Taking place in the wonderfully picturesque setting of Chilford Hall in Linton just outside Cambridge is the annual art fair, returning for its fourth year. With 42 galleries an in turn hundreds of artists exhibiting it is not hard to find something of interest whether you are a local visitor or have travelled from across the country to see the selection of works.
The fair is advertised as a ‘one stop shop' for those who have a serious interest in art and collecting, and they are not wrong, it is almost like a supermarket for art with prices clearly displayed and ranging from £50- £50,000. Paintings, prints, photographs and 3D works all fight for attention in the pavilion and gallery hall and some succeed more effectively than others mainly due to the fantastic selections made by the galleries and their methods of display.
The galleries goals are to promote their artists and therefore are all very welcoming and often operate the ‘own art' interest free loan scheme. This actually makes the pieces on display much more affordable to those who are not necessarily regulars to these types of events. It is a scheme that should be applauded and hopefully encourage more people to consider owning the art that they would normally not allow themselves. The fair brings art from all over the country to a single audience and encourages the purchase of something that can bring so much joy.
Established local galleries such as Byard Art can be seen in a context outside of their city centre gallery and allows the visitors to see the regular contributing artists in a different light. Cambridge Open Studios regular Richard Heeps was seen in a prominent position this year at the fair, a whole booth belonging to Bleachbox gallery devoted their space to the photographer's incredibly evocative pieces.
Many of the galleries contributing to the fair seemed to have similar themes throughout their displays, commercial art that is almost guaranteed to sell and yet sometimes lacks individuality and gumption. The galleries that took more of a risk in their display and selection were far more successful in the level of interest that they gained from viewers. The Curwen Studio really shone in this arena with a fantastic selection of interesting prints that really complimented each other. A friendly and incredibly enthusiastic staff member of the gallery was willing to chat to viewers, stirring up interest and directing them to the working print studio also worth visiting in the grounds of Chilford Hall. Works included those by Helaine Blumenfeld who also happened to be the invited artist for this years fair, her prints and sculpture reminiscent of Henry Moore and Brancusi.
Other galleries that managed to break away from the norm of oil painted landscapes and abstract acrylics were London based Liberty Gallery and Tag Fine Arts. Liberty showed wonderfully quirky collage pieces by artists Alexander Korzer and Maria Rivans. Tag Fine Arts had visitors smiling and browsing with serious thoughts of purchase in their minds since their collection of prints included those by the popular Rob Ryan and Sir Peter Blake.
It is a refreshing change to see pieces in a different context to their ordinary gallery setting and it encourages new viewers to follow up any particular collections or individual artists that they have not seen before. Although this event is a wonderful benchmark in the calendar for many established and budding art collectors there is a feeling that most of the galleries seem to only promote the artists that they believe will sell rather than take a risk with an unknown artist whose art could become the next big thing.
The Cambridge Art Fair took place from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th June at Chilford Hall