Going, going to cathedral auction

PUBLISHED: 11:28 15 March 2007 | UPDATED: 12:18 04 May 2010

ACTION AUCTION: Tim Blyth with some of the exhibits.
Photo: HELEN DRAKE

ACTION AUCTION: Tim Blyth with some of the exhibits. Photo: HELEN DRAKE

AUCTIONEER David Palmer will be flogging modern art, including an abstract nude sculpture and a teapot bearing a picture of Marilyn Monroe, in Ely Cathedral s ancient Lady Chapel. David, who has appeared on the television show s Bargain Hunt and Flog It!

AUCTIONEER David Palmer will be flogging modern art, including an abstract nude sculpture and a teapot bearing a picture of Marilyn Monroe, in Ely Cathedral's ancient Lady Chapel.

David, who has appeared on the television show's Bargain Hunt and Flog It! will wield the hammer under the statue of the Virgin Mary in the 14th century chapel.

Among the contemporary art pieces up for sale will be a sculpture of a tap on legs and a painting of a man in bed playing a trumpet while his dog smokes a cigar.

David has been told the auction must be held after an 8.15am service and before quiet hour at 12 noon on Saturday, March 24.

"I was shocked when we were given permission to hold the auction," said David, who runs sales for Ely auctioneers Blyth and Co in Market Place. "But if you don't ask you don't get.

"My grandfather conducted a funeral in the cathedral, my father helped with building work and I will be the third generation who has been a servant of this church."

An Ely Cathedral spokesperson said: "In medieval times the cathedral would have been a market place where money changed hands all the time. It would have been noisy and bustling and so this is almost like going back in history.

"An auction was held in the Lady Chapel 20 years ago when the appeal was launched to restore it.

"For some people, this auction will be the first time they have ever stepped inside the Lady Chapel and, although it is a Christian place first and foremost, it should have a sense of community gathering."

Viewing for the auction will take place between Monday, March 19 and Friday, March 23 at Blyth and Co's Fenlord Auction Rooms. The auction will be open to buyers from 9.30am.

All the work included in the sale is by local artists, many with national reputations, and a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Wildlife Trust's Great Fen Project.

The project aims to buy and restore land where wildlife habitats can be cultivated and safeguarded to create a landscape not seen on such a large scale since the 17th century.

It is hoped the project will increase tourism and provide a much-needed boost to the local economy.

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