Stik, the once-homeless graffiti artist, whose stick-like figures adorn the streets of East London and beyond, has announced that a full set of his NHS Sleeping Baby print is to be auctioned at Christie’s later this month.
The prints, expected to sell for £2,000 to £3,000 as a set of four, will raise money for the Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Art Charitable Fund.
This is not the first time Stik has used his art to help the hospital. The original ‘Sleeping Baby’ mural can be seen in the garden of Homerton Hospital itself, and last year Stik sold £50,000 worth of prints of the image with all the proceeds going to the Homerton Hospital’s art room.
The iconic image of a sleeping baby, painted in Stik’s usual style of block colour and thick-black lines, has since been adopted as a symbol by NHS workers. “It represents the vulnerability of the NHS and the feeling of fondness we have for it. The NHS is our baby and we have to protect it,” Stik says.
During the recent junior doctors strikes, the image was printed on placards with slogans such as ‘Hands off our NHS’ and ‘The NHS is our baby’.
Stik’s ties to Homerton Hospital go back a long way. During the 10 years he spent living on Hackney’s streets he says it was “an essential place in my survival network”.
“They saved my life a few times, stitched me back together,” he says.
It is for this reason that Stik is so intent on making sure NHS stays in public hands.
“It was only because of Homerton, St. Mungo’s hostel and Mind that I am here today. So I feel it is my responsibility to preserve these organisations, so that other people can come up from the streets,” he says.
Stik began painting around 2001 as a means of “communicating with the world”. He uses his art to campaign on issues affecting society, and has frequently collaborated with various charities, hospitals and homeless organisations. As a former Big Issue vendor himself, in 2013 he published exclusive artwork in the magazine to help the homeless sell copies.
The auction will take place at Christie’s on 19 May, with private viewing available from 14–18 May.