Joanna Edmunds has been visiting the Affordable Art Fair since 2000, when her ex-boss, Marine House at Beer gallery owner Rosemary, invited her! Thanks to Rosemary, Joanna was hooked immediately and has been visiting the fair ever since. With a long career in the travel industry which often informs her art purchases, Joanna chooses pieces which spark a memory. She volunteers through the Warwick University Business School’s mentoring programme, and Resurgo SPEAR, a charity which supports young people facing disadvantage into work or education.
DISCOVER WHY JOANNA IS A FAIR FREQUENT FLYER
How did you start collecting art?
I think for me; it was very much linked to where I was living. It was the point in my life at which I’d gone beyond second hand furniture and all the hand-me-downs and started creating my own style – and art was very much part of it.
So, this piece here, for example, I bought what must be almost twenty years ago, when I went to my very first Affordable Art Fair – it’s a painting by Maria Tribe and I still love it. I’ve moved it around the house, but it tends to come back to this position because it seems to suit it so well.
What keeps you returning to the Affordable Art Fair each year?
The fairs are just brilliant, you get this whole collection of different artists and galleries. The galleries are so knowledgeable, and they share that with you, which I think really helps if you don’t know that much about art. It helps to understand what you’re looking at and decide whether it’s good value for money as you get to understand the effort and skill that’s gone into the work.
I mainly go at weekends, sometimes I go to the opening night and that has a different vibe from the weekend when there tends to be more families. But they’re all really fun, very informal and I really like that. Over the years I’ve been with so many different people, different friends, and it makes me laugh that whoever you go with – everybody likes something different, so what I pick out is completely different to other people, and even when you go with couples, they hardly ever agree!
But this Daniel Ablitt piece here, my husband and I actually both love it – and perhaps that’s what makes it so special. Because it’s so difficult to agree on something that you both feel strongly about. Often, it’s one or the other, and the other doesn’t hate it, but this we both absolutely loved it from the start. It really changed the room so much, the energy in the room, I can’t explain why a piece of artwork would make such a difference, but it does.
Your interior décor taste is elegant, but there's also a real feeling of fun and energy in your home, how do you choose the artworks and objects you collect?
I just buy what I like! I’ve picked up stuff from my travels though, or if the item sparks a connection and some pieces were wedding presents. My collection has been built up over a long period of time, edited and upgrading it as I go along. I studied interior design at Chelsea School of Art over twenty-five years ago, so I suppose I do have some underlying structure behind it.
It’s funny isn’t it, because I don’t really see myself as a collector, I just buy art because I love it, or quite often because it’s a time and a place and it celebrates a moment, so it’s a memory, it’s almost like a souvenir from something we’ve done. For me, it’s also very much about personalising my space, which sounds a bit fancy, but it’s about creating an environment where I feel really relaxed and happy. I love that you come home and it’s your stuff and it reflects your personality and you can invite people in and hopefully they’ll enjoy being here as well.
Do you personalise your home with entertaining in mind?
Definitely! Especially the garden – having access to an outside space, makes such a difference. The last few years we’ve made quite a few changes to the garden and it’s the first time we’ve had some professional help to advise us. It gives me so much pleasure and it’s ideal for entertaining friends and family.
Do you have any particular artists that you return to time and time again?
This one, I must have been to-and-fro with the gallery at least four times, you know, persuading myself that I was allowed another Plum Neasmith. So, I went away, and came back again, and I think I probably went away again, and then I got my husband to come with me, and he was the one who suggested we put it here over the mantlepiece and we literally bought it during the last five minutes of the fair!
It was great, just wrap it up and take it home with you!
Do you like to join in with the arty-activities at the Affordable Art Fair?
Yes! One of the best things about the fair is the fact that there’s so much to get involved with! You can go there with friends, you can go there on your own, it doesn’t really matter. With this little 'Hubba Hubba' print here for example, it’s just one of the print artists who happened to be outside the front of the fair. I just stopped to have a chat with him, and I hadn’t expected to take one away, but it’s fun, it’s quirky, and it’s found its way onto the bookshelf and it hasn’t moved!
I think the fact that there’s so much going on whether you want to buy art, or whether you’re just there for the experience, that makes it such a fun event.
What advice would you give someone buying art for the first time?
Buying your first piece of art is really nerve-wracking, and I think the thing to do is what everybody says – which is absolutely 100% true – you should buy something that you love. The thing is, working out whether you’re going to enjoy for long enough, and that’s the part that can be tricky to work out, are you going to want to live with it for a short while or for a long time. So be careful of things that are very fashionable, make sure it’s going to have that longevity.
But at the fair you can see something you like, you can leave it for a minute, go and look around, have a drink, come back and decide if you really love it. Certainly, that’s what I do, I always go away, do something else and come back.
But then sometimes it’s just fun to buy something that is just kind of a spontaneous decision, so I’ve got these pigeons out in the garden – they were a limited edition and they’re brilliant! We move them about, sometimes they’re close to the house in the winter, sometimes they’re further away. They’ve got a little Affordable Art Fair tag on them, they’re so cute.
If you like Joanna’s combination of dreamy abstract paintings and fun sculptures, why not browse our curated collection of art inspired by her good taste. Alternatively experience the Affordable Art Fair in person, see our list of upcoming fairs and mark your diary now!
Joanna Edmunds, who has visited the Affordable Art Fair since 2000, stands in front of one of her Plum Neasmith paintings.
Featured art from first to last:
Maria Tribe, unknown title. Purchased at Affordable Art Fair Battersea Autumn 2000 – the second ever Affordable Art Fair!
Joanna and her husband infront of their Daniel Ablitt painting, Will’s Art Warehouse. Purchased Spring, 2018.
Joanna's garden is very important to her, especially for entertaining family and friends.
Plum Neasmith, Bruised Light, Modern Artbuyer. Purchased at Affordable Art Fair Battersea Autumn, 2017.
Hubba Hubba, live artist demonstration at Affordable Art Fair Hampstead 2017.
Patrick Murphy, Belonging pigeon, limited edition. Purchased from an installation at Affordable Art Fair Battersea Spring, 2017.