The Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, London was the venue for Talented Art Fair 2019. This iconic building is a magnet for visitors to the area, from the vintage market stalls at the weekend to the regular turnover of art exhibitions, degree shows and craft fairs. On Friday 1st March, everything fell into place beautifully and set the scene for a hundred artists to share their work at a lively private view. One of the great features of this fair is that there are a large number of people passing through. Lots of visitors to the Shoreditch area took advantage of the free entry to browse through the displays of artworks all through the weekend.
One of the reasons for participating in an art fair is to meet all sorts of people who come to look at artwork. One can get some good insights into what certain audiences are interested in and I say this with some deliberation. The kinds of conversations I had with audiences and artists at shows at the time of my MA were very different. In those instances you have viewers who have high levels of visual and cultural literacy and are looking for artworks which challenge conventional conceptual themes or approaches. The work takes greater risks and can be very experimental. At an art fair, the artists typically have one goal in mind - to sell their work. Their audience have a more personal reaction to work and their context is more about how the work would appear as an investment for their home or as a gift for others.
For me, the art fair was an opportunity to engage with people rather than purely for sales. My artwork became a conversation point about art and music. In some cases I was able to inform those interested in the subject matter about the recent surge in popularity of the "New Generation of British Jazz", particularly pointing out my paintings and photos of Sheila Maurice Grey and Blue Lab Beats .
I wanted to find out what a range of different people thought about my jazz portraits. I had really good conversations with some of the visitors and a chance to network with other artists. A number of my fellow ArtCan artists were showing as well, including Irene Raspolini, Lauren Mele and Brian Parker. ArtCan was holding a workshop nearby so Mirella Bandini, KV Duong and ArtCan Trustee and Londonist Art critic, Tabish Khan dropped in to offer support and have a look at our exhibition spaces. Irene wowed visitors with her use of augmented reality, where her paintings literally came to life when viewed through a smartphone app; Lauren wanted to showcase her most recent paintings, a series of nudes painted with great slabs of brushwork that showed economy as well as expression of fleshy forms. I also enjoyed catching up with Martin Turner, whose hyperreallist pencil drawings drew gasps of admiration for his precision and patient accuracy with pencil; I met Darius Rowland for the first time and was taken by the variety of subject matter in his display. His aircraft paintings are informed by his day job as an airline pilot, but he had a lot to say about his approach to oil painting and the speed he liked to work at when completing works as diverse as landscapes or close-up images of eyes.
The Talented Art Fair team are headed up by Oliver Norris and Leah Michelle who put a lot of time and effort into organising this impressive event. Along with JA Neto of The Culthouse UK., they manage the ambitions and expectations of the artist calmly and with good humour. They do this because they really enjoy staging big artistic events and have a genuine interest in the work that they promote. Any artists wishing to exhibit in a supportive environment for the first time in London would do well to apply to the New Artist Fair, which takes place in September at the same venue.
It was a pleasure to meet super bass player, the talented Matt Ridley who had played with some of the Jazz musicians in the paintings.