Anna McKeever has created an original piece of artwork – Cavehill at Sunrise – to be raffled off to raise money for Darkness into Light’s 14 partner charities in Northern Ireland.

When Belfast-based doctor-turned-artist Anna McKeever was approached to be an Electric Ireland ambassador for the 2023 Darkness into Light campaign, it was an invitation she was only too happy to accept. 

“I knew as soon as I was approached, this was something I wanted to do,” she says.

“I initially trained as medical doctor and spent my career working in psychiatry and public health, before becoming a full-time artist. I am very aware of the impact mental illness can have, both on a professional and personal level. 

“The campaign really resonates with me and I am extremely proud to be an ambassador for Darkness into Light 2023.”

The annual fundraising event organised by Pieta, and proudly supported by Electric Ireland is set to take place on the morning of Saturday, May 6, with 16 walks – the highest number yet, scheduled to take place in communities across Northern Ireland.

“It is great to see the event going from strength-to-strength, year-on-year,” says Anna.

“You get family members of all ages taking part, friends, co-workers, people even bring their dogs along. Everyone is there for a common purpose, walking together in solidarity – there is something very welcoming and incredibly powerful about the event.”

The first Darkness into Light event took place in Phoenix Park in 2009 with 400 people taking part. Now, 14 years later, the annual event sees hundreds of thousands of people globally come together to walk 5km from darkness through to sunrise symbolising the journey from despair to hope.

Locally, people right across Northern Ireland, from Hannahstown to Ormeau Road, Newtownabbey to Armagh, Derry to Newry, are invited to sign up to participate in one of the organised walks in their area, or to run, swim or cycle in their own time or even take on a special challenge to raise much-needed funds for local mental health charities in their area.

 “As soon as I signed on as ambassador, I knew I wanted to do more, I wanted to do something special to raise money for this extremely important cause,” says Anna.

“My work has always been a way for me to express emotion. It has provided me with solace through difficult times, and allowed me to express myself – I often find it easier to communicate with colour than with words.”

So, Anna set about taking part in her own special challenge and created an original piece of artwork to be raffled off to raise money for Darkness into Light’s 14 partner charities in Northern Ireland.

She explains: “The bespoke oil painting I created is entitled ‘Cavehill at Sunrise’. As an artist, I have always been drawn to the energy that exists within the landscape.

“The Celts referred to the relationship with the land as the ‘sisterhood of nature and the soul’ believing it had the power to heal and nurture. The profile of Cavehill is visible from almost everywhere in Belfast and recognisable across all of Northern Ireland.

“It has become ingrained into the social and cultural history of the city and so it was important for me to incorporate this grounding landscape that looks out over Belfast into the piece.

“I added texture and depth with heavy layers of oil to depict the basalt cliffs and caves. I purposely made these bold and solid – highlighting their strength. I emphasised the colour of the sunrise and added intense pops of brightly coloured highlight.

“The overriding energy I wanted to depict was one of hope, strength, light – a vibrant sunrise stretching over our city.”

Anna explains people can log on to her ‘idonate’ page to make a donation and be entered into the raffle: “The more tickets people buy, the more chances they have of winning and ultimately the more money we will raise for this important cause.

“One hundred percent of the money raised from the piece will be donated to mental health charities working to support those impacted by suicide in local communities across Northern Ireland.” 

Anyone wishing to register for the Darkness into Light event can do so at www.darknessintolight.com or to help Anna fundraise and be in with a chance of winning Cavehill at Sunrise visit https://www.idonate.ie/raffle/AnnaMcKeeverDILPainting.