I went to the Affordable Art Fair in Hampstead in the spring, after a hiatus of several years. As a result of purchasing things I got a free private view invite, so it being free along I went.
If you are going to choose between the two, based on this year’s outings the Hampstead fair is much better. There was a great preponderance of “graphic art”, you know sardonic colourful emoji type dogs, slogans and so on, generally printed, photos and not very good conceptual art. Very commercial but not particularly interesting. They are strange beasts the Affordable Art fairs. You can be guaranteed to see a dog better and more expensively dressed than you are.
There were a few things that peaked my interest however. You will have to forgive some of the poor photography, the show was quite crowded and often angles difficulty.
The above is by Daniel Ablitt, presented by the Hayloft gallery. I like the sparsness of it, the long spindly trees and the more colourful than it first appears sparkling snow. It is of course all made by the lonely victorian type figure. There is a Peter Doig like quality (Doig is a favourite of mine) so it appealed.
I am a sucker for ceramics and in this show (as you will see) many of the things I thought the best were ceramics and glass. The best of the bunch was Hilary Laforce (above), very well displayed in a glass vitrine, drawing you into the gallery. I like her crinkly edges and deep lusturous colours, so much in fact that I purchased one of the magnificent blue tea bowls on the bottom. I am very glad I did.
Glass as I have said another prize in the show and amongst the top contenders are these exquisite pieces by Akiko Noda. The ones above left are called moon and sun, and have been very craftily displayed, lit from above on a black pedestal so they glow with an internal luster. They are very desirable little hemispheres and above my price range. Showing versatility is the one the right which if memory served is called water lily. This is where shows like this really show their worth, introducing you to people you would never have otherwise seen.
Time for some painting and not everything is shouty and garish, there is subtlety which holds it own, simplicity too. The one above left, a simple looking bowl and bloom by Jo Barrett. In simple pinks against a dark background it is a calming delicate piece that I really like.
More iconic and romantic are the works by Kirstin Vestgard with her pastel colours and soft focus that gently draws you in. I also like in this piece how the whole composition forms and interesting overall shape that swirls round the central face. Very nice.
Another common and long lasting trend is the miasmic landscape. Usually there is a horizon line, often there is a sea and there is swirling colours, Turneresque sunsest and semi abstraction. This is a style that appeals to me especially when it is done well and in a slightly different way as by Thomas Lippick in the above. Grey and gold is always a good combination they have been expertly used (it is egg tempera by the way) with interesting colour and shade contrasts as well as textures. Like these, very good.
Gallery of the show went to the Art in Beer stand. Beer is a town on the south coast and now I want to visit. It was a large well set out and and attractive stand. It was creating allot of attention not least with a very attractive display of Peter Layton glass (above right and the very top right of the blog). I am a fan of his glass and often go to his studio in Bermondsey (where you can watch glass being blown). I very nearly purchased some, aided by the fug of free booze.
Fran Staniland was another glass artist (above, middle) whose beautiful glass sculptures were sadly above my price range. I actually prefer the more opaque ones (such as the white and blue of the trio you can see).
Not just glass but also paintings my favourite of which was Adrian Sykes' work (above left). there is a strong use of light and shade to focus on the middle of the piece, around that central tree, joined with the rest of the painting by the meandering course of the sledge, which echos the shore line. Nice strong colours too. Similar to the theme I identified earlier. Again a slightly Doigish feel to it.
Final two pieces of glass. The photo of Eryka Isaak's glass sculpture (above left) is not very good and makes the work look to much like an enormous toe-nail. Actually it is much more lustrous and interesting than that with metal imbued in the glass to give a sort of of gnarley feel to the whole thing.
Above right is one of the two shelves of the art of Will Shakespeare who produces very nice pieces. Can you see in the middle a small blue and dark vase. Again I very nearly went off with this. I liked allot of his work, he has good designs and a good touch. I shall keep my eye on him.
Apart from the lovely bowl I bought my two favourtie pieces in the show are above. The one above left is an encaustic (wax basically) and collage painting of two pots by Jill Ogilvy. They have a visceral texture to it , nice swirls and lumps making these pots seem somehow very real.
In a completely different tone the piece above right are fish tins, in which are rendered these flourescent fishes. These imaginative pieces are the work of Ortaire De Coupigny. Interesting, attractive, well done and also affordable. I seriously thought about wandering off with a couple, but restrained myself.
Finally a bit of self promotion. I have a group show on 11th November at the Brookmill Pub in Deptford from 17:00. It is called Liminal Boundaries. Come along.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.