IF YOU go down to City Screen today (or any day over the next month, come to that) you're sure of a nice surprise.

The whole of the cinema's first floor corridor has been turned into an art gallery, the wall covered with canvases, acrylics, photographs and framed watercolours.

That's not unusual. But this is a very special exhibition.

A huge acrylic by artist Donna Collins anchors the show. It's a splurge of bright reds, yellows and greens, showing sunflowers in a wide field beneath an orange sky. Stretching along the wall to either side of it are abstract pieces; layered felt work that has an almost 3-D quality; drawings and photographs.

Every single piece is an original work of art. All have been donated by professional artists, talented amateurs, and people who have been involved with mental health services in York so as to raise money for two local mental health charities - York Mind and Rethink Mental illness, York. They're all based loosely around the idea of 'change' - the theme of this year's mental health awareness week. And over the next month, they're all up for sale in what organisers Lowra Kitchingman and Holly Bilton are calling a 'silent auction'.

York Press:

Lowra Kitchingman at the Change art exhibition

The idea is that you go along and have a look. If a particular work of art catches your eye, just take a bidding slip (you'll find them in a small envelope hung on the wall beneath an 'Art Auction: current high bids' chalkboard), and fill in your name, contact details, the number of the painting, and the amount you'd like to offer. You then post your bid into a special 'bid box' hanging on the wall.

Every couple of days, either Holly or Lowra will come in, look through the bids, and chalk the highest bid for each painting up on the chalkboard, so that those making future bids know how much they'll need to pay. And when the exhibition ends on November 26, the person making the highest bid for each artwork will get to take it home after handing over the price agreed.

It's a bit like bidding for something on ebay, says Holly - except you have to physically come along, look at the paintings, then post your bid in the bid box.

It's a great way to get a piece of high quality original art to hang in your home, says Holly, a community fundraiser for York Mind.

"And every bid is effectively a donation to supporting better mental health in York," adds Lowra, a volunteer with Rethink Mental Illness.

Holly and Lowra staged a similar exhibition at City Screen in May last year. That one raised £2,000, which was shared equally between the two charities.

This year's auction runs for longer - a full month - so it could raise even more.

York Press:

Centrepiece: Heaven is a Place on Earth by Donna Collins

It may not sound like a huge sum of money, says Holly: but it can make a real difference to small local charities. And the exhibition is a great way of raising the profile of the two charities too.

The artworks - all 51 of them - were hung yesterday morning by a group of volunteers who came along to the cinema specially.

They'll remain in place until Sunday November 26, when the winning bids will be revealed.

So if you love art, and would like to help support two very worthwhile local charities, make sure you get along to City Screen some time over the next month to check the exhibition out...

The two charities which will benefit from the exhibition and art auction

York Mind

York Mind, formed in 2011 through the merger of York & District Mind and Our Celebration, is an independent local mental health charity which aims to help people experiencing mental ill health to begin the journey to recovery.

The charity offers a range of services for local people, including:

  • a young people’s project offering one-to-one and group support for those aged 13-25
  • a mentoring programme
  • counselling
  • befriending
  • peer support groups
  • advocacy
  • activities aimed at improving mental health and wellbeing

The charity also campaigns to raise awareness of mental ill health and to combat stigma.

To find out more, visit www.yorkmind.org.uk/

Rethink Mental Illness - York group

Rethink Mental Illness is a national charity which helps millions of people affected by mental illness by ‘challenging attitudes and changing lives’.

It offers advice, advocacy, carer support, community support, nursing and residential care, housing, mental health training, and much more.

It also has a network of more than 100 support groups across the country - including the York group.

The groups offer a range of support, including

  • Self-help
  • Information
  • Peer support
  • Campaigning and fundraising

To find out more, visit www.rethink.org/