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Painting Pigs


In honour of the imminent Chinese New Year, Year of the Pig, from 9-24 February the galleries and retail spaces of pretty Parnell will host an enchanting exhibition of pig-themed art created by artists and celebrities. The pieces will later be auctioned to raise money for the Starship National Air Ambulance Service, an organisation that, in 2018, flew more than 160 retrieval flights ferrying critically ill kids to the hospital from across the country.


Starship Foundation chief executive Aisha Daji Punga says that bidding on the pigs will help “ensure that all our children have access to world-class healthcare, irrespective of where they live”. Last year’s Year of the Dog auction raised more than $27,000, and all involved hope to top that in 2019. Parnell Business Association General Manager Cheryl Adamson reveals some of the star names behind the creations of this year’s farmyard favourites to be TV presenter Erin Simpson and renowned Samoan-New Zealand artist Fatu Feu’u.


Another art piece comes courtesy of Clare Grove. The effervescent author and illustrator almost glides along Jervois Road to greet Verve warmly with a hug and a cheek-kiss, every bit as fabulous as the Swarovski crystal-adorned artwork she’s crafted for the auction.


“Between broken bones and meningitis scares, each one of my kids has been looked after by Starship,” says the mum-of-three. “So, anything to help that place out, they’re absolutely amazing!”


Clare previously had prominent roles with international fashion and beauty brands and continues to be an online influencer. She is well-known for her My Mummy Loves blog (, and children’s fashion-themed picture books that have been hailed by the likes of British Vogue. Clare also works as a stylist.


Clare’s pig is christened ‘Peony Pig’, and, sparkling crystals aside, it’s also adored with stunning painted pink blooms inspired by the Parnell Rose Gardens. It’s the first time that Clare has turned her talents to decorating a sculpture, though she reveals having “mucked around with different mediums” during her art degree in the UK, from where she hails. 


“I have done murals before, so I guess that this was akin to a smaller version of that,” she beams, “I’m so pleased with little Miss Peony Pig.”


As too are her kids. Have they picked up any of mum’s creative tendencies?


“Yes, all three of them have, actually. Ben’s only seven but is already sketching intricate drawings of spaceships. They’re really incredible for his age, and his teacher believes that he may be an architect in the making with such attention to detail! My mum’s also an artist, as was my great-grandfather, so it stretches across a few generations.”


As for her Chinese zodiac sign, Clare regretfully reveals that she’s a rat, though does admit a great fondness for pigs—as well as one of their famous fans. “I do love pigs,” she laughs. “George Clooney has one apparently, and I certainly wouldn’t mind jetting off to meet George and his pig at Lake Como!” 


The final live auction of the prized pigs will take place on the evening of 28 February at Jonathan Grant Galleries.