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Ardern art: Betty Gray, left, and Jess Staples with Jacinda Ardern artworks being auctioned on November 20

By PHILIP CHANDLER

Two portraits of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are among artworks up for auction at a Southland Labour Party fundraiser at Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall on Friday.

Organiser Amanda Robinson, who confirms the PM’s been invited, says the ‘Paint The Region Red Art Auction’ will help fund Labour candidate Jon Mitchell’s recent campaign and build momentum.

Funds will also go to charity Baskets of Blessing, which has been feeding out-of-work locals.

One Ardern painting is an oil by 18-year-old Queenstowner Jess Staples, who won Wakatipu High’s painting scholarship last year.

She says she painted the PM during lockdown ‘‘as I just thought she handled the whole Covid situation really well’’.

Local retiree Betty Gray’s donating a controversial Ardern print by artists Weston Frizzell — a collab between Otis Frizzell and Mike Weston — over the word ‘Aroha’ (Maori for ‘love’).

After the painting was widely used as a poster earlier this year, the Electoral Commission deemed it to be a Labour Party advertisement.

Gray says local Labourites had got used to being ‘‘closet supporters’’, but Mitchell’s candidacy had changed that.

Among other artists whose 30-plus works are being auctioned, by live and silent auctions, are Ewan McDougall, Christine King, Doc Ross, Andie King and Mitchell’s sister, Ira Mitchell.

The auctioneer will be local Bayleys agent Wayne Cafe.

There’ll be entertainment from Queenstowner Leanne Malcolm’s new band, Lumsden Calling, while Arrowtown brewer Lake & Wood Brew Co.’s concocted a special alcoholic orange seltzer called Fizz.

The auction starts 7.30pm but doors open 6pm for browsing the artworks.

Tickets, $20, are for sale from Eventbrite.

Ticket-holders will also go into a draw for a magnum of pinot noir signed by local movie star/winemaker Sam Neill.

scoop@scene.co.nz