"Why do we need another art fair?" "Why not?" I say in return. I work for The Other Art Fair, London's newest and most exciting fair to hit town in the last 10 years, so it's a question I am often faced with.
I then patiently explain that this is not a graduate show, neither is it an affordable art fair. What we are is The Other Art Fair, a fair that seeks to demonstrate that some of the leading talents within contemporary British art cannot be found with the traditional gallery space. All the artists exhibiting have been chosen from hundreds of applications by a panel of leading contemporary art experts including Godfrey Worsdale (Director of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and judge of this year's Turner Prize, Charming Baker (Contemporary British Artist), Sophie Hastings (Contributing Editor, GQ), Graham Fink (CCO Ogilvy & Mather) and Dr. Anthony Downey (Director of MA Contemporary Art Programme, Sotheby's Institute of Art). Ranging from young emerging artists to more established and successfully independent artists The Other Art Fair is a specially curated microcosm of what contemporary British art is today.
"Do we need galleries?" is the silent question The Other Art Fair asks each visitor. With the development of digital media and e-commerce sites there is a sense that the art establishment is changing. Harry Blaine's new digital art site is perhaps an indication of the first steps the art establishment is taking into a new age. Artists do not necessarily need to have gallery representation to be successful. Take Charming Baker, for example.
Although I would like to stress that this is not a fair acting against galleries but rather it stems from an understanding of the difficulties of being an unrepresented artists within today's economic climate. Being independent from galleries doesn't work for everyone but what we offer is, as I stated before, a new platform for artists to exhibit their work without those pesky gallery fees (they keep 100% of the profit) and the suggestion of new ways of being a successful artist.
I guess what it comes down to is that The Other Art Fair isn't just a fair, it is an art experience both for the artists and for the visitors. Providing advice to both the artists in the run up to the fair and the visitors throughout the fair we hope to disband any tradition idea of art fairs being insular and intimidating. Whilst we do have white walls, that is where the comparisons to traditional art fairs begin and end. Every feature of the fair is lead by art, from The Robin Collective's experiential Café to Joffe and Pye's 99p Art Shop. There will be no po-faced assistants, everyone who is there is passionate about what we are doing and keen to point out their favourite artists and features of the fair. On that note, here are my top five:
Club Monaco Art Award
This is a £5000 commission of an artist chosen by both the public and the panel. The work will be exhibited in London and New York and then sold giving the artists 100% of the profits.
The Robin Collective's Café du Pique-Nique
Experience a little summer in November with their full-scale secret garden where visitors can buy a picnic basket, eat and relax.
Tom's Shoes - One for One Competition
Our friends at Tom's will be running an interactive stand where you can create your own personal piece of shoe art using a paper origami shoe. One chosen design will be brought to life.
Joffe and Pye's 99p Art Shop
Always looking to create an impact, well known artists Jasper Joffe and Harry Pye will be encouraging anyone to become an art collector with their very own 99p shop.
Finally, and most importantly - The artists: We have here a microcosm of contemporary British art - and what could be more exciting than that!