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Art with heart . . . North Otago artists John Mitchell (left) with Kissing Earth (graphite on paper), and Eion Shanks with Emptying the Tank (oil on board) which are both part of the Art for Ukraineexhibition at the Reef Gallery. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

Artists from North Otago, or with a connection to the area, are banding together to raise funds for Ukraine.

Sixteen familiar names on the local art scene are exhibiting in Art For Ukraine at the Reef Gallery, which opens tonight at Poshtel in Thames St.

At least 50% of the earnings would go to the Red Cross Ukraine fund, although some artists were choosing to give all proceeds, exhibition organiser and artist Eion Shanks said.

Poshtel owner Phillip McNicholl was offering the gallery space free, and admission to the exhibition was also free.

The idea came about because Shanks and fellow artist and exhibition organiser John Mitchell were already doing Ukraine-based art.

‘‘We were just pondering about it,’’ Shanks said.

‘‘We realise there’s lots of other stuff happening in the world . . . but public opinion and awareness at the moment is focused on this, so we’re just going with that.’’

Some of the work was Ukraine-focused, and some was not, Mitchell said.

‘‘At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what the work is about, the fact is, it’s just raising funds for Ukraine.’’

An opening for the exhibition was being held today from 4.30pm to 7pm, with a cash bar.

The exhibition would run for two weeks initially, but may go longer, and would be open daily from 10.30am to 2pm.

Contributing artists are: Dugal Armour, Peter Cleverley, Michael Cooke, Katherine Kovacs, Ewan McDougall, Will Murray, Lindsay Murray, John Mitchell, Tracy Vickers, Eion Shanks, Katie Waite and Trish Shirley.