Collect like an expert

At the Affordable Art Fair we’re firm believers that anyone can collect art. But, for those of us who aren’t au fait with the ways of the art world, dipping your toe into the market can feel like a daunting experience.

So, just how do you overcome the dreaded FOBRO (a.k.a. Fear Of Being Ripped Off), and how do you know, before you take the plunge, that the piece you’re purchasing is really the one for you? We’ve been chatting with some of our gallerists and have complied a list of things to do and questions to ask to help you collect like an expert …

1. Explore the options
Explore as much as you can at the fair and get an overview of the range of artworks on offer. As Mark Jason, of Mark Jason Gallery, explains, ‘do some research, take your time. See as much work as you can, and make a note of your top 5-10 pieces.’ Comparing works also gives you an idea of what’s available in your price range. Mark continues, ‘buy the best piece you can in your budget … sometimes it’s a case of buying a major work by a minor artist or if your budget is modest, a minor piece by a major artist.’

2. Get to know the artist
One of the most exciting parts of collecting contemporary art is discovering unknown and emerging artists, and it’s important to get to know as much as you can about their status and background. As Angie Davey, Creative Director of Eyestorm, points out reputation is key: ‘the first factor that effects artwork pricing is probably the artist’s name … ask where they studied, where they currently are in their career and where they’ve shown their work recently’.

Outline Editions, Malika Favre, Susie3. Embrace the unconventional   
Don’t buy an artwork because you think it’s what you should be buying; if an unusual work captures your imagination, go for it. As Mark Jason says, ‘on many occasions people arrive at the fair looking for something quite specific and leave with something completely different. You really don’t know what your reaction is going to be to an artwork until you see it.’ Who knows, you could have just spotted a future masterpiece!

4. Examine the materials
As Diane Tuckey of Outline Editons says, ‘an artwork’s materials can have a big impact on pricing. For example, we’ve sold pieces by an artist which command a considerably higher price than her normal works because they were done in gold leaf – the resultant art is priced to reflect these material costs.’

Eyestorm, Jacky Tsai, Chinese Floral Skull5. Be confident in the originality
At the Affordable Art Fair all artwork on show is original, so there’s no need to worry that your investment isn’t unique. However, for limited edition prints, there are certain factors to be aware of to give you confidence in your purchase. As Angie Davey explains, ‘a limited edition print from a run of five will be valued higher than a print in an edition of 50, even if it’s the same size and by the same artist. This is because there are fewer of that particular print and it’s therefore rarer – fewer people in the world will have it.’

6. Value your personal reaction
As Diane Tuckey concludes, ‘the best reason for buying an artwork is the obvious one: because you like it’. Collecting art is, ultimately, about developing and learning to trust your taste, and as Angie Davey declares, there is such a thing as ‘love at first sight when it comes to art!’

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It’s a gallery affair

At each edition of the Affordable Art Fair we welcome over 110 carefully selected galleries from across the globe to showcase the best of what their artists have to offer. Between them, these galleries represent an impressive 1,100 artists, and are dedicated to nurturing and showcasing their work to the widest possible art loving audiences.

As an organisation that champions galleries, we’re frequently asked why are galleries so important to the art industry? To get the lowdown, we’ve caught up with two Affordable Art Fair galleries and their artists to get the insider info on the crucial, fascinating relationship between artist and gallerist.

Caiger Contemporary Art
Amy Caiger heads up Caiger Contemporary Art, a nomadic gallery which represents a small, carefully selected, group of contemporary artists. Amongst them are Blandine Bardeau, who uses a variety of unusual media to create her semi-abstract works, and Rod McIntosh, whose material-driven works focus on the process of mark making.

What’s the selection procedure for the gallery?
Caiger Contemporary Art, Blandine Bardeau, Your Smile is Beautiful and it Makes Me HappyAmy: We spend a lot of time researching and going to see new artists’ work. We look for something that catches our eye, and then consider how it would fit with other works in our gallery. Sometimes artists also contact us directly if they think they’d be a good fit for our gallery. Either way, the work needs to speak to us, we have to love it. Then, once we’ve spoken with the artist, and are sure we’d have a great working relationship, we’ll ask them on board.

As an artist, how and why do you look for gallery representation?
Blandine: My meeting with Caiger Contemporary Art was through Twitter initially, in a typical 21st century fashion! After a few interactions online I looked them up and liked what I saw, so invited them to one of my shows – we chatted there and they asked me to come on board. For me, it was as much about the artists they represent as it was about the feeling I got from interacting with them; it’s important that something clicks, and that you’re on the same page I think.

Rod: I did lots of research initially and drew up a shortlist of galleries where I felt my work could fit. From there I started to build up relationships with the gallerists and it then became more of a mutual selection process between me, them and my work.

Other than representing artists work to clients, as a gallery, how else do you work with your artists?
Caiger Contemporary Art, Rod McIntosh, Never the SameAmy: We ask our artists what they are hoping to achieve each year – this may be a creative goal, or something more unusual – and we see how we can support them with this. We’re also always on hand to advise our artists whenever they need it, perhaps on a new body of work, trying out new sizes, framing or prices. We also like to plan projects that would be good for our artists to help them in other areas such as their CV or growing their reputation.

Blandine: We also get a lot of feedback from the gallery which I really take in to consideration. I like to hear how customers react to my work, as well as hearing Amy and her colleagues’ opinions on my new works. They understand my work very well and it’s great to talk through my plans for future pieces, as well as sizes and prices. I like that they are really approachable, that Caiger Contemporary Art is a family business – I was there close to their beginnings and there’s a real sense that we’re growing together.

Rod: Likewise, I meet with the gallery regularly to review and plan. It allows me to present new ideas, get feedback and throw ambitious, wild-card ideas at them and see how we could work together to achieve them.

Why do you think galleries are important?
Amy: I think they’re important for both the client and the artist. For the client, we’re knowledgeable about our artists and a trustworthy source they can go to. In effect we’re giving our artists a stamp of approval – as a gallery we endorse the high standard and value of their work. We’re also there to help and advise clients on artworks, especially if they’re new to collecting or aren’t sure what would best suit their space.

Galleries are important for artists as it means they can get on with what they do best, making art! We take the strain off them by marketing their work and showing it to clients. We’re also able to talk about their work with enthusiasm and without feeling self-conscious, as a lot of artists can when discussing their own work. And, of course, we’re here to help and support them in their work and career.

Gala Fine Art
Kate Bignold launched online gallery Gala Fine Art in 2015 and currently represents an exciting group of 11 British and Irish artists. Amongst them are Annette Pugh, who explores the relationship between photography and painting, and Clare Bonnet, who paints candid portraits of semi-abstract female figures.

What’s the selection procedure for the gallery?
Gala Fine Art, Annette Pugh, Riviera BayKate: There’s no set procedure; I spend a lot of time talent spotting at open studio events, degree shows and open submission exhibitions. I might stumble across a new artist when researching an existing gallery artist or when visiting their studio. The artists I represent typically juxtapose traditional painting or photography with modern or unconventional processes; I’m always on the lookout for work that boasts a very individual creative style.

As an artist, how and why do you look for gallery representation?
Annette: Kate saw my work at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol and got in contact. I then set up a meeting to learn more about Kate’s intentions for Gala Fine Art, and her stable of artists. Like Kate, I’m interested in the interaction between painting and photography, so I felt we had a strong common ground for a working relationship.

Clare: Kate also approached me initially, having seen my work at Jamaica Street Studios in Bristol. From the word go I could see Kate had a vision for the gallery that really suited my work. It also helps that we get on well, so can be completely honest with each other.

Other than representing artists work to clients, as a gallery, how else do you work with your artists?
Gala Fine Art, Clare Bonnet, Wallowing in the WaitKate: Essentially my mission is to support artists at all stages of their careers both on a practical level, by providing them with a platform to sell their work, but also on a personal and creative level, by offering encouragement and advice, and feedback about their work and its reception.

Clare: We talk … a lot! Kate holds a genuine interest in how work is made and developed, but she also respects the creative decision-making process, so will never impose an idea. Her diplomacy skills are impeccable!

Why do you think galleries are important?
Kate: Galleries, whether online – as we are – or bricks-and-mortar, play a vital role. Their support lends artists third-party credibility. Particularly in a social media age of self-publicity, gallery representation provides art collectors with a seal of approval. Galleries show their artists work to well-targeted interested audiences, and, of course, galleries shoulder the costs and administration involved in putting on exhibitions giving artists the chance to focus fully on the actual creation of the work.

Clare: Kate works so hard on our behalf! My paintings are relatively large, so I always admire the fact she transport them all around the country to show for me. I also trust Kate implicity, which is important for this kind of working relationship. Being part of a gallery that represents such talent is also an honour.

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Home is where the art is

The first two decades of the twenty-first century have seen more people than ever being given the opportunity to fall in love with, and collect, art. Investing in art was previously seen solely as the domain of the super-wealthy, confidently waving away millions in auction houses. However, the global explosion of art fairs and opportunities to discover work online, has presented a plethora of exciting new ways for art lovers, regardless of budget and background, to dip their toes into the market and purchase pieces for their homes.

Manifold Editions, Elizabeth Magill, HinterProviding people with the opportunity to become an art collector is at the heart of the Affordable Art Fair ethos. We’ve been chatting to some of our wonderful galleries and visitors to discover why collecting art has become such a popular activity, and to find out why having original art in your home provides such a unique pleasure …

Bath-based Rostra Gallery are well known for offering accessible original artworks, and are firm Affordable Art Fair favourites. For Gallery Manager Rebecca Darch it is the potential to personalize a home with art that makes collecting so appealing.

Rostra Gallery, Clare Halifax, Battersea Power StationRebecca introduced us to one customer, Isabel Morley, whose collection holds an intensely personal significance. Having bought three pieces from Rostra Gallery, Isabel recalls, ‘the first, by Trevor Price, reminds me of my youth – dancing around and having fun – and I see it as soon as I wake up in the morning, which instantly puts me in a good mood.’ Of the other works she says: ‘The second piece is a beautiful screen print by Graham Carter. It reminds me of the Scottish Highlands where I spent a long time working and soaking up the scenery; I could get lost in the detail of this work for hours. The third work is by Clare Halifax, of the gorgeous city of Bath where I live now. I couldn’t be happier to be surrounded by such amazing artworks every day.’

WAW, Jonathan Pocock, Glass of RosesFor another fair visitor, Honor Stanley, the process of buying the work was an integral, and exciting, part of becoming a collector. She recalls, ‘my husband and I bought our first piece of art at the Affordable Art Fair, having just moved in to our new home together in Battersea. We spent the whole evening at the fair, champagne in hand, going up and down the aisles looking for the perfect picture.’ She continues, ‘inevitably we found it on the last stand, as we were about the leave! The large abstract oil painting now hangs in our living room. I love it because it was the first picture (of many!) that we chose and bought together.’

Hadfield Fine Art, David O'Connor, Blue HillsSally Coelho, founder of Cotswold-based gallery Hadfield Fine Art, agrees that collecting art can serve as a beautiful, personal reminder of a particular time in our lives. Sally says: ‘It goes without saying that art can visually transform the appearance and atmosphere of a home, but one cannot assume that art is merely decoration. There is something far more subliminal in our choices. Art is more like a personal treasure that transcends the constraints of our four walls. It can be a marker in the passage of time following us from house to house; lifting the humble surroundings of our first flat, through to our family home, then on to our later years. It can be a reflection of our personality, tastes and memories.’

Sally concludes, ‘if we surround ourselves with these treasures, we transform our houses into environments in which we feel intensely comfortable, relaxed and, really truly, at home’.

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Meet the galleries: Contemporary Collective

Having made their Affordable Art Fair debut as part of the Project Space Collective last spring, we’re delighted that Contemporary Collective will be returning to the fair this March to showcase their exciting selection of early-career artists.

We’ve caught up with their Head of Creative Development and Sales, Chantelle Purcell, amidst their fair preparations to hear the gallery’s backstory and to get the low down on what we can expect to see from them next week …

1. So, tell us a bit about Contemporary Collective.

Mengyao Guo, City Plan Iceland 3Contemporary Collective was founded in 2006 by Elinor Olisa and Isobel Beauchamp to represent artists who have risen through the ranks of our other gallery, DegreeArt.com, and require representation at a new level for the increased benefit of their careers as established artists. All of our represented artists have achieved notable successes both through DegreeArt.com and in their own right.

We now champion the careers of emerging and newly established artists internationally, allowing collectors’ insider access to the most promising talent that exists today. 

2. How do you select the artists you represent?

Claudio De Giovanni, Spinning AbyssCurrently the artists are hand selected by the directors and curators of DegreeArt.com. We have an advisory panel, who are involved in the selection of new artists, meeting twice a year to provide feedback and guidance to benefit the direction and development of their careers.

3. Most exciting thing about working with contemporary artists?

Contemporary artists are constantly challenging conventions, it’s incredibly inspiring to be around innovators, you never know quite what to expect!

4. Most memorable moment for the gallery so far?

Harriet Horton, DawnNick Lord winning the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the year award in 2013 and Edward Sutcliffe winning the notable BP Portrait Travel Award in 2014. We also thoroughly enjoyed launching our brand at last year’s spring edition of the Affordable Art Fair Battersea where we were lucky enough to showcase an ambitious eight-metre wide installation piece within the fair’s Project Space Collective. 

5. Do you collect art yourself? 

Yes, I love working within the contemporary art sector and I’m constantly inspired by new art. I have quite a wide collection of artworks and I love pieces showcasing innovative processes and new techniques. My favourite piece is a recent commission by Claire Luxton, whose work we’ll be exhibiting at the fair. She created a stunning abstract painting made from epoxy resin, inspired by Avalon. 

6. Who should we look out for at the fair? 

Luke Walker, Work In Process VIII (In God we Trust)Our top three picks on our stand (A8) would be Chinese artist Mengyao Guo (whose fantastic painting was featured in the Affordable Art Fair campaign image for this spring) – her colourful geometric paintings are the perfect statement piece. Multi-disciplinary artist Claire Luxton, who explores the nuances of transformation and aesthetics will be displaying her new series of resin paintings and iconic fashion inspired portraits. And, last but not least, Luke Walker’s poignant, architectural paintings that capture the evolving nature of the city.

If you’re looking for inspiration around the rest of the fair my top tip would be to look out for artists who are not afraid to experiment and challenge their process of working.

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What’s on my walls? … A sneak peek at the collections of the Affordable Art Fair team

At the Affordable Art Fair we’re firm believers that living with art not only enriches your home, but your day-to-day life, too. And, as an office full of art lovers, we’re all practicing what we preach.

Luci Noel, Fair DirectorOur ‘What’s on my walls?’ series gives you a sneak peek at the collections of the Affordable Art Fair team, and the stories behind the artworks we have in our homes. Next up is Fair Director, Luci Noel, who uses her collection to personalise her space.

Ramona Czygan, Martin Grover and Lucinda Metcalfe

Luci Noel, What's On My Walls“I’m a real stickler for rearranging my very small flat and also have very few walls to work with! Using shelves and layering artworks enables me to be quite playful with my collection and also change it up whenever I get the urge. I bought three of these pieces at Affordable Art Fairs – the beautiful cyanotype print on the left, by Ramona Czygan, is called ‘Pieces of Nowhere – Cloud’; I think the monotone colour works beautifully when placed next to the acidic hues in Lucinda Metcalfe’s painting on the right, ‘Life Changing’. Tucked away at the back there is Martin Grover’s ‘North London Procrastination Club’ print – I’m a north Londoner born and bred, and this was a gift for my boyfriend when he finally moved to the city.”

‘Crane 30′ by Andrew Lansley

Luci Noel, What's on my walls“This one is a relatively new addition to my collection. We are big crane fans and seem to have amassed quite a collection of related imagery! I love the way they very elegantly interject into the skyline; the sense of excitement for an ever moving city. In this painting I love the flattened perspective of the crane itself, and the simplified geometry of the cabin as a focus not the spindly elegance of the whole machine. The piece is painted in the traditional medium of egg tempera, which gives it a really delicate matte surface, too.”

Barry Cawston, Charles Emerson and Susan Laughton

Luci Noel, What's on my walls“I’m a big fan of a cloudscape; I’ve collected quite a few from fairs over the years. Our tiny north facing bedroom window doesn’t have the most exciting of views – these are my morning skies to get lost in. The two framed pieces are photographs – I like the bold thunderous forms of Barry Cawston’s ‘Monday Dream of Sunday’ next to Charles Emerson’s far more delicately coloured piece from his ‘Sky Studies’ series. Below is Susan Laughton’s ‘Dividing Land I’ – this is painted in acrylic on plaster board, and is made up of really subtle fine marks, giving just a hint of a landscape. I love it.”

‘A Study’ by Gavan McCullough

Luci Noel, What's on my walls“I love the way Gavan builds up his landscapes in coloured strata to create these really structured but beautiful images. I’ve displayed this piece below my framed vintage maps; I think they really bring out the ambiguity of the place, which although semi-abstracted still has a sense of specificity and familiarity.”

Feeling inspired to start your own collection? Join us in Battersea from 10 – 13 March to add a splash of art.

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Meet the galleries: PH2 Gallery

London-based Panter & Hall gallery are firm Affordable Art Fair favourites, and this spring they’re returning to Battersea to showcase some of their most exciting concept-led artists whose work forms the basis of their secondary space PH2 Gallery.

We’ve been chatting to Matthew Hall, one half of the duo behind Panter & Hall, to hear about their exciting new space, and get the lowdown on the story behind the gallery …

Tell us a bit about how Panter & Hall first started …

PH2 Gallery, Alan Kingsbury, Silver teapot and postcardI started the gallery back in 2000, alongside Tiffany Panter. We’d worked together for a few years at another gallery and found that we held the same business philosophy and almost identical taste in artists, so it seemed a natural progression to open a gallery together.

We started out in a small Georgian shop in Shepherd’s Market with virtually no passing trade, so we had to work hard to make the gallery more of a destination. Art fairs were such a great way to do this and really helped us get started in the early years.

Over sixteen years our taste in art has remained fairly static as Panter & Hall, however we also now run a secondary space – PH2 Gallery, below our current Pall Mall space – and we have a lot of fun with conceptual and photographic exhibitions through our annual programme there.

At both Panter & Hall and PH2 we show an eclectic mix of largely figurative paintings and drawings, principally by British artists. In choosing artists, primarily Tiffany and I have to like the work – even if it’s not always something we’d choose for our own homes, it’s always something we’d be proud to sell to our friends.

How has the art world changed since you started out and how has this affected the gallery?

Over the last 25 years I’ve personally watched the art market change beyond recognition, from the early 1990s when public perception of contemporary art was almost entirely restricted to Ken Howard studio nudes (excellent though they are!) to the Sensation exhibition and the unleashing of the YBA’s at the end of the same decade.

Far more people than ever before are actively buying art, whether as pure decoration or for investment, particularly amongst the younger generations. There seems to be a definite rise of interest in skill based artwork, whether original printmaking or simply drawing and painting, as clients are growing in confidence and learning to trust their own judgement.

Favourite thing about running a gallery?

PH2 Gallery, Alan Kingsbury, Tempranillo IIINot knowing what will happen next. We have the most unpredictable and tricky to plan business – tastes change and shows that sell out one year often don’t the next, and vice versa. Opportunities arrive daily whilst carefully laid plans dissolve just as frequently … life is never boring in the gallery!

Biggest achievement for the gallery so far?

That we are still here. My favourite phrase was coined in the last recession by a New York gallery owner: ‘Surviving is the new flourishing!’

Favourite thing about showing at art fairs?

The social aspect; half the chat at London-based fairs is catching up with old friends and acquaintances we haven’t seen for years. Also the opportunity to spend a week away living on chocolate based confectionary out of sight of my wife!

What can we expect to see from PH2 Gallery at the Battersea fair this spring?

Some cracking thickly painted figurative still life paintings by Cornish painter Alan Kingsbury. He’s been one of our top sellers this January, so we’re expecting great things from him this spring!

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Meet the artists: Emilie Taylor

Emilie Taylor, The Cynthia Corbett GalleryUp and coming ceramic artist Emilie Taylor is one of the most exciting new additions to the Affordable Art Fair this spring. Her pots, heavily subject-driven and created using heritage craft processes, have received much acclaim and will be shown in Battersea amongst Cynthia Corbett Gallery’s coveted selection of Young Masters.

We’ve caught up with Emilie ahead of the fair to hear the fascinating stories and inspirations behind her pots …

 

Tell us a bit about your practice …

Emilie Taylor, The Cynthia Corbett GalleryI hand build, using coils, large pots that tell stories about people’s lives or offer a comment on society. I use traditional slip and sgraffito techniques (building up and scratching away coloured layers) to draw narratives onto the surfaces of the pots. Gold lustres are then used to highlight moments of humanity, reflection and spirituality within my subjects.

I use images drawn from Modernist housing estates, often developed through my work with local communities (for example young teenage boys, or groups of pigeon fanciers who meet in estate lofts), and depict these on my pots. I create outlines in iron oxide – the rust and the gold sit together with equal importance, in imagery that combines a traditional English aesthetic with elements of Renaissance iconography.

I love how Sara Roberts described my work in the 2013 Ceramics Illustrated catalogue: ‘Rich, lustred surfaces overlay a gritty reality in which track-suited figures are depicted with some of the glories of classical poses and religious icons.’

Is the shape and form of the pot itself integral to your work?

I am interested in the vessel or container as a metaphor for how we seek to contain communities within the built landscape of British society.

I am also attracted to the way pottery as a medium seduces people before they realise what the images depict, as Robert Clark wrote about my work, ‘Emilie Taylor craftily infiltrates pottery’s decorative charm with hints of political dissent’ (The Guardian, 2014). The pots enable me to infiltrate drawing rooms up and down the country!

Who or what is the biggest influence on your work?

Me! And the life I have lived until now.

Beyond myself, the biggest influence on my work is the post-industrial landscape, and the impact this has on communities and people’s lives today.

Which artists inspire you?

Emilie Taylor, The Cynthia Corbett GalleryI am influenced by early English slipware as part of our heritage that has been often overlooked. It has been part of people’s every day lives for hundreds of years, depicting personal events within the community alongside political events of the time.

I am also inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement, led by William Morris in Britain in the 1880s, and his belief in the important role of craft in society. This influence is referenced in the pattern I use across the top of my pots.

Potters dealing with contemporary political issues today interest and inspire me. Phil Eglin, Paul Scott and Steve Dixon are all people whose work I really admire.

Highlight of your career so far?

Personally, a pot depicting my Grandma’s council estate being displayed on the Great Stairs of the Duke of Devonshire’s home Chatsworth House! She wouldn’t have believed it.

Professionally, showing this work led to a year-long residency for me between the Chatsworth Estate and the aforementioned council estate (Manor, in Sheffield), and I produced a body of work I was very proud of. This was installed in the Great Chamber at Chatsworth in 2014.

What’s coming up for you in 2016?

Emilie Taylor, The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, Persephone (Detail) 1I have works to deliver to two museum collections, and I am enjoying some studio time developing new large scale pieces for a solo show in 2017 that will tour the UK.

I am currently undertaking a Craft Fellowship at World of Bede Museum, Jarrow supported by Arts Heritage and I have work on show at Bury Art Museum, Bury.

And, of course, my work will be presented by The Cynthia Corbett Gallery at The Affordable Art Fair this Spring!

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Own the art you love

Own ArtYou’ve been to the fair, found the artwork for you, and it’s time to take the plunge and make it yours. For many people, buying art can be one of their biggest financial investments, so wouldn’t it be lovely to have the option to split the payments up into smaller manageable instalments? Well, thanks to the wonderful people at Own Art, many of our exhibiting galleries are now offering this as an option.

We’ve got the lowdown from the folk at Own Art about the ins and outs of the scheme, and they’ve even shared their top tips for making the most of your budget when kick-starting a collection …

What is Own Art?

Antlers Gallery, Charles Emerson, Ossian's Cave and Ben NevisOwn Art is an Arts Council funded scheme that makes buying art easy and affordable, letting you spread the cost of your purchase with an interest free loan.

Own Art loans have no fees whatsoever and are repayable in 10 equal monthly instalments, allowing you to buy, and live with, the art you love. With around 250 member galleries in the UK there is a huge range of contemporary art available through the scheme.

 

How does it work?

BEARSPACE, Lucinda Metcalfe, Bright ShadowsOwn Art can be used to spread the cost of contemporary art from the value of £100 – £2,500. In addition to this, a selection of our galleries offer Own Art Twenty which enables the purchase of higher priced artwork from £2,500 (right up to £25,000) and can be spread equally over 20 months instead of 10.

All loans are processed there and then – they can be set up straight away at the fair – you simply need to express an interest in applying for an Own Art loan to the gallerist you’re buying the work from. As long as you are over 18, in more than 16 hours of employment weekly and are a permanent UK resident you are eligible to apply – it’s as easy as that.

Your gallerist will take you through the loan application process, which normally takes about 10 minutes. Once you’ve given all the information they need, you’ll get an instant decision. If successful you can take your purchase home with you on the day!

How would I purchase through the Own Art scheme at the Affordable Art Fair?

Several of our member galleries are exhibiting at the Affordable Art Fair, and artworks bought from these exhibitors can be considered for the Own Art scheme. Our members exhibiting at the spring edition of the fair include:

The Contemporary London, Jess Littlewood, Phenomenon VAntlers Gallery, stand H3
BEARSPACE, stand L2
Byard Art, stand G8
Frames Gallery, stand L3
The Contemporary London, stand H9
Francis Iles, stand B4
Iona House Gallery, stand B2
John Noott Galleries, stand I6
Lilford Gallery, stand K10
Marine House at Beer, stand L8
One Church Street Gallery, stand G1
TAG Fine Arts, stand G6
Tallantyre Gallery, stand A1

We will be running a tour of the fair on Friday 11th March at 3pm, so make sure you join to find out more about our interest free loans and the work our participating galleries are exhibiting.

What would your top tips be for someone looking to start an art collection on a budget?

Iona House Gallery, Annika Talsi, Frozen IslandWe always advise people to start collecting by buying what you love rather than considering it as an investment. Art is the ultimate personal statement. If you buy art that speaks to you, your collection will be a visual expression of what you find meaningful.

Visualise the artwork in your home before you make your purchase, if you want to get the most from your budget don’t buy something that’s just going to sit in storage! Our final tip is to expose yourself to a wide variety of galleries, artists and mediums to discover the perfect piece for your home – an art fair is an ideal way to do this.

When it comes to buying for your collection, it’s easier than ever with the help of Own Art. There’s no limit to the number of times you can use the scheme, so you could think about buying one or more pieces each year. Once you’ve taken out your first Own Art loan, it won’t be long before you can start thinking about your next purchase and building up your collection.

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Meet the artists: Abigail McDougall

Bristol-based artist Abigail McDougall, whose work is represented by Bristol Contemporary Art, is fast becoming an Affordable Art Fair favourite. Working in watercolour or oil paints on paper she takes inspiration from both the natural world and oriental drawings to create her exquisitely observed and enchantingly lit paintings.

Equally at home in the studio as she is working in the open air, we’ve caught up with Abigail to hear about her latest body of work inspired by her travels to exotic landscapes and gardens, and to get a behind the scenes glimpse into the day-to-day practice of a professional artist …

Abigail McDougall, Bristol Contemporary Art

“Painting outdoors is an important part of my practice – I try to do this as much as possible. It really helps me to develop a spontaneity in my work, which is hard to get when solely working in a studio. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to be taking research trips to exotic locations – my latest works are inspired by trips to Morocco and Vienna – but I’m equally excited to work, for instance, at Kew Gardens or other botanical gardens in the UK.

Tweet: “Painting outdoors is an important part of my practice – I try to do this as much as possible” #abigailmcdougall @aaflondon http://ctt.ec/O8CZ2+

Abigail McDougall, Bristol Contemporary Art

“When I’m painting outdoors locally I usually travel to my destination by bike. This is important for me, not only out of a concern for the natural environment, but also to make sure I’ve seen and absorbed as much as I can along the journey. I painted a series last year based on the reflections in the River Frome – it was winter, so some mornings were really crisp and bright, others were quite misty and moody – travelling to and from my location by bike really helped me experience this.

Abigail McDougall, Bristol Contemporary Art“I’ve had to hone my outdoor painting technique over the years, as well as the equipment I use. I used to paint on a picnic blanket on the ground … but after one piece got trampled by a very muddy dog(!) I had to invest in a special light-weight easel that I use flat, to suit my water-based technique.

“Later this year I’ll be travelling to Mexico and the borders of Guatemala and Belize to study and discover the luscious rainforest vegetation and lagoons, and the startlingly clear blue waters of the Caribbean. In much of my work I focus on reflections – often only painting the essence of a landscape as reflected in a body of water, to show the viewer a kind of alternate reality. I’m really excited about the opportunities these trips will give me to develop my work!

Abigail McDougall, Bristol Contemporary Art

“When I’m not out and about, I’m working in my studio; it’s a big old building in the centre of Bristol called Jamaica Street Artists Studios with about 40 artists working there. It has huge windows, plenty of light and an amazing view of the city (which can be quite distracting!).

“I do four to six hours a day of intense painting whilst listening to audio books and podcasts, or sometimes music, to help me concentrate. I take regular tea breaks between each hour of painting to refocus and share ideas with other artists in my studio.

Abigail McDougall, Bristol Contemporary Art“When the graft of painting is done, there is always more to be finished – from the priming of new boards to varnishing completed pieces. There is also experimentation to fit in too, with different media and techniques. This is how I was able to come up with my new technique of layering gesso and watercolour primer on board to create a really smooth finish.

“Sometimes when I’m feeling creative I experiment in my studio with more abstract pieces, pouring and splattering different kinds of paint. These help me to loosen up for creating my main pieces, but they’ve also become artworks in their own right.”

See Abigail’s work at the fair with Bristol Contemporary Art on Stand B3

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Meet the galleries: Gala Fine Art

Kate Bignold, Gala Fine ArtWe’re thrilled that online gallery Gala Fine Art will be making their Affordable Art Fair debut this spring, directed by the delightful Kate Bignold. Kate’s lifelong interest in art was sparked as a student of languages and art history, and the opportunity to live in Paris, Geneva and Berlin further fuelled her passion. She began her career immersed in the London art world, working at Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Royal College of Art, then switched professions to work as a specialist translator in the fields of art and culture for 15 years before founding Gala Fine Art last year.

We’ve caught up with Kate to learn more about her fascinating experiences in the art industry, to hear about the ethos behind Gala Fine Art, and to get the lowdown on who we should look out for at the Affordable Art Fair this spring …

1. So, tell us a bit about Gala Fine Art …

Gala Fine Art, Annette Pugh, Dreaming of Exotic Places 3Gala Fine Art is an online gallery that I launched in March 2015, named after Gala Dali – surrealist master Salvador Dali’s wife, agent and muse. I’m based in Bristol and represent an exciting group of emerging, mid-career and established British and Irish artists (currently 10 painters and 1 photographer) who have each developed their own very distinctive creative style.

Typically the artists I work with combine traditional painting or photography techniques with modern and/or unconventional processes. Whether bold and colourful or subtle and muted, much of the work boasts a cinematic quality and a strong photographic element, in the form of screen printing, photographic transfer or collage, for instance.

2. What are your favourite things about running a gallery and showing at art fairs?

Gala Fine Art, Angela Maloney, Urban Delights IIAfter graduating in modern languages then working in the art world for six years, I began work as a translator. Just like translating, running an online gallery involves a lot of time at the computer! But unlike translating, it is also a people-centred job, and that’s one of the key things I love about it.

First liaising with the artists – visiting their studios and choosing work for art fairs (it’s like going shopping for art and I usually want to keep everything for myself!), discussing their work and plans, and encouraging and supporting those who are starting out.

And second, meeting art lovers at fairs – it gives me a thrill to see how happy they are when they buy a piece they adore. My very first sale at a fair was to a couple in Manchester who had never bought a work of art before. They fell in love with one of Dan Parry-Jones’ paintings of a beach scene featuring two children playing, saying it reminded them of holidays with their two grown-up sons when they were small.

3. How do you select the artists you represent?

Gala Fine Art, Kate Milsom, Victor Amadeus was suspicious of anything innovativeI started out with a handful of artists I knew and have since taken on seven new ones, from Bristol (Jamaica Street Studios and Spike Island are a hive of talent) and further afield – mid-Wales, the West Midlands and the north-west of England mainly.

I talent spot at open studio events and open submission exhibitions, like the annual show at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol, the UK’s only regional Royal Academy. That’s where I fell in love with Annette Pugh’s work, who in turn led me to her Birmingham artists studio colleague Angela Maloney, who led me to New Art West Midlands, an Arts Council-funded platform for artists in that area, whose last exhibition led me to John Devane – all of whom you’ll see at the March Affordable Art Fair!

4. Do you collect art yourself? Tell us a bit about your favourite piece.

Gala Fine Art, Clare Bonnet, Wallowing in the WaitMy favourite part of my collection has to be an edition of five very unusual silkscreen prints (think Surrealism meets folk art) published in Santiago de Chile in 1949. I found them in the back of a cupboard in my mother’s house after she died. I think she had inherited them from her great aunt who had travelled the world with her army officer husband. Each print is by an eminent Chilean artist, three of whom belonged to the Grupo Montparnasse, which was formed in the 1920s when several of the members returned to Chile after a period living and working in Paris alongside Europe’s avant-garde greats, including Picasso and Cézanne.

5. What can we expect to see from Gala Fine Art at the Battersea fair this spring? Which artists should we look out for?

Gala Fine Art, John Devane, VenturaIt’ll be a fair of firsts for Gala Fine Art! I’m showcasing work by six gallery artists who are all fairly, if not totally, new to art fairs. It’ll be the first time any of them have shown work at an Affordable Art Fair, and the first time most of them have ever exhibited in London. So the Gala Fine Art stand will be a bit of an exclusive for Londoners.

I love Annette Pugh’s melancholic paintings exploring the traditional British holiday park as a fantasy world for the working classes. I’m also excited to be unveiling the latest body of work by John Devane, who won second prize in the 2013 BP Portrait Award: Edward Hopper-inspired paintings of tranquil swimming pools that brilliantly evoke a moment in time in the summer heat. Bristol-based newcomer Clare Bonnet is also definitely one to watch for her bold, candid, semi-abstract portraits of women in undefined interiors. Obviously I’m biased, but I love all six artists we’re showing at the fair – make sure you head to stand K8 and check them out!

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