Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Monday, 4 May 2009 13:47 UK

Raffle for Howson's Burns picture

Peter Howson in front of the pixalated painting
There is no limit on the number of pixels that can be bought by individuals

A secret painting by the Scots artist Peter Howson is being used as a fundraiser for the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

The portrait of the poet, estimated to be worth £50,000, has been blanked out with more than 12,000 blocks of pixels.

Anyone buying an online block, which costs £10, will be entered into a draw to win the 6ft x 4ft canvas.

Money raised will go to the National Trust for Scotland's new £21m museum in Alloway, Ayrshire, which opens in 2010.

As each block is purchased a piece of the painting will be revealed.

It will go on temporary display at the new museum when it opens next summer, before being handed over to the winner the following month.

The museum in the village where Burns was born in 1759 will replace an existing museum which is in disrepair.

The project will also see the restoration of the cottage where he was born.

This painting is absolutely magnificent and everything you would expect of a Howson
Nat Edwards
Museum director

Howson, who is also from Ayrshire, collaborated with the National Trust Scotland (NTS) to help raise the remaining £3.8m needed for the project.

He said it was close to his heart because he has always been a fan of Burns.

"When I was asked to get involved in this project it provided me with the perfect opportunity to help raise money for the creation of the new museum and raise awareness of the campaign," he said.

"Due to the nature and secrecy of the painting I can only say that the painting is in-keeping with the style of my work and portrays Burns in a light that he has never been seen in before.

"The 'raffle' concept for the fundraiser will enable someone, at any location across the world, to win a piece of my work - and own a painting of the great man himself."

'Completely unique'

Museum director Nat Edwards said: "Burns has been painted many times, however this painting is absolutely magnificent and everything you would expect of a Howson.

"It is completely unique and truly breathtaking and demonstrates that Burns continues to inspire many present-day artists, writers and musicians."

Howson is renowned for his powerful figurative work which has been collected by celebrities such as Madonna, David Bowie and Bob Geldof.

He became established in the 1980s as one of the New Glasgow Boys, a group of painters concerned with portraying social issues.

During the Balkans conflict, the 51-year-old became the official war artist.

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