Hidden gems at The Other Art Fair and the Affordable Art Fair

It's fair season in London, and unsurprisingly, Frieze has dominated the headlines. Snooze.

Being a lady with, let's say, 'limited financial means' and a flag waving for the under dog, I sniffed out a couple of alternative options...

The Other Art Fair

Ok, so it was a few weeks ago now. Apols for the tardiness. But it was a hell of a show, held in a huge space just off Brick Lane in London. It was October, it was raining, and true to form, the inhabitants of Brick Lane all had sunglasses on...

I may be disparaging of improper use of sunglasses, but inside, the dedication to aesthetic raged on. There was a heavy weighting towards contemporary art of the metropolis, but in amongst the madness, the graffiti and the social commentary, I found solace in Jonathan Speed.

Scattered Clouds, Jonathan Speed

He's a self-taught painter, working largely from photographs of nature. That, in itself, is refreshingly traditional; but the end-product isn't what you'd expect. It's timeless. If someone told me these pieces had been painted at some point between 1900 and today, I wouldn't quite know where to place them. And I like that stubborn refusal to join a movement.

The out-of-focus effect shows just how big an impact the photography has on the final canvas. But he showed me one of the photographs and it's entirely in focus; he adds that effect himself.

Hermione Carline was another artist who really caught my eye. We share a love for Japan, which is evident in her latest series. She'll be speaking to Artwork Wednesdays in the not-too-distant future about where her inspiration comes from, so I won't include any spoilers here.

Tokyo Mist, Hermione Carline

All in all, it was a fantastic show that, I'm sure, will become infamous for sparking the careers of the next big names.

The Affordable Art Fair

And here's a fair that needs no introduction. With wild success all over the world, the Affordable Art Fair does that most important work: introducing new artists to new audiences.

It's held in Battersea Park, which is so beautiful in the autumn. Just one of the many pretty views on the walk down there:

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm proudly Cornish, so perhaps I was biased, but I detected a strong influence from the St Ives School at this fair. Lots of objects on windowsills, looking out onto harbours. There were a few that were painted in a style like Alfred Wallis - the untaught old fisherman who painted on driftwood he found on the shore in St. Ives.

Alfred Wallis, St. Ives

When I came to the Cornwall Contemporary stand, I was really excited. I'm usually all about paintings, with a bit of photography here and there. Woodcuts aren't typically my thing - but that's clearly because I'm an idiot, and had never seen Rob Braybrooks before. His relief woodcuts are just so. damn. beautiful. He works from his studio-workshop overlooking Mount's Bay in Cornwall ad has been observing birdlife, flora and the local landscape for many years. Here's one of his pieces:

Wood cut, Rob Braybrooks

...Aaaaand here's the one I bought. Despite the fact that I have NO MONEY at the moment. Rob Braybrooks, you do beautiful work but I'll be blaming you when I'm having baked beans for dinner every night next week.

So, in short, those two fairs rocked.


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