Some of Britain's finest artists have each painted a ukulele, with the instruments being auctioned off for charity later this week. Huon Mallalieu reports.

Ukuleles painted by great artists – charity auction

Twelve years ago, Mick Rooney, RA, painted a diptych called Playing the Ukulele as the Ship went down and, shortly afterwards, a neighbour built him his own instrument. Naturally, he found it a tempting surface and painted it himself.

Then he suggested to Gemma Peppe, organiser of the Art on a Postcard scheme in aid of the Hepatitis C Trust, that artist’s ukes could be auctioned off for charity in the same way.

Now, he has organised 27 colleagues, ranging from RAs to street artists, to join him in painting a ukulele for an auction at Long & Ryle, London SW1, on Thursday September 21.

The artists who contributed include Bill Jacklyn, Allen Jones, Cathie Pilkington, Ramiro Fernandez Saus, P. J. Crook, Norman Ackroyd, Anne Desmet, George Underwood, Linda Sutton, Charlie Calder-Potts and Fipsi Seilern.

We’ve pictured several of the ukuleles here, but you can see them all at the charity auction’s website.

The ukulele decorared by Allen Jones RA with his typical sense of fun

The ukulele decorated by Allen Jones RA with his typical sense of fun

As Mr Rooney says: ‘The ukulele can be put in a kitbag, taken to the pub, the end of the pier, on charabanc excursions or off to war. This humble artifact is the most well travelled portable instrument in the world.

‘Although these particular ukuleles have been treated by the most contemporary creative spirits, with the utmost tender loving care, they somehow remain nobly humble, the people’s instrument.’

The auction takes place on September 21 at Long & Ryle in London. You can find out more – or even bid online – at www.artonaukulele.com. All proceeds go to The Hepatitis C Trust.