The beginner’s guide to creative curating at home

So, you’ve been to the fair, fallen in love with an artwork or two, and taken them home to show off to the world. But, what’s the best way to display your beautiful new art collection to maximise its impact in your home?

Nicky Wheeler, Fair DirectorFair director Nicky Wheeler has shared her top tips on curating your art collection at home, to wow your guests with your creative know-how …


Confidence is key
‘Confidence and creativity are key to hanging your artwork in imaginative places. You need to make the most of the space available. If your ceilings are high, consider arranging artworks above a doorway. Hallways are another great place to display artwork and it’s an effective way to liven up the space. Placing several pieces of art in a continuous line around, or into, a corner can be dynamic and different, too.’

Affordable Art Fair, London.

One is the magic number
‘A single piece of beautifully framed art in the middle of a blank wall can have enormous impact, especially if that work is particularly punchy or large. It creates a real focal point for a room. You need to think about the way the artwork interacts with the space; symmetry of furniture and furnishings around the piece can really help to draw the eye to it.’

Just out the salon
‘I love the impact a salon hang creates, if you’ve got a collection of smaller or eclectic pieces. When creating such an arrangement, it’s best to start at the top of the wall. Keep the tops of the frames in a straight line and work down from there, leaving a similar amount of space around each piece. Beyond that, let your imagination take over! I love incorporating objects on shelves, or small mirrors, for example, to add interest and depth to the hang.’

Affordable Art Fair, London.Through the keyhole
‘If you’re getting something framed, remember not to have the picture touch the glass as certain materials will start to deteriorate. That’s why mount boards are used. Personally, I’m a fan of small artworks in big chunky frames. It pulls the focus towards the art and it feels like looking through a keyhole or a tiny window.’

Embrace the unconventional
‘Don’t discount spaces in your home where you might not obviously think to place art, but make sure you consider the practicalities. Anything printed on metal will suffer above a radiator. In the bathroom you’ll need to avoid anything on paper, but oils or acrylics on canvas should be fine … if you’re not sure, chat to your gallerist about the materials your artwork is made from.’

For more arty inspiration check out our Instagram and Pinterest pages!

Ones to watch: Matteo Allodi

This autumn we’re delighted once again to present our annual Recent Graduates’ Exhibition, featuring 21 of the brightest new names emerging from the UK’s art schools. Curated by Jessica Hall and Emma Mansell, the showcase provides a snapshot of some of the most exciting new contemporary work being produced today.

Amongst the artists selected for 2015 is Loughborough University graduate Matteo Allodi, who uses concrete to create his striking, and beautifully balanced, sculptures. We’ve caught up with him to hear more about his practice and inspiration ahead of the fair.

RGs, Matteo Allodi, (i)

How would you sum up your work?

My work attempts to imitate a ruin. In it, I explore the materials and construction of historic architecture and artwork, to examine the decay of post-modernist architecture.

How do you create on of your artworks?

I create concrete shapes I use a mould-forming process, and fill the positives with the concrete mix. Leaving the concrete to cure for a few days in order to strengthen, I am then able to remove it from the mould without damaging the shape of the object. The curve of the shapes I create allows me to play with weight and balance in the constructions of the sculpture.

How do you select your subject matter?

The subject of ruination has been explored by artists historically, and I began to experiment with the theme after being inspired by a survey exhibition at Tate Britain in 2013, which explored the concept of ruins. Exploring into this theme and researching post-modernist architecture and sculpture has been the biggest influence in making my work. Comparing the brutalist constructions of architect Erno Goldfinger, alongside the sculptural forms of Richard Serra has really informed by practice.

Best moment of your art career so far?

I was awarded the Edward Sharpe Prize by Loughborough University and had one of my sculptures installed on campus. Seeing my work outdoors, in a public space, has been so rewarding.

Check out our full list of this year’s Recent Graduates here.

One to watch: Kirsty Andrew

This autumn we’re delighted once again to present our annual Recent Graduates’ Exhibition, featuring 21 of the brightest new names emerging from the UK’s art schools. Curated by Jessica Hall and Emma Mansell, the showcase provides a snapshot of some of the most exciting new contemporary work being produced today.

Central Saint Martins graduate Kirsty Andrew is amongst this years selection, showcasing her fabric and resin sculptural works. Scroll down to hear more about the influences and inspiration behind Kirsty’s work.

Recent Graduates' Exhibition, Kirsty Andrew, Behind Closed Doors series

How would you sum up your work?

My work aims to explore the conflict between our public and private lives.

How do you create one of your artworks?

I make and research in tandem, and continuously experiment with materials, processes and ways of documenting my work. This experimentation is crucial to the development of my work. The aesthetics of my work are, of course, important, but how the audience relates to the work and the emotional response it triggers is also key so I’m constantly thinking about ways I can provoke a response.

Recent Graduates' Exhibition, Kirsty Andrew, Untitled' (tablecloth I)What is the biggest influence behind your work?

Family life and personal experiences are a consistent influence on my practice. I believe it’s possible to express or evoke intimate emotions without being explicitly personal.

Best moment of your art career so far?

Completing my BA in Fine Art, and having my work shown outside the university.

What are you most excited about whilst showing at the Affordable Art Fair?

I’m really looking forward to my work being seen and appreciated by a broader, art-loving audience!

Check out our full list of this year’s Recent Graduates here.

Ones to watch: Summer Oxley

This autumn we’re delighted once again to present our annual Recent Graduates’ Exhibition, featuring 21 of the brightest new names emerging from the UK’s art schools. Curated by Jessica Hall and Emma Mansell, the showcase provides a snapshot of some of the most exciting new contemporary work being produced today.

Amongst this years’ graduates is Summer Oxley, who has recently completed a BA Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Arts. Summer creates quirky, ornamental sculptures that challenge conceptions of good and bad taste. We’ve been chatting to her to find out why she’s excited to be showing at the fair this October.

Recent Graduates' Exhibition, Summer Oxley, Breakfast PigHow would you sum up your work?

Tacky objects given a fun new kitsch and nostalgic lease of life.

How do you create one of your artworks?

I work with collected objects and I’m always keeping an eye out for pieces I think I could use. For the ‘ornaments’ series I’ll be showing at the fair I work with porcelain, sometimes stripping the original glazes – either chemically or by sanding – and then prime the object white. I then hand paint onto them and finishing by re-glazing.

Recent Graduates' Exhibition, Summer Oxley, Donut CatHow do you select your subject matter?

Often it’s just the first thing that pops into my head … usually relatable, comforting, or indulgent food!

What is the biggest inspiration behind your work?

Mid-century vinyl toys, mass produced ornaments, et cetera, et cetera. Basically the tat we all have in our homes, but for whatever reason can’t seem to get rid of.

Recent Graduates' Exhibition, Summer Oxley, Donut LeopardBest moment of your art career so far?

My degree show, by far. It was the first time I’ve really shown my work to such a large public audience, and it was so nice to hear what everyone had to say about each piece.

What are you most looking forward to whilst showing at the Affordable Art Fair?

Having another platform to show my work and see how people react to it!


Check out our full list of this year’s Recent Graduates here.

Collect Yourself

Happy art buyers at the Affordable Art Fair NYC Spring 2014 editionWe know that buying art is a unique opportunity for expressing yourself – your tastes, your personality, your interests – and we’re delighted that since the very first Affordable Art Fair in 1999, our visitors have added over 220,000 artworks to their personal collections. But, contemplating this amazing fact got us to wondering about the thousands of individual stories and decisions behind those purchases – why do people collect art?

According to a survey by AXA Art last year, the top reasons why people collect art fall into three main categories: a love of beautiful things, an enjoyment of learning about art, and the opportunity to channel their passions through their collections. We decided to test this thesis by asking some of our Affordable Art Fair exhibitors who have shown with us during 2015 to share their stories and expert knowledge about why people fall in love with, and collect, art.

FOUR-WALLS, Becky Blair, Sunset SwimLara Bowen, director of Brighton-based FOUR-WALLS Contemporary, sees collecting art as a way for her clients to inject their personality into their homes. ‘William Morris said, “Whatever you have in your rooms, think first of the walls, for they are that which make your house a home”. What you surround yourself with when you come home reflects who you are, and where you’ve come from.’ She continues, ‘Artworks are memories made, they’re inspiration for your next day, right there on your walls. It’s an extremely personal thing.’

Edgar Modern, Henrietta Dubrey, Turn It OnGallery Manager of Bath-based gallery Edgar Modern, Ariel Klein, agrees. She says, ‘our clients buy paintings and sculpture because they love them. They love how it makes them feel, they love that it makes them smile whenever they see it, and they love filling their homes with images that evoke emotions and mean something to them.’ She remembers a particular collector who instantly fell for a beautiful, powerful canvas by painter Henrietta Dubrey, of a brazenly nude female figure, unapologetically staring down at the viewer. The collector was a self-made business owner, and Ariel recalls her response to the work, ‘she told us that she always felt a disconnection between her shrewd business acumen and her own femininity, and that she felt she could see both facets of her personality reflected in the Dubrey painting.’

Eyestorm, Jacky Tsai, Petrol RainbowCreative Director of Eyestorm, Angie Davey, shared a similar story of a client developing a self-declared obsession with collecting Jacky Tsai’s surreal, often dreamlike, prints. Following a conversation with the client, Angie learned that he was a psychiatrist – for him, Jacky’s prints were a map onto the artist’s mind, their surreal landscapes and abstract patterns reflecting his own deep-rooted interest in the processes of being.

There are many reasons why people collect art, but ultimately, for our exhibitors and collectors it seems its value first and foremost lies in its power to enrich, enhance and express a sense of self. As Stuart Nields, Director of Edgar Modern, summarises, ‘people collect art to enrich their lives, art has the power to change the dynamics of your home, it can evoke emotion, and prompt discussion. People build strong connections with art and the reasons why they choose certain pieces are as complex as they are themselves.’

Feeling inspired to express yourself through your own art collection? Check out our image preview galleries for a sneak peek at some of the wonderful pieces you’ll find at the Affordable Art Fair Battersea this October.

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

Here 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 practising what we preach!

Sarah Barrett, Programmes and Partnerships Manager Our new ‘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, starting with our lovely Programmes and Partnerships Manager, Sarah, who has a penchant for expressive and unusual landscapes.

Lights, Breaux Bridge I by Nick Bodimeade‘Lights, Breaux Bridge I’ by Nick Bodimeade

I saw this piece with St. Anne’s Galleries at an Affordable Art Fair this year and was immediately drawn to Nick’s confident use of washes of colour, his sparing brushstrokes and the unusual colour palette he plays with. I think this piece looks like it was painted very quickly, and I’m amazed the artist’s ability to render such an evocative scene with just a few marks.

This piece is one of a series of paintings that Nick created on a trip to the States, and I love the romantic idea of the artists’ road trip! I’m also now coveting his recent paintings from a series on British B-roads …

'Long Shadow' by Lucinda Metcalfe‘Long Shadow’ by Lucinda Metcalfe

I bought this piece from Bearspace who were one of the galleries included in the Project Space Collective at the Affordable Art Fair Battersea last March. I completely bought this piece on a whim because I knew I simply couldn’t not have it (thank goodness for the Own Art scheme!). I was immediately attracted to the intense, shimmering colour palette with fluorescent undertones. To me Lucinda’s paintings could be stills from travel brochures, selling us dreams of escapism, and I find them completely seductive. I’m a huge fan of Lucinda’s now, and I can’t wait to see what new work she produces in the future.

'Hampshire' by Margaret Knott‘Hampshire’ by Margaret Knott

This is the latest addition to my collection, and I’ve realised that I have a bit of a thing for landscapes! I’m drawn to expressive painting, interesting colour palettes and intriguing places. I bought this piece from Will’s Art Warehouse, who’ll be bringing Margaret’s paintings to the fair this October.

It’s funny how when considering the pieces together there seems to be a pattern, but it wasn’t conscious at all. I’d love to create a cluster display of small landscapes when I eventually collect more pieces. I think essentially what I have are three paintings that really inspire me to pick up a paintbrush myself!

If you’re feeling inspired to start or expand your own art collection, head over to our image preview galleries, or check out our Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook pages!

In the studio with … Donna Ruff, Alicia David Contemporary Art

Amongst the 1,100 artists whose work will be shown in Battersea this October, you’ll find some pieces created from unusual materials, in truly unique styles. One such artist is Donna Ruff, whose work will be shown by Alicia David Contemporary Art. Donna creates her artworks from everyday materials and discarded objects, most often exploring her fascination with paper …

Donna Ruff, Frieze 17, Alicia David Contemporary ArtWhere does your interest in paper as an art material come from?
My grandparents owned a scrap paper company in Chicago – my dad and many of my relatives worked there. From the time I was maybe four or five I used to go to the warehouse and see all of the paper – huge bales of it. My grandmother used to save the encyclopedias that were sent for shredding. I always had paper to draw on, and I think that my interest in paper that has been discarded or has had another purpose stems from that.

I also love paper for its malleability. So much can be done with it and to it – yet it seems fragile and many papers are quite beautiful. I often work with handmade papers and have made paper myself. And then there is the sense that paper is ephemeral, but actually it lasts for hundreds of years.

How do you produce one of your works?
I have an idea in mind for the form of my drawing from the outset, whether it’s a cut paper piece or a burned pattern. I work with geometric systems and patterns and whether I create the pattern on the computer or use a predetermined system as limitation, I work with an awareness of what to remove and what to leave as negative space. If the paper I’m using – the newspaper for instance, or a book page – has content on it, I allow the shapes to impact where my pattern will start and stop so that there is a conversation between the original page and the applied forms. Each drawing takes several days to do.

What inspires your work?
I am inspired by things that have evidence of being important to someone, that have been used and are frayed at the edges. Textiles, tile work, frescoes are all things I look at, photograph, keep as ideas.

Donna Ruff, 7.4.13, Alicia David Contemporary ArtWho is your favourite artist?
I love all art pretty much! I will say that Bernini’s sculpture, the Ecstasy of St. Teresa in Rome, is my favorite work of art of all time, and I also love annunciations, painted in the 14th and 15th centuries. It’s odd that such narrative work is the first thing I’d mention, but what engages me in these pieces is the sense of spirit and transcendence.

What’s the best thing about working as an artist?
I just love to make stuff. I always have, ever since I was very young. I have a beautiful studio with plenty of light. It’s my favourite place to be.

Check out our Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram pages to see more exciting artworks you’ll find at the fair.

Add a splash of art … with April Russell

Here at the Affordable Art Fair we’re firm believers that art makes a house a home. It’s a way of injecting personality into your space, and making your surroundings truly unique. However, we know that once you’ve been to the fair and fallen in love with a piece of art it can be tricky to decide where and how to display it at home.

April Russell

We’ve been chatting to April Russell, whose interior design studios in London and New York focus on her clients’ art collections, and how they relate to the layout, space and architecture of their homes. April has shared some expert advice with us on how to maximise an artwork’s impact in your home, to make sure you get as much enjoyment from it as possible.

Getting started …

Working as an interior designer, adding art to a home is one of my favourite stages in a long process, and it’s usually the point at which the space really comes into its own. I compare adding art to a home to putting on a theatre production. You have the stage set, yet it only really comes alive when the characters step out from the wings and begin their performance; adding art to a room gives me much the same feeling. But, much like when you’re staging a play, particular characters require certain backdrops, and it’s important that your artworks are set against the correct scene to make sure they look their best when they take centre stage.

The most important thing to consider when thinking about where and how to display art in your home is how you use your space. Think about how you use each room, what you require from the space, and how you want to feel when you’re in there – once you’ve ascertained this, you’re ready to think about where to hang your art.

Bright and bold figurative art

Art speaks to us principally through its subject matter and colour. Bright colours tend to make us feel happy and alive, whilst darker and more sombre colours can set a more reflective tone.

I think vibrant, representational works with warm, rich colour palettes and homely subjects are ideal to brighten up a reception room or hall, providing you, and guests, with a warm friendly welcome when entering your home. These pieces could also work really well hung in a dining area or above a kitchen table. Kitchen and dining spaces need to be light, welcoming and liveable – bright, figurative artworks certainly help with that.

Envie d'Art, Joseph, USA Map.






Serene landscapes

I would always consider quieter colours and subjects for bedrooms to create more of a calm, relaxing sanctuary feel.

I’d suggest carefully considering the ‘power colour’ – the most dominant shade – in your artwork. When working on interior design projects, we often design our colour palette for particular rooms around the art which will be hung in them. To make softer, more serene artworks really stand out, you should consider your choice of textiles and wall finishes, making sure these enhance rather than overpower the artwork. I’d suggest picking out the power colour, and selecting accessories which complement or contrast with it, to really make the artwork sing.

Eleven and a Half, Robert Jones, Gorse

Villa del Arte Galleries, Victoria Kovalenchikova, The Earth XCI


Quirky sculptures

I’m particularly fond of staging sculptures and ceramics in the home. There can be a tendency to dismiss sculptural work because of uncertainty about how to display it, but I think well-chosen three-dimensional works really add a sense of finesse and importance to a space.

Use a well-lit niche or plinth (well out of reach of little fingers!) to display these pieces, and really emphasise their presence in a room. Displayed correctly, sculptural work is sure to invigorate some great conversation!

DECORAZONgallery, Anne-Valerie Dupond, Roxy Animal Trophy









Powerful photography

I love having art in a dressing room and I think these are spaces where the more colour, the better! I particularly love the variation and intensity of colour you can get in photographic work.

Dressing rooms are also a place where you think about and express your own style, which makes them a perfect space to push the boundaries with your artwork. Again, contemporary photography is perfect for this, but a bold, challenging abstract piece, for instance, could also work really well.

Lopez Grey Gallery, Ramona Zordini, Changing Times

Arusha Gallery, Romina Ressia, Birthday Cake









Ultimately, though, the most important piece of advice I’d give is to enjoy adding a splash of art to your home – it’s a wonderful opportunity to really get creative and express yourself through your surroundings!

For more information on April Russell please visit, or email

What’s on: August Arts

Summer is in full swing and there’s a plethora of free arty treats around London, and beyond, for you to fill those sunny (and not so sunny!) days. We’ve put together a shortlist of our top picks to get you started.

Sansovino Frames. National Gallery.

Frames in Focus: Sansovino Frames
National Gallery
Until 13 September
It’s a great summer of shows at the National Gallery. Alongside their highly-anticipated ‘Soundscapes’ exhibition – where musicians and sound artists have created new compositions in response to artworks from the gallery’s permanent collection – is the intriguing ‘Frames in Focus’, which also encourages visitors to think about artworks in a new, and unexpected, way. Focusing on the often overlooked picture frame, rather than the artwork within it, the exhibition considers how the creation of picture frames is an art form in itself, with its own traditions, histories and visual language.


The London Open 2015. Whitechapel Gallery.

The London Open 2015
Whitechapel Gallery
Until 6 September
Featuring 48 of the most exciting artists working in London today, Whitechapel’s triennial open-submission show is a great way of spotting the latest trends in painting, sculpture, photography and film. We promise you’ll find some gems!


Pangaea II. Saatchi Gallery.

Pangaea II: New Art from Africa and Latin America
Saatchi Gallery
Until 6 September
The second instalment of Saatchi’s Pangaea exhibitions, Pangaea II showcases contemporary talents from Africa and Latin America. Packed with largescale, thought-provoking pieces, including Jean-Francois Bocle’s colossal sculpture made from 97,000 blue plastic bags, it’s certainly a summer show that packs a punch.


Introducing. Curious Duke Gallery.

Curious Duke Gallery
Until 29 August
Affordable Art Fair favourite, Curious Duke Gallery, is known for championing work that is urban, surreal, groundbreaking or niche, and their summer show makes no exception. ‘Introducing’ showcases the work of nine up-and-coming talents including Blandine Bardeau, Olivia Yu, and Louise McNaught in a show that promises to be bright, bold, and jam-packed with innovative new work.


Ilona Szalay. Arusha Gallery.








Ilona Szalay: Witness
Arusha Gallery
Until 31 August
For those of you venturing up to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival, make sure you put aside some time to see this solo show of Ilona Szalay’s powerful, figurative paintings. Having made her Affordable Art Fair debut with Arusha Gallery earlier in 2015, we can’t get enough of Ilona’s distinctive, visceral style!


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Exhibition review: Duane Hanson at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery

We know there’s still a couple of months to go until the Affordable Art Fair returns to Battersea, so we’ve been seeking out the best summer exhibitions in London to keep you entertained in the meantime!

We recently visited the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, which this summer is populated by American sculptor Duane Hanson’s (1925-1996) startlingly hyper-real figures, and thoroughly enjoyed the show.

Duane Hanson. Serpentine Sackler Gallery.

Duane Hanson. Serpentine Sackler Gallery.








Complete with human hair, realistic bruises and veins rendered on their resin surfaces in soft oils, on first glance you’d be forgiven for not realising they were sculptures at all! Instead, they are easily mistaken for fellow visitors, staff, or bored children who have been dragged to the gallery by their parents.

Duane Hanson. Serpentine Sackler Gallery.

Created between 1960 and the artist’s death in 1996, these life-size and unbelievably life-like figures – from Queenie the cleaner, to the decorator turning the white walls of the gallery a lurid pink – map out Duane Hanson’s gritty, salt-of-the-earth view of humanity. His sculptures thrust benign moments and behind-the-scenes characters into the limelight, often using humour to provoke a reaction from the viewer.

Duane Hanson. Serpentine Sackler Gallery.

It’s near impossible to avoid their vacant gazes, which challenge you to think more about the people you pass by every day. There’s no glamour in Duane Hanson’s figures, rather, he captures the essence of humanity in all its grubby glory. Entertaining and thought provoking, it’s certainly one of our favourites this summer season.

Catch it at the Serpentine until 13 September.

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