London Art Fair 2017; pointers from a pro

This year’s  London Art Fair takes place from 18-22 January 2017 at the Business Design Centre in Islington. It’s an absolute must if you’re in the market for Modern British and/or contemporary art or you just want some cultural enrichment in your life.

We spoke to Kate Jones, Business Development Director at John Jones Ltd, to get a few pointers on first-time purchasing and find out exactly what she’s looking forward to seeing.

Abe Odedinda, The Adoration of Frida Part I, 2013. Acrylic on board. Courtesy of Ed Cross Fine Art: Contemporary African Art

Image via London Art Fair Facebook page. Abe Odedinda, The Adoration of Frida Part I, 2013 courtesy of Ed Cross Fine Art: Contemporary African Art

Why is the London Art Fair one to have down in the diary?

It’s just so accessible. Frieze is fabulous, of course, but it’s big and glitzy – a bit like shopping on Bond Street – whereas the London Art Fair feels more relaxed and easier to take in.

I also think LAF has a great spirit – you can see a huge variety of artwork that is all of a certain standard, so you’re guaranteed better quality art than some of the other art fairs around. Plus, Art Projects and Photo 50 are absolutely brilliant. The fair works with some incredible curators who deliver thought provoking, aesthetically beautiful exhibitions.

What are the exhibiting galleries you are most excited about this year?

All of the galleries in the Projects section as they tend to show more challenging, contemporary work. In the main fair I’m looking forward to seeing the new prints on offer at Jealous Gallery and Advanced Graphics, especially Ray Richardson. Purdy Hicks also have some beautiful photography.

I’m looking forward to seeing works from the Ingram Collection, which via The Lightbox is this year’s museum partner. My friend Jo is the curator there and the collection boasts an impressive range of modern British artists, including stalwarts like Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and David Hockney.

What talks/ tours on this year’s event programme will you be attending and why?

Fashion & Photography (Wednesday at 1.30pm), it sounds fascinating.

Advice for  a first time art buyer?

Don’t jump in too soon, really think beforehand about what type of art you’d like to invest in. Whilst it’s brilliant to buy art because you’ve fallen in love with it then and there, I know so many collectors who keep most of their art under their bed because they don’t have the right space for it. So think about what you’d like, where it’s going to go, what size piece you want, your budget. Absolutely go and look for inspiration, but perhaps give yourself time to reflect on the work before committing to a purchase.

What are the no-nos when purchasing a piece? What should you never ask the artist?

Never buy a piece to be fashionable. Never buy for investment. Always buy from the heart – if it feels right and you’ve given it some time to reflect, it will be right.

Never ask the artist if they can make it in another colour!

Art Projects and Photo50; what do we need to know?

I’ll be heading straight to the Art Projects section of the fair, where I’m looking forward to seeing the figurative works on plywood by African artist Abe Odedina at Ed Cross Gallery. I love his use of colour and the simple yet mesmerising style – plus the quirky titles (Lucky Knickers being a favourite).

I’ll also be checking out Iniva’s exhibition of six female artists, particularly Joy Gregory, whose series ‘Cinderella Tours’ I love (Gregory photographs a pair of golden shoes at various attractions on her European Grand Tour – places of unattainable dreams for many of the Caribbean women that she interviewed during a research trip).

I love work that carries a message, that engages my brain rather than just offering visual aesthetic; Gregory’s work does both.

As a photography lover (and a mother), my next stop will be this year’s instalment of Photo50 ‘Gravitas’. Guest curator Christiane Monarchi – editor of PhotoMonitor magazine – has set the theme this year as the path to adolescence. Wendy McMurdo has produced a particularly compelling image highlighting the dual existence that many young people have with the digital world.

I love Chiara William’s gallery too – she always stages fantastically challenging shows, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she has this year.

I’m also keen to see Melanie Manchot’s nine channel video, where she has documented the path of her daughter from age 11 to 18 (filming one minute per month). The work looks poignant and beautiful and I imagine I’ll spend some time reflecting on this along with work by the 12 other lens based artists.

It’s 1pm and we’re famished, where do we go for lunch and glass of something bubbly to consider a piece of art we’ve got eyes on?

Definitely Bellanger. I’m there for breakfast, lunch and dinner this year.

To find out exactly what’s on and when at this year’s London Art Fair check out the website here.

Push x

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