30 iconic UK artists beautifully paint ukuleles to raise money for charity

See ukulele illustrations by Dave McKean, Charles Williams, Mick Rooney and more which will be auctioned to aid The Hepatitis C Trust.

 UK artist Charles Williams explains the creative process behind his ukulele illustration for Art on a Ukulele.


Iconic British illustrators Dave McKean, Charles Williams, Chris Orr and many others have beautifully painted ukuleles to raise money for The Hepatitis C Trust.

Using the money raised from the trust’s Art on a Postcard campaign – which reached a £6,000 target for their crowdfunding campaign –  Art on a Ukulele is the Trust’s project partnered with painter Mick Rooney RA and The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Together, an entire orchestra of ukuleles have been painted and decorated by well-known artists before they will be played at a charity concert next month and auctioned off to raise money for the charity.

Thirty ukuleles in total have been painted by legendary artists such as Bill Jacklin, Allen Jones, Cathie Pilkington, Ramiro  Fernandes Saus, PJ Crook and Norman Ackroyd. Mick painted a ukulele in the 2016 RA Summer Exhibition, sparking the idea for this project. Here's his ukulele design. 

Image: Mick Rooney RA

A special range of ukuleles have been designed for the project by independent ukulele producer Pete Howlett – who is the sole manufacturer for the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

The charity concert will be hosted by TV presenter Jon Snow, and performances on the night will include The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and The Massive Violins and Clean Bandit at The Jazz Cafe on September 12. Tickets are on sale now.

On September 21 an auction of all the ukuleles will be held, with all money raised going to The Hepatitis C Trust.

Image: Dave McKean


See Charles Williams paint his ukulele for the project in the video above. He talks about the difficulty of painting on an unusual shape – a ‘playful’ object rather than a ‘serious’ object.

“For some reason the ukulele and the monkey seem to fit together quite nicely,” he says.

The Hepatitis C Trust is a national charity that aims to eliminate Hepatitis C in the UK by 2030. Find out more about their projects by visiting the website.

Take at look at some of the incredible illustrated ukuleles in the rest of this feature.

You can see the full 30 ukuleles here.

Image: Charles Williams

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Ramiro Fernandez Saus


Allen Jones RA


Bill Jacklin RA

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Cathie Pilkington RA


Chris Orr


David Mach RA

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David Shillinglaw


Fipsi Seilem


George Underwood

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Glen Baxter


Jock McFadyen RA


Linda Sutton

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Louis Turpin


Michael Kirkbride 


Norman Ackroyd CBE RA

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Peter Layzell


Peter Messer


PJ Crook

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Tooney Phillips