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The Affordable Art Fair

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Most of the information you need about this event is in the name. If it were called "The Contemporary Art Priced between 50 and 3000 Fair" it would be giving just about everything away, but it would also be a bit more than a mouthful even for lovers of an artistic bargain. So "The Affordable Art Fair" it remains, and it falls to me to fill in, the very limited, blanks.

The first blank is why?

The fair founder says that there's an assumption that you have to be an art expert or a millionaire to buy contemporary art and that this is piffle. If the name of this art fair makes its M.O. clear as glass, then as a description the words 'Contemporary Art' are about as clear as pitch, and apply to a lot of very, very different things. Which means that by the sheer scale of the odds there has to be at least a single item of contemporary art to appeal to each person on the planet.

Once you've pushed aside the conception some people may have that contemporary art is not for them, the other thing that precludes people from buying art is price, so the AAF pushes that to the side as well. And they say: hey presto, you've got a whole lotta people with something unique adorning their walls (or other, depending on the piece.) to appreciate, and a whole lot of happy artists.

The second blank is where and when?

The first AAF was held in Battersea Park in October of 1999, and this year the London AAF will be held in Battersea Park between Thursday the 21st October and Sunday the 24th of October. Since its inception it's gone global, but it's still a local at heart, and well supported by Londoners. Especially those who appreciate a fair fair.

The third blank is what exactly?

It's impossible to really begin to explain the sort of things displayed at the AAF because there are thousands of exhibits on sale. Organisers are promising everything from 'that piece you're looking for to bring your room together' to 'early works by the-soon-to-be-next-big-thing'.

Art from more than 120 different galleries and independent exhibitors is coming in from near and far to adorn the humble, tent like walls of Battersea Park's Exhibition Hall in glory. Coming from afar are works from Paris's Galerie du Fleuve from Paris and Prague's Art Master Gallery from Prague, and from nearer, works from Cornwalls Lighthouse Gallery and pieces from London's Artichoke Printmaking.

And the final blank is who?
You. They say it's for everyone, and it's usually a very inclusive event appealing to tastes as varied as the paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and sculptures for sale. If you're not quite sure what you're looking for - or you're just there trying to spot a piece that's going to fund your retirement - The Contemporary Art Society will be running a series of informal talks about collecting art, which include a tour of the fair. The AAF is also putting on classes in everything from drawing, to drypoint printmaking to model-making - for kids AND adults - and quite a lot of family type entertainment. And a creche, and a cafe and bar. Previous events couldn't be much further from the words stuffy or snobby.

If you're really keen to snap up your piece of choice come early or wrangle yourself a ticket to one of the only exclusive events of the show the previewing for celebs and artists. If you don't make it in this year maybe next year it will be worth submitting something of your own for selection for the fair - then you're sure to get a ticket to the previews.
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Why? You know you want to buy cheap art
When: 21st - 24th October. Doors open 11am 5.30pm on Thursday and 11am - 6pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Where: Battersea Park, nearest tube station Slone Square
Cost: Tickets cost 12.00 on the door on Thursday and Friday, and 15.00 on the door at the weekend.
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