I was enticed all the way to London last Sunday, in search of art and culture – and to deliver some furniture to a friend’s daughter. Not that we don’t have art and culture here of course, but the offer of a more or less free trip to the metropolis could not be overlooked and it afforded me the opportunity to see celestial daughter number one.
First stop was the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea Park, courtesy of Kendall’s Gallery in Cowes who had very kindly sent me an invite. For those of you who’ve never been this it is an enormous exhibition by art galleries and new graduates that lands in London every autumn selling art that is all around £3000 and under, and lots of it is only £300 or less. I went to the first one at the Design Centre in Islington back in 1999 and now it’s so big they have to have two, over consecutive weekends.
It was their last day (Sunday) and it was hot. We tried to see everything but you do get a bit ‘arted out’ after a while, so we stopped to do the clay workshop for a bit that was being run by one of the galleries – making clay structures around armourtage. Jan, a sculptor from Denmark, was helping out and we loved his pieces, especially the boxing rabbits.
Mark Fear at Kendall’s was looking a little exhausted, but still smiling. On one wall were two very similar and striking paintings of the sea done by Alexander Slatter at around £2,500. One was of Hawaii and the other of Compton Bay – quite a good advertisement for the Isle of Wight remarked Mark, and we had to agree. We also loved the painting of a hare and the sculpture of a cheetah by Juliet Collins – do I see a theme emerging here?
Another gallery had a superb large painting of a cheetah along with an elephant and other large beasts. There were some beautiful trees done by Nigel Wood at his gallery. Nigel spent some time explaining how he achieves the effect of his paintings. “I feel like Jackson Pollack sometimes,” he told us. His paintings were painstakingly executed and quite superb – both of us liked the one with the trees at dusk.
We spent a happy couple of hours just walking around the exhibition picking out our favourites like kids in a sweetshop. We were both relatively unimpressed with the gallery selling prints by the Young British Artists (who let’s face it are getting a bit old now) but they were nice and friendly. In fact that was a definite plus to the whole experience – art galleries now like the people who come into them it seems. That’s a bonus. I think we’ve probably got the recession to thank for this. Every cloud has a silver lining.
One artist had painted on to a shiny silver background – polished metal of some sort – and this gave a striking effect. Other landscape artists had tried more conventional materials, but with modern twists and there were loads of land and seascapes. A gallery in the far corner had lots of more traditional still life paintings of wine and fruit that really ‘glowed’ on their canvasses.
On the wall in the foyer of the show was the most enormous tiger I have ever seen made of synthetic furry material; a piece by a recent graduate of Camberwell College of Art where Mhairi is currently studying and it had apparently been one of the first pieces to sell. In fact all of the graduate work was selling like hot cakes, which was reassuring – the organisers go to all of the graduate shows and pick the artists they wish to feature. One artist had done something weird with water and it bubbled in a tilting box with a strange surface pattern, another had positioned different coloured soap dispensers on the wall. We especially liked the large piece with small brushstrokes on a white background that gave a strange 3D effect and the soft still life trio with skull – all of which sold.
Then we took the free bus to Sloane Square and I was introduced to the intricacies of the Oyster Card in the tube station. And the next day we went to see The Apocalypse at Tate Britain….I bet you had idea it was going to be so contained? More on this anon…