Cord Fundraiser is an annual art fundraising event which truly makes a difference. Showcasing a talented selection of local, national and international artists in a bid or be out-bid auction format, the event is a unique and engaging way to show art and raise money for charity. Generously, 100% of funds raised are donated to Perth’s Fiona Stanley Hospital’s Spinal Cord Injury Unit. Hot tip: Bid fast, bid bold and bid high.

The mastermind behind the event, Jos Franciscus, is a self confessed ‘crazy’ dog lover, art fanatic and quite simply, a beautiful person. Trained as an occupational therapist, her nine to five was spent helping people – her skill set now taking on a new life through Cord. Following a freak holiday accident, Jos was left paralysed from the torso down. Despite her life changing injury, Jos has adapted, reformed and now uses her unique patient/professional experience to help inspire and empower other spinal cord injury patients.

We recently grabbed a coffee and asked her about Cord, what we should expect from this year’s event and who she’s bidding on.

Hi Jos, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m the director, curator, and general dogs body for a little fundraiser dear to my heart called Cord. I’m also a new mum. So life is a juggling act of love projects, currently. I guess I should mention I also have quadriplegia which is a break to the spinal cord at the neck – this, and my background as an occupational therapist has been the catalyst for Cord, which raises funds for the spinal cord injury unit at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

You have such an inspirational outlook on life. How has your accident contributed positively to this perspective?
Oh geez, I never feel comfortable with the term inspirational, but thank you. For me, it’s just about getting on with things. However, undeniably my accident and subsequent disability has been a wake up call in many facets of my life which has made me grateful for the small things and for being alive.  It’s taught me that you can only change the things immediately in the present, and to concentrate on that. To be honest, I’m doing more than I dreamed imaginable when I think back to how severe my accident was 6 years ago. It’s also made me acutely aware that there are people in a far worse situation than yourself. I have to also attribute a good dose of my outlook to my wonderful parents, husband and friends who’ve supported me to no end over the years since my accident. I do feel incredibly fortunate despite everything that’s happened.

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Art by KIM KIM KIM

You are the mastermind behind the charity art phenomenon Cord. How did it all start?
It started the week I left hospital in Queensland where I had my accident. I was given a first gen iPad and suddenly a whole world of independence opened up for me. Due to the fact I have arm movement but no finger/hand function, it gave me back a range of things I could do on my own without assistance. It got me thinking how life-changing technology and that right piece of equipment can be in the lives of people with SCI. So I wanted to give back to the hospital and people who were battling with a new injury by giving them access to better technology and equipment. I chose an art auction because I’m a great lover of art and in particular graffiti and street art. So I guess, I indulgently combined the two! I held the first ART for SPINE in 2010, ran it for 3 years before moving back home to Perth and re-branding to Cord.

There is a sense of true meaning behind Cord. What is the premise behind Take A Seat?
Ha, well the title this year was sparked by an incident that happened a few days before last year’s Cord. My wheelchair broke down and I freaked out a little because the thought of not being able to get around on such an important and busy day was very stressful. But it got me thinking in a broader sense just how much a wheelchair affords me and other users, not only independence but the ability to interact with and be meaningful contributing members of society. It annoys me that the term ‘confined to a wheelchair’ is used so flippantly, as it puts an inaccurate negative spin on being in a wheelchair. Ask any wheelchair user and their wheelchair is usually their most prized possession as it’s their ‘legs’. So the theme of ‘Take a Seat’ is really about taking back that power and celebrating those who live a seated life.

Like it’s predecessors, this year’s artist list is remarkable. How were you able to assemble such a talented group?
It surprises me every year just how easy this is to do and I think it comes down to the fact all the artists are very VERY nice people. I’m still in shock they say yes, every time I ask. It’s a great privilege to have artists of their calibre wanting to be collaborative with Cord. They donate their time, creativity and materials to create their artworks. More impressively, most of them don’t know anyone with a SCI either, most of them have just jumped on board wanting to help out.

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Art by Brenton See

What can we expect to see from this year’s event?
More than ever, there’s a lot of collabs going on this year with Perth creatives. Empire Homewares have donated some stools which some of the artists are creating work on and we have 18 artists creating 1x1m original artworks on canvas. There’s so many silent auction items this year, with over 40 in total. Perth City Farm is such a beautiful backdrop for the event too which will see us host a range of DJs and the wonderfully talented Cian Caton and her live band. Soul Provider are providing the southern style food and we’re very thankful Gage has returned as drinks sponsors to supply the beers!

What kind of impact do you think Cord has had on the local art community?
I hope that it’s been a platform for emerging artists and given the broader public an opportunity to experience their art. Hopefully it shows Perth that art collecting doesn’t have to be out of reach, that everyone can own a piece of art that they love. Also that the pool of talent locally is very impressive indeed.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of attending a Cord event, run us through the auction system.
It’s amusing for me to observe newcomers to auctions as they start so reservedly and by the end of the night you can’t stop them. To give a quick run down, I encourage people to arrive by 8:30pm to register at the front desk and receive a bidding number. From there they view the artwork and decide on their favourites they’d like to bid on. Beyond that, they hold their bidding cards high when they want to bid, and pay at the end. With the silent auction they do the same but write down their bids and at 10:30pm we finish the auction.

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Art by Peche

You are very passionate and determined to ensure the funds raised are used for spinal cord injury technology opposed to research. Why is this so important to you?
I would never rule out giving money to research however I just think so much emphasis is placed on finding a cure for SCI that the everyday things that make a difference are overlooked. I think technology and equipment are crucial in giving independence in the here and now.

Be biased, who’s piece will you be bidding on?

Haha, trick question! It’s like picking a favourite child but I do have a love of classic nudes. This year Rose Church, Kim Kim Kim, Monday and Anna McEachran have painted some stunning ones. But as yet I’m undecided of which ones I’ll bid on, they’re all so good.

Cord will be held at Perth City Farm on Saturday the 28th of May. Grab your tickets here and find more info here.