well for the other 3 guitars from past fundraisers, as the cost is low enough for anyone to enter, and keeps things inclusive. Tickets are £10 a go, buy as many as you like. They are available for purchase in the "shop" section of this website.
At the actual fundraiser, we will be having a night of loud, happy, dance-worthy music I have hand-picked for the exact right vibe. Despite the subject matter being quite intense and sad, the music will be celebratory, loud, and impossible not to enjoy. However! Because it is being held at The Hunter Club in Bury St. Edmunds, and because they have two separate gig rooms, there will also be a space away from the live music with art activities, a smaller raffle, and other various artistic activities and exhibits meant to nurture our own creativity and mental health in the deepest of Gross January.
You can help by buying a raffle ticket for the guitar on my Fundraiser Page.
You can also make a donation on that page, without buying a raffle ticket.
You can help by sharing this Facebook Event, even if you can't go.
You can help by sharing social media posts about the guitar, which will be mainly on @sarakathleenuk and sometimes on @hunterclubbse
You can help by being nice to people who have lost someone to suicide.
You can help by gently supporting your friends who are in a dark place.
The winner of the guitar raffle will be announced the day after the event, on the 8th of January. That is also when I'll announce the amount we were able to raise for HOPE.
Grieving a suicide is a unique, non-linear, misunderstood, and often un-supported type of grief that an awful lot of us carry around in our hearts every single day. Charities like HOPE are safe havens for us, providing a non-judgmental, indispensable fellowship sadness and remembrance that can in turn help save our own lives as well.