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Art lovers unite for the Affordable Art Fair

Retrospect-Alex-Louisa-Major-MitchellThis week we’re looking forward to one of the great annual treats of the art world, the Affordable Art Fair, which is open to the public from 12 – 15 March at Battersea.

Art lovers with relatively small budgets will delight in this show, which is packed full of painterly, illustrative and sculptural treasures to tickle almost any fancy. All art works must be priced below £5,000 to qualify for the exhibition and many are set at below the £500 mark.

The history of the show goes back to 1996, when Will Ramsay opened Will’s Art Warehouse in southwest London to bridge the increasing interest in contemporary art and the London gallery scene. By concentrating on relatively unknown artists not carrying a premium for reputation, the gallery was able to offer works from £50 – £2,500 from a stable of over 150 artists.

Triangle-Gallery-Meg-Dutton-Garden-LakeThe response Will received to his Art Warehouse inspired him to take his approach to the next level, and three years later the Affordable Art Fair was born. Embracing other friendly galleries selling affordable art, the first fair launched in Battersea Park in October 1999. 10,000 visitors took advantage of the ease of buying, breadth of choice, affordable prices and user-friendly approach.

Will then went on to launch a second event in Battersea Park in March 2001, to showcase entirely different artists from the October event. Now up to 22,500 people come to each London fair to enjoy the art exhibited by the 120 British and international galleries. In the same year he established a fair in the West Country; the Bristol fair in September is now very popular attracting around 6,500 visitors over three days.

The-Doorway-Gallery-Carol-Read-and-Richard-Ballantyne-Polar-BearToday, Will’s Art Warehouse still stands and the Affordable Art Fair has become something of a global phenomenon. The success of the British fairs encouraged Will to explore other markets and the Affordable Art Fair now takes place in cities including Amsterdam, Brussels, New York, Milan, Singapore, Hamburg, Seoul, Stockholm, Hong Kong and Maastricht. Globally, over 1.6 million people have visited an Affordable Art Fair, buying over £235 million worth of art.

Linda-Blackstone-Gallery-Dganit-Blechner-Paint-Your-DreamsWill has also founded contemporary art-hub PULSE, held annually in New York and Miami; co-founded Asia’s leading art fair, the prestigious ART HK (which has since become Art Basel in Hong Kong); as well as being a shareholder in Art India, the sub-continent’s first international art fair, attracting over 190,000 visitors since its launch in 2008.

Images from top to bottom:

Iona-House-Gallery-Brendan-Hesmondalgh-FoxAlex Louisa’s humorous portrait ‘Major Mitchell’, in oil and acrylic on wood, will be shown at the fair by Retrospect Galleries. 50cm diameter, £650.

Based on observations of early Indian and Turkish paintings of landscape and pattern, Meg Dutton creates her etchings finished with watercolour, such as ‘Garden Lake’.

Fusing Renaissance and post-modern elements and techniques, Iva Troj created the breathtaking ‘Red Lake’ from inks, oil pastels and acrylics. See it at the fair with Coombe Gallery. 40 x 78cm, £4,800.

Carol Read and Richard Ballantyne’s playful ‘Polar Bear’, crafted in glazed ceramic. See their work in Battersea with The Doorway Gallery. 30 x 25 x 30cm, €170.

Pop artist Dganit Blechner creates his psychedelic images in mixed media on canvas. Courtesy of the Linda Blackstone Gallery. Edition of 8 with 4 artists proofs, 137 x 160cm, £3,550.

Brendan Hesmondalgh’s characterful animal sculptures are crafted in clay, such as this wily ‘Fox’. See it in Battersea with Iona House Gallery. 1.2m height, £3,200.