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South African artist James Delaney was invited to New York on 13 March as a guest of the Starfish Greathearts Foundation, to participate in their fourth annual gala fundraiser in support of their work in South Africa.

Hosted in the penthouse of a highrise in TriBeCa, with illuminated skyscrapers across the river and the incredibly high new World Trade Centre tower reaching skywards, it was a perfect dramatic setting for an auction to support a worthy cause.

The Starfish Foundation runs programs in South Africa to support children who have been orphaned because of the AIDS pandemic, and their annual gala fundraiser goes a long way towards supporting their program. Starfish, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in the USA this year, improves the lives of 22 000 orphaned and vulnerable children annually. Starfish works with community-based organizations across South Africa to provide food, blankets, school uniforms, stationery, daycare, clinics, first aid kits, afterschool activities and counseling to meet the basic needs of children in their own communities.

Attended by a host of New York’s glitterati – some with South African connections, but many simply interested in supporting the Starfish cause – the event is as much a showcase of international artistic talent as it is a chance to change people’s lives.

Delaney has previously donated paintings to the auction, but was able to attend for the first time in 2013 thanks to a sponsorship from Virgin Atlantic. “Virgin were amazing, they were totally supportive of the cause, right from the beginning and it was cool to travel in Mr Branson’s fantastic airline for the first time!” he says. “I feel that attending made a big difference – buyers love to meet the artist – and my 2 limited-edition lithographs sold for a big record for my work on paper – over $5000 for the pair”. His work shone alongside paintings from Deborah Bell, Hugo McCloud and Jeff Koons – and all for a good cause, run by some very good people on the other side of the world, doing their piece to support South Africans.


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