Affordable Art Fair 2017 in Hampstead
Famed for bridging the gap between would-be art collectors and the often inaccessible world of art commerce, the Affordable Art Fair returns with its Hampstead edition once again to provide an exciting alternative for those who find standard art fairs to be excessively exclusive. With over a thousand original works and price tags ranging between £100 and £6,000, the popular London event makes collecting art a real possibility for many who cannot usually get involved in the game.
Assigning lower prices to valuable works is a way to democratise art-buying so that it becomes the domain of all, or at least of a larger pool of people. On this occasion, the fair’s core aim of promoting inclusion gains an added layer of value as the theme of the year is internationalism. By stressing the links between the works displayed and the cultural crossovers that have inspired and led to their production, the organisers wish to highlight the vital role that global connections play within the art community.
With this in mind, there are many new and returning international names adding an extra wave of novelty and variety. From Australia’s Aboriginal Art Galleries displaying arresting, colourful pieces to the Hanoi Art House and Hanga Ten showcasing elegant portraits and Japanese prints respectively, the overall viewing experience becomes a fun, globe-trotting affair. There is also a focus on London as a creative hub, and a general awareness of the current political and social climate.
For the fifth year running, Made In Arts London showcases emerging artists. The works displayed in this section are a mixed bag, with paintings faring better than photographs. The project remains valuable, however, in that it eases recent graduates into the industry, giving them experience and exposure. The quirkiest stop at the fair, in fact, is by up-and-coming photographer Alma Haser; her Dog Photobooth is a pop-up studio that gives dog owners a chance to have unique and fun portraits of their pets.
The winning factor of the Affordable Art Fair is that it is not only the prices that are starter-friendly, but the event as a whole is set up in a way that facilitates the selecting, the purchasing and the immediate packaging of the artworks acquired. Advice is at hand if need be and even the fair’s guide has useful tips for beginners about collecting photographs and the basic rules for evaluating their quality. In short, the event is so well-oiled that the novice collector will feel supported from beginning to end, while seasoned buyers can easily float through the process, and everyone can indulge in the viewing experience at leisure.
An online platform allows visitors to extend the experience by browsing additional artworks and following one’s favourite artists and galleries, while a set of workshops, talks and art course tasters on site will keep visitors busy and fully involved.
As with all fairs, the buzz can be overwhelming and the incessant activity can distract and seem at odds with the quiet presence of the artworks. Nevertheless, there is pleasure in finding that some pieces attract in spite of the surrounding noise and that they open an outlet for the mind to dream and wander. The fair combines the majesty of galleries with the animation of markets, making the experience pleasing, approachable, and inevitably inspiring.
Photos: Erol Birsen
The Affordable Art Fair is at Lower Fairground Site, Hampstead from 11th until 14th May 2017, for further information or to book visit here.