London Art Fairs

I still remember my first trip to London almost 10 years ago. I was only fourteen years old when I went with my list of museums and ga...

I still remember my first trip to London almost 10 years ago. I was only fourteen years old when I went with my list of museums and galleries that I wanted to see in hand. It's habit that has been passed on from my mother: to see as many cultural things when traveling as possible. Little did I know that several years later I'd be moving to Canterbury for university and be cramming events and gallery hopping during the frequent trips I made to London over the 4 years I was studying.

The beautiful thing about London is that there is always something interesting going on. Autumn is a time of the year that is particularly rich in cultural events. Over the past 4 years that I've been attending the art fairs that fall in October, the following are the ones I recommend you see the most if you live in London or happen to be visiting at this time of the year.

Frieze Art Fair
 6th-9th October, 2016
Regent’s Park 

Frieze was founded in 1991 by Amanda Sharp, Matthew Slotover and Tom Gidley. Initially, they launched Frieze magazine - a leading magazine of contemporary art and culture. Slotover and Gidley later went on to establish Frieze Art Fair in London, which has become a world renowned international art fair that is held annually in October in Regents Park since 2003. The fair is now also held annually in New York since 2012.

The crowd that this 4-day art fair attracts is an interesting mix of art connoisseurs, dealers and critics, as well as students, families and general lovers of art. Just last year, there were 55,000 people in visitors. Tickets start selling relatively early, however you can still find tickets available close to the actual date of the event (unless you are buying a discounted student ticket, then you will need to buy at least two weeks ahead of the event). From my personal experience, hitting the fair before the weekend is better and you should allow yourself two to three hours at the least to really see all it has to offer. Last year, there were 164 galleries from 27 different countries selling artworks that range from affordable to almost priceless. There is such a plethora of contemporary art to see in a wide range of media, from paintings to photography to some very interesting performance art. One of last years highlights were Tunga's Twins, a performance piece by the recently passed Brazilian artist Antonio Jose de Barros Carvalho e Mello MourĂ£o, which featured twins conjoined by the hair walking through the fair.

Tunga’s Twins at Frieze 2015    -    Cierra by John de Andrea at Frieze 2015

However, if contemporary art is not your thing, you can take a short walk through Regent's Park to the other part of Frieze, known as Frieze Masters. This ticket can be bought separately or as a package with the contemporary Frieze event. There is a different air to this part of the fair, as the artwork that is featured is from the late 20th century or earlier. I would highly suggest purchasing the combined ticket if you appreciate older art and would like to experience this fair to the fullest. If you want to get that extra bit of insight to the fair, you can also book yourself for a guided tour.

The Other Art Fair
Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane
6-9th October, 2016

If you're looking for an art fair that you can actually purchase a piece of art without it costing you a fortune, make sure you get yourself a ticket to The Other Art Fair. This fair is biannual, so if you aren't around for the one in October, you also have the chance to go in April when it is held at the Victoria House in Bloomsbury.

TOAF was established five years ago by founder and general manager, Ryan Stanier, who saw a "disparity between a London audience eager to discover the next big thing and talented artists struggling to gain recognition". And the man has done a beautiful job over the 5 years of this fair's existence in creating an intimate and inspirational environment in which visitors directly buy from the artists themselves. Over the years I've attended TOAF, I have developed a personal connection with it. It has not only exposes me to the amazing artists that I've become a huge fan of, but to also meet them, buy from them and establish friendships with them.

Carolina Mizrahi’s Stall, TOAF 2015    -    Benjamin Murphey’s Stall, TOAF 2014

If you only have time to attend one of the fair's I talk about here, TOAF is the one I recommend most strongly. Although it is much smaller in size than Frieze or the London Art Fair, allow yourself at least 2 hours for this fair. Make sure to talk to the artist who's work you're interested in or admire, as this one of the things that makes your experience of this fair unique!

Modern Panic VII
6th-14th October
Newspeak House, Bethnal Green

Modern Panic is an annual art show by the contemporary arts organization, Guerrilla Zoo. I only started attending last year, as I assisted for a couple of days in preparation of and during the event. Guerrilla Zoo's founder and creative director, James Elphick, is the curator of this "unique and powerful collection of surreal, controversial and provocative international artists". This year marks the 7th edition of of the Modern Panic exhibition, in which the art is available for purchase (both online and at the gallery).

MisSa Blue at Modern Panic VI

I wish I had known about this exhibition earlier, because it was truly a unique experience to say the least. It really opened up a whole new area of London's art seen that I had not been exposed to before. If you're looking for something more alternative and underground than what the big art establishments of London have to offer, Modern Panic is for you. The performance art last year was particularly spectacular, but in some cases not for the faint hearted! Of the events I've mentioned here, I will disclose the least about this one, because there is definitely a degree of extra excitement that will come with attending Modern Panic without a detailed description of what to expect. I would highly recommend attending on the opening night (aka Private View), as there is a great buzz. Tickets can be purchased online from the Guerrilla Zoo website.

Written By: Victoria Gino

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