Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Affordable Art

A couple of weeks back the Affordable Art Fair made its annual visit to Bristol and I was invited to take a look around courtesy of Smithson Art Gallery. Bristol's a creative city and galleries and print shops abound, but what's great about the Art Fair is being able to see a variety of stuff in one huge place. This time around some 55 galleries were in attendance, taking over the vast space that is the Engine Room at Temple Meads station. The fair rolls into town each year, as well as taking up residence in two locations in London, Hampstead and Battersea. If you missed the Bristol event and don't want to wait until next year to see what the fair's all about, the next event takes place at Battersea Evolution on 23rd-26th October. 

So, what exactly is meant by 'affordable'? Unfortunately most of the pieces that caught my eye were very much out of my budget (a particular favourite came in at £1700) but in proper art terms this does constitute a reasonable price point and if you're a serious art collector you'd find plenty to tempt you. For amateur art fans like myself, it's perhaps less about investing in a piece and more about dipping a toe into the contemporary art scene, seeing which artists catch your eye and perhaps leaving with a print to brighten up a bare wall.

What I enjoyed about it was being able to browse at ease - it's a different experience to stepping into an empty gallery and feeling a bit self conscious about looking around with no real intention to buy. There was also a huge range of styles on offer, from edgy photography to quirky screen prints, unusual sculptures to nostalgic watercolours. After a bit of deliberation I came away empty handed but there were plenty of pieces I hesitated over, none of them coming in over my pre-set budget of £100. But with no obvious space to fill on my walls and other more pressing financial obligations needing attention, I decided to hold off making a purchase. 

If you can't get to London and don't want to wait a whole year for the next Art Fair, this month signals the beginning of the autumn arts trail season in Bristol, with the West Bristol artistic community hosting their trail on the 11th and 12th October. Taking in private homes and studios around Clifton, Redland and Hotwells, it's a good way to view local talent across everything from jewellery making to ceramics. Find out full details here.

Then in November, North Bristol takes up the baton, with one of the biggest trails in the city covering areas such as Bishopston, Horfield and St Andrews. I've been visiting the trail for the last couple of years and love the idea of popping into different homes and studios, meeting with the artists and browsing original pieces of art that usually have a very affordable price tag. Find out more about North Bristol Arts trail here. 

Finally, you can also browse affordable art without even leaving the house thanks to www.original-art-under100.com/. I came across this site thanks to brilliant blog The Frugality. There's a lot on this site so you may need to do some sifting to unearth something that rocks your boat, but there are handy filters to help make the job easier, and the prices are very wallet-friendly if you want to buy something a bit more unique than a ubiquitous Ikea print but don't know where to start.


1 comment

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