Affordable Art Fair, 26th-30th October, Hampstead Heath

The Affordable Art Fair transferred to Hampstead Heath with a fantastic collection of new and familiar artists. Our wigwam installations fitted in beautifully amongst the forest like conditions of the heath; we also added a carpet of autumn leaves to create a cosier and more natural setting. We were also joint hosts of the project stand, along with The Contemporary Art Society. Their lectures ‘How to buy contemporary art’ and ‘How modern art relates to Britain’s history have been highly educational for us. We learnt tips on what to look for when shopping for art and how to appreciate contemporary work that we may have previously dismissed as unattractive or beyond our comprehension. We decorated the space with a quirky collection of creations – on the back wall we placed a set of ‘Rolling Stones’ grape coloured lips, stuffed them with crushed autumn leaves, and for additional drama we inserted a hurricane of leaves that spiralled into the room, surrounding our red begowned mannequin; we decorated our male mannequin with a breast plate of leaves in a variety of autumn colours, adorned his head with spikes of tree branches, and made him a stylish necklace using bunches of rosehip berries. 

Pasi and Brigitte’s daily wreath making workshops have been very popular with adults and children alike. A group of girls loved their finished wreath’s so much they were wore them in their hair and a young lad wore his as a bracelet. On Saturday we hosted a family session where parents and their children made wreaths from materials collected from the heath. Such a colourful array of wreaths were taken home by their very proud creators.

We were lucky to be part of the preview event on day one and met some great gallery hosts as well as visitors. In the latter category we came across the work of Walter Raes, a designer of wearable art made from consumer cast offs. Two of his models were wearing some of his recent creations, trainer shoes made into a jacket and old negative film strips made in to a dress; Gallery Violet, hosted the amazing work of Andrew Weiss. We loved all of the paintings on display but the one that stood out, and was the public’s favourite, judging by the amount of times it was photographed, was ‘Reunion’. It was so popular in fact that it was sold within a few hours of the art fair opening. It was a crazy and delightful piece with bright colours bleeding into each other but contrasting quite brilliantly; the sculptures of Antonio Lopez Reche,, are very sketch like in appearance, with the barest of structures in wood or metal.  The shadows of each work, cast by the ariel spot lights, helped to create a ghostly but artistic backdrop; Degree Art, featured the oil face paintings of Sophie Derrick. Her artistic method is interesting in itself, step one – she coats the face of her sitter in oil paint, step two, photographs the image and finally, step three, thickly colours in the features and the background with oil paint. The finished work has a lot of emotinal depth and realism. And in sharp contrast we love the delicate and sensitive work of Hannah Lewis Davis, our favourite piece was ‘When I was four’; the first of two print makers we chatted to was Martin Langford, who also produces prints of his own original work. The themes are dark but are packed with environmental and political humour. One work that appealed to our own political sensitivity is ’Hungry City’ that features a bleak landscape and the destruction of the supermarket Tesco. Bravo Martin for creating such heartfelt works of art; Artichoke printmaking, produce some great reproductions of quality art that include Napoleon on horseback, the original is hung at the Bankside Gallery.

Hampstead has really given AAF a warm welcome. The feedback from the local people regarding the art work and events has been very favourable;, and just as importantly, they have shown such enthusiasm about our work, understanding the philosophy of our creations, and have booked to attend our Christmas Preview next month.

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