‘The Affordable Art Fair’… Bye Bye Savings.

I don’t usually post at the weekend, but I didn’t want you to miss out on the Affordable Art Fair, so I’ve thrown my usual vow-of-weekend-silence out of the window.

Calm Before the Storm – Pam Glew (bleaching technique and dye on vintate union jack)

The AAF was set up in 1996, and has since become a global phenomenon. It aims to “bridge the increasing interest in contemporary art and the London gallery scene”, so you can view a huge variety of art in one place at prices you can actually afford, by concentrating on relatively unknown artists not carrying a premium for reputation. AMAZING! I hear you scream. It’s currently exhibiting in a big white tent on Hampstead Heath, in walking distance from mine and Tom’s flat, so we trotted on down on Friday.

Utterly free from pretension, you can wander around the huge, light-filled space at will. The art work all costs between £40 and £4,000, though I must say I didn’t see anything for less than £150. Helpful curators will fill in the blanks if you show a particular interest in an artist or a specific painting, but most visitors seem happy to treat it like a contemporary art gallery (rather than a shop). I like shopping though. I really do. To Tom’s horror…

Unfortunately mine and Tom’s taste in art is radically different. He likes abstract paintings, I prefer clarity and detail. He likes wild, rugged landscapes, I like pretty images with dark undertones. This is a good thing though, as it means we didn’t spend more. Photos below of my favourite pieces, and of the piece that we did manage to agree on and purchase. Larger paintings and photographs are not done justice at all by my photography, so you really must go and see them for yourself. My only advice would be to buy what you like, not what you think will be worth something in ten years time. Bringing art into your home is like creating a new member of the family. You’ll also have to stare at it every day remember, so if you don’t love it then you shouldn’t have it in your house.

Jellyfish – Katharine Morling (porcelain and black stain)

Seated Nude Couple – Pierre Williams (blue and white ceramic)

Harpy – Aidan Harte (bronze)

Dawn Over Bagan – James Sparshatt (archival print on German etch paper)

Todos Mis Vecinos Quieren ir al Cielo – Ernesto Fernandez Zalacain (photo sculpture)

Succulent, Java, Fungi, Durian, Agave, Jade – Heather Knight (ceramic, porcelain, hand-built unglazed)

Il Postino, Red Rose and Emily-Rose – Paul Charlton (acrylic on panel)

The Path – Veda Hallowes (bronze)

Gazer – Veda Hallowes (bronze)

The Conversation – Clair Partington (earthenware, glaze, enamel, lustre and mixed media)

various – Katharine Morling

Awake – Katharine Morling (porcelain and black stain)

The Queen’s Armada – Kirsty Mitchell (archival pigment print on 360gsm Hahnemuhle Pearl)

Gammelyn’s Daughter a Waking Dream – Kirsty Mitchell (archival pigment print on 360gsm Hahnemuhle Pearl)

Calamity – Ray Caesar (Pigment Print on Epson Ultrasmooth)

Like a Feather – Antonio Lopez Reche (bronze)

Blue Bond (top left) – Amy Judd (oil on canvas)

(skirt from Dubarry, top from Reiss, bag from Zara, shoes from M&S, bracelet from V&A shop, in case anyone is interested)

I would happily have bought any and all of the above pieces, but we decided to be sensible and limit ourselves to one purchase (don’t look so incredulous, Tom’s influence on our – joint – finances is sufficiently significant to enforce this!) At first he was incredulous that I thought spending over £100 on a piece of art was a good idea. After a couple of glasses of veuve clicquot, however, he came round, and we purchased the most beautiful piece by Alexander Korzer-Robinson.

My ‘I’ve got my purse out now, so there’s no going back’ face.

Brockhaus 6, 1904 (cut encyclopedia, 25cm x 17cm x 6cm)

A vintage encyclopedia, images from which have been carefully selected for inclusion in a three-dimensional montage, formed through incision and excision. It’s like being able to see the world inside of a book, without plot or narrative to explicate the extraordinary jumble of images that exist before we turn them into a story by progressing through the text in a linear fashion. I’d never thought about books like this before – it’s similar to the realisation that time was perceived as being cyclical in the medieval period rather than linear. By using older books, Korzer-Robinson’s work aims to be simultaneously an exploration and a deconstruction of nostalgia, and I find this spotlighting of the effects and distortions of memory and perspective fascinating. What do you think?

The Affordable Art Fair is on 13th-16th June 2013, near Hampstead Heath station. £12 on the door, £10 for tickets purchased in advance. If you’re in London this weekend you shouldn’t miss it!

Has anyone else taken that first step into art collecting?

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14 thoughts on “‘The Affordable Art Fair’… Bye Bye Savings.

    • It is beautiful – I imagine this is what it feels like when you bring a newborn baby home. You’re not completely sure what to do with it, but you do really love looking at it. Jx

  1. I love this idea of having art fairs that sell affordable art. It is such a nice change and it is actually what I am attempting to set up in San Francisco on a much smaller scale. I love the piece you purchased, it such a creative idea and yet it makes perfect sense.

    • It was exciting to go from viewer to buyer – it just isn’t a concept most people ever consider, but I think they should! Having art around you stimulates your mind. It influences your psychology, and inspires you. Jx

    • Thanks, it was an interesting experience. Being able to afford (some of) the art work brought a completely new dimension to ‘viewing art’, that I’d never really experienced before. Jx

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  5. That’s a lovely piece – congrats! If you’re interested in artists who use books as their material, you should check out Su Blackwell’s work (sadly, rather less affordable)…

    Your post reminded me of the first time I bought a piece of art – a print by one of the artists I was studying for my PhD. I remember being nervous crossing the dealer’s threshold (it was an old and venerable one in Paris) but they couldn’t have been nicer – I explained I was a student with a minuscule budget and they didn’t bat an eye. I’ve lived with the print for seven years now and it’s still thrilling to see it on my wall.

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