Artist sells her collection to benefit peacekeepers

Art sale Nov. 22-23 at St. Mark's Cathedral

Credit: Michelle Bruch

Bryn Mawr artist Nell Hillsley hopes to fund international peacekeeping jobs by clearing out her entire 75-piece art collection. All of the sale proceeds will benefit Nonviolent Peaceforce, a Belgium-based group with an office in Loring Park that works to protect civilians in dangerous countries.

“I still can’t believe how people without arms can go out there and be successful. But they do,” Hillsley said. (United Nations peacekeepers, by contrast, carry arms, she said.)

Hillsley has done this before — in 2007, she sold more than 100 paintings within a few hours and raised $64,000, enough to fund two peacekeepers for a year.

“This is one thing we can do,” she said.

Hillsley was introduced to Nonviolent Peaceforce through its proximity to her church, St. Mark’s. She is inspired by stories of peacekeepers teaching conflict resolution skills to chieftains in Sudan, and successful work to return 26 Sri Lankan boys who were kidnapped to become Tamil Tiger soldiers.

At age 86, Hillsley continues to experiment with new artwork. Her latest trial is an abstract homage to the oceanfront properties built on stilts where she used to vacation.

“[Art] is the most wonderful thing to grow old with,” she said.

Flowers are a common painting subject, which Hillsley attributes to her father’s work as a florist and her mother’s proficiency as a gardener. She’s also selling a sentimental painting — the first she attempted after a stroke two-and-a-half years ago.

The art sale is Nov. 22, 4-7 p.m. and Nov. 23, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at St. Mark’s Cathedral, 519 Oak Grove St.