Saying that you ‘love art’ can sound like a sweeping pretension: as if you know everything there is to know about an expansive and seemingly unknowable genre. I don’t know art, but I do know what I like - as I’m sure many of you do, too. What can be harder, however, is knowing where to find it, particularly if you are on a more modest budget. That’s where the Affordable Art Fair comes in. With a founding ethos of making art accessible to all, the Affordable Art Fair can help you to find the perfect present for a loved one this Christmas (or something to add to your own, ahem, Christmas list).
If you missed the physical fair in Battersea (where I picked up a simple yet gorgeous figure drawing in red of a naked woman in repose, by London-based Chinese artist Hock Tee Tan, to sit above my Ines Cole dining room table) don’t despair, because the Affordable Art Fair has a vast amount of their art available online, for you to browse or purchase just in time for Christmas. From sketches to sculpture, photographs to prints, you can find a wealth of choice from £100, right through to a more investment-worthy £6,000. With so much to choose from, I’ve done an edit of my top 10 pieces, at a variety of price points, discussing why I love them and where they’d go best, which you can read here.
With a whopping 4,750 pieces of art available to browse, I’d recommend making yourself a cup of tea, putting your phone on airplane mode and settling down in a comfy chair, before getting stuck in for a good few hours on a drizzly Saturday - which, incidentally, are the exact conditions under which I write this piece.
You can filter through price, artist, or even gallery name should you discover a curator that you think is particularly your speed. Find an artist you love? Click on to their name to read a biography, or about the inspiration behind each piece. If you don’t come from an arty background - I never studied art history at school; my parents were bookish rather than gallery-inclined, when I was growing up - it can be hugely helpful and informative to read more about why and how an artist produced the work that they did. It gives context and shape to your love for a piece, or artist.
Whilst browsing through the website, I fell in love with the black and white photography of James Sparshatt. Shortlisted for the Sony World Photographic Awards and a finalist in the World Photography Gala Awards, the British photographer manages to encapsulate the rich vibrancy of his subjects and their surroundings, without actually using any colour (no mean feat.) Portraits from the Latin world, my favourites are the series of old women, smoking cigars. There is something brash and joyful; moving and empathetic about these close-ups, where the women are photographed at close range, blowing smoke into his camera. I chose Woman of Vinales and Puro… Alegria, to come and live with me, side by side. It was a hard decision - I also love Las Memorias.
Of course, it can be hard to commit to something which costs hundreds, or thousands, of pounds, without ever having seen it in the flesh. That’s where the Affordable Art Fair’s ‘free returns’ policy comes in useful, meaning you don’t have to worry about being tied to a piece of art if you’re not still completely in love with it once it arrives. Also, any questions about the piece, delivery or framing? Contact Customer Services and the ever-informative team will have the answers to all your concerns or queries.
I’m moving to a new house and where to hang them is the million dollar question. They’d look brilliant in the small study, hung on a backdrop of racing green zebra wallpaper, by Scalamandre. Or perhaps I’d feel the full effect better if they were in the hallway, confronting me with their joy as soon I turn the key. I’ll have to decide when I’ve finished decorating. Either way, they are pieces that I will treasure for life.
James Sparshatt's photographs pride of place in Pandora's home.
Images from top to bottom:
Hock Tee Tan nude purchased by Pandora at the Battersea Autumn Fair.
James Sparshatt, Las memorias, platinum print on paper, edition of 12, £2,150, Capital Culture.