Have You Heard About Handpicked Scarves? The Designer Auction For Save The Children

Marc McGreevy mother and child detail Handpicked Scarves

Marc McGreevy Handpicked Scarf for Save The Children

The Handpicked Scarves campaign for Save The Children launched on Thursday: UK designers and artists have produced a collection of exclusive, hand-painted silk scarves,  that are now up for auction on Ebay.

You have until Sunday 23rd February to place your bids – and to make up your mind which scarf you’re after: all are beautiful, and very different, so choosing a favourite is hard.

I’ve been lucky enough to see the scarves in all their floating, tactile glory, having attended Save The Children’s reception at The May Fair Hotel last week. I prowled the room a dozen times, yet I’m still no closer to deciding which of the beautiful pieces on display is my favourite.

Julien Macdonald for Handpicked Scarves for Save The Children

Julien Macdonald Handpicked Scarf for Save The Children

The designers and artists who have created pieces for the campaign are Julien Macdonald, Marc McGreevy, Tara Newley, Shuby, Pinky, Pam Glew and Susan Bower; all of whom used Age of Reason’s Anarchy Jack scarf as the base for their design.

Will you go for the tenderness of Marc McGreevy’s mother and child (main picture, top left) or are you more taken by Julien Macdonald’s glittering, sparkling clown? (Pictured right, and notable as being  the only clown in history I’ve ever walked towards in fascination, rather than ran away from, screaming.) I’m very taken with Tara Newley’s piece (below, left): I’ve a weakness for illustrations of birds and I’m drawn to the softness and femininity of her design.

Tara Newley Handpicked Scarves for Save The Children

Tara Newley Handpicked Scarf for Save The Children

The May Fair Hotel is a lovely, softly-lit space and so, although kind to my face and therefore pleasing to my vanity,  a challenge to my limited photographic skills and cheap camera. Therefore I can’t show you images of the other scarves – and the ones I have pictured here really should be seen in their properly photographed glory – so click the link to visit the Handpicked Scarves facebook page and revel in the full range. I think you’ll understand why, even though there are many days left before final bidding, some of these fabulous creations are already attracting bids of several hundred pounds.

I was fortunate enough to be able to have a quick chat with Ali Mapletoft from Age of Reason, whose project this is, and Shuby, one of the artists involved:

iBeheld: Such a lovely evening, absolutely beautiful designs – how did the project come about?

Pam Glew  Handpicked Scarf for Save The Children

Pam Glew Handpicked Scarf for Save The Children

The first artist to get involved was Pam Glew (Pam Glew’s scarf pictured to the right) who is local to me and that was a very organic process because I actually met Pam through Freecycle! We talked about other artists that we knew of, like Shuby … I got in touch with Marc McGreevy, and Marc and his PA Matthew were quite instrumental in bringing in artists. It really happened very organically – it was almost like who really cares enough? Who’s going to give it their time?

Shuby, your fantastic Velvet Underground-esque banana– what inspired you to come up with that?

Shuby: I often use the banana in my artwork and I wanted to do something that was bold and colourful, child-like and happy. It’s a nice way to collaborate with Ali and use a different material. Doing what I do to raise money for children is a pleasure and a real honour. 

Ali: It was really interesting to see how different people interpreted the brief because I had said ‘Childhood’ and left it very open. Some of the artists like Shuby and Julien interpreted that as iconic images of joy and colour … Julien’s piece reminds me of something that a magician might pull out of his sleeve, or top hat. It’s got that magic about it.

Susan Bower Handpicked Scarf for Save The Children

Susan Bower Handpicked Scarf for Save The Children

Other people interpreted that brief as a mother and child: Marc interpreted it in that way and so did Susan Bower – hers is almost a Madonna and child (pictured to the left). Those two things: things from your childhood, and the mother and child; the image that we’ve seen through all of art history. Marc’s is interesting because he was inspired by Alex Wek – who as far as I know is not a mother – but he imagined somebody like her as a mother, because he really admires her.

One of your designers is Tara Newley …

Yes, it was great to get Tara. Tara’s piece in a way is one of the bravest because she’s not an artist and she decided to give it a go anyway, and I think that’s quite a brave thing to do when you’ve got people who are professional artists doing this.

I adore scarves, I love them but whenever I try to actually wear a scarf around my head, I fall short because my childhood was filled with images of Joan Collins (Tara Newley’s mum) making any scarf and any turban look like the best thing in the world because That Incredible Face was underneath it! Do you have any tips to help me overcome this?

Marc McGreevy babies detail from Handpicked Scarves for Save The Children

Marc McGreevy babies detail from Handpicked Scarves for Save The Children

If you want to wear a scarf on your head, wear a plain cotton band underneath – that stops the scarf from sliding. The reason it’s sliding is because most scarves are made from silk, and silk and your hair are both slippery. It’s always advisable to add height –

Can I stick a rolled-up pair of knickers underneath my scarf?

Yes! Create that height on your head, because if you don’t what happens is people see Joan Collins in her turban; it’s got a bit of va-va-voom because of the height, they try to do that and look like Gladys the Washerwoman and they’re really disappointed. A bit of height: that’s all you need!

I’m inspired – I have very fine hair and if I could cover it up on some days I’d be very happy!

That’s why I started my scarf business – I had an awful haircut!

Save The Children Handpicked Scarves eventThe table at the centre of the whole event (pictured left)  has been busy all night with people drawing their own designs, one of which will be chosen to go into limited edition production – that’s very exciting!

I think Mary Portis is going to judge that, and there’s two ways that that can work: either we use the work as it is or we could use the artwork as a starting point to work with that person to further develop that into a more finished piece. Mary’s Living and Giving Shops will sell [the finished design] on a limited edition basis, with all profits going to Save The Children. I think that will be really lovely – it may be limited, but more people can own that, and not everyone can own the art that’s here today.


To be in with a chance of owning one of these one-off pieces of art, visit the online auction and bid, bid, bid!

If your pockets aren’t deep enough, and you don’t have nerves of steel, you can still treat yourself to a beautiful scarf AND help Save The Children at the same time by checking ALL the listings on the auction. Designers  Lily & Lionel, Silken Favours, Beulah London, Mercy Delta, Dorcas & Mopsa, Helen Ruth, Day Birger & Mikklesen and  Klements have all donated ‘Buy It Now’ Pieces to the campaign.

Follow and support the campaign using the #Handpickedscarves hashtag!

Click here to find out more about the work of Save The Children, and the enormous difference that they make to children’s lives in more than 120 countries including the UK.