Review – The Affordable Art Fair returned to North London’s Hampstead Heath with a major fair this week. Their signature Art Fairs at Battersea and now Hampstead are known for offering contemporary art by UK and international artists with lower price tags than fairs like Frieze and Frieze Masterpiece. This year a new focus on art under £500 was featured. Artwork in this price range was made easier to spot and there were specially mounted ‘Really, Really Affordable Art’ tours, helping visitors unearth works of art within their budget.
Impressionist and comedian, Jon Culshaw, opened the fair on Wednesday and over 18,000 visitors flocked to the Heath in search of paintings, photography and sculptures by established artists such as Damien Hirst, Banksy, Mark Quinn and Tracey Emin along with a number of emerging artists. BP Portrait Award shortlisted artists, James Stewart and Nathan Ford were on view and Degreeart, a Vyner street operation which specialises in exhibitions of emerging artists who have recently graduated from the London art colleges, had one of the more interesting stands.
The fair looked better this year with less animal paintings and glitter covered offerings. But despite the name this fair has a number of serious galleries like, Rebecca Hossack, Beaux Arts and The Boundary gallery. Pieces of work on offer catered across the board to both the serious collector as well as the first time novice buyer. The fair is still filled with mediocrity, but so is Frieze. The problem with Affordable is that much of the ‘art’ is somewhat on a lower end of the fine art spectrum, and often just decorative art. The Affordable brand makes no bones about its purpose and that is to sell art at a price the consumer can afford. It is art for the home and I don’t have a problem with this, as a concept. This winning formula has spread the fair to New York, Rome and Sao Paulo, making it an international money spinner and a UK success story. Photo © ArtLyst 2012