From Battersea to Hampstead AAF proves art has mass appeal
Last night, the Affordable Art Fair broke into new London territory with the opening of its first ever fair on Hampstead Heath. This new fair – the fourth in the UK, and set to run from 27th to the 30th October – brings together 90 galleries, all selling artworks for £40 to £4000. It represents the latest addition to a now global brand, with fairs in such diverse locations as Brussels and Milan, New York and L.A., Singapore and Hong Kong; by the end of this year in fact, the AAF are expected to reach their one millionth visitor, and to have sold an incredible £145 million worth of affordable art worldwide.
The fair is proof indeed that ‘you don’t need to be a squillionaire to collect and enjoy first-class art’. While the majority of the work on show may be by lesser-known professionals, there are also a significant number of more or less affordable works by serious and established artists. There are, for example, a number of works by pop artist Gerald Laing exhibited by Olivia Connnelly, including one of his much-hyped images of Amy Winehouse (in this case, depicting the singer putting the rubbish out while hoovering the floor) for c.£2000. In this respect, the star gallery is surely that of Dominic Guerrini, who, without affiliation to the artists in question, has gathered together a formidable collection of works by Banksy, Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, Bridget Riley, and Anish Kapoor.
It is, furthermore, not only the big names with interesting work for sale at the Hampstead AAF. Debra Franses Bean’s wonderfully kitsch resin handbags – with dollar bills, My Little Ponies, pocket watches, or rusted keys encased within them – is one example, presenting us with a parody of commercial designer desirables through hyper-real emulation. Another example is the work of recent graduate Laura Dray, with its hideous animal creations presented in diagrammatic drawings of scientistic non-alarm.
Launched in 1999, the AAF has grown to become one of the most popular UK fairs, seeing, over the years, as many as 470,000 British individuals purchasing over £82 million worth of artwork. The fairs are the brainchild of entrepreneur Will Ramsay, a man who works on the principle that ‘buying art can provide a lifetime of enjoyment and inspiration; no one should miss this opportunity.’ This is an ethos to be commended. Words/ Photo Thomas Keane © 2011 ArtLyst