Just How Different Is The Other Art Fair

In cutting out the middleman and helping artists sell directly to art buyers, does The Other Art Fair provide a real alternative to the established model?

Free from the money, galleries and powerful figures that dominate the art market today, The Other Art Fair is proud of its otherness and determined not to be just another stuffy art fair. This brand new fair cuts out the middleman, releasing artists from the established systems of representation and salesmanship, and providing a new platform whereby they sell work directly to art buyers.

The Other Art Fair showcases 100 selected artists whittled down from many applicants, reflecting a wide range of skills, medium and interests. The immediate benefit of The Other Art Fair set-up is the way in which you can float freely from one artwork to the next, pulled in by anything that catches your eye – whether it is, for example, Henry Wood’s puppet-like sculptures Jamie Lau’s over sized C type prints, E.A Byrne text works or Emma Kemp’s powerful landscapes.

Refreshingly, this is an art fair for art virgins, with buying opportunities pointedly not confined to the experienced art collectors, gallerists and curators. At the Other Art Fair, it seems that anyone wealthy enough to afford the tube fare to the Southbank venue can become an art collector, with prices starting at 99p at Joffe and Pye’s 99p Shop.

But this fair is desperate not to be just an ‘affordable art’ fair. And, if for no other reason, this is achieved due to the lack of twee polish usually associated with amateur art sales. Freeing itself entirely of all the pretentions of the ‘art fair’, this is an exciting if not somewhat slapdash alternative, with crumbling walls, warning tape and paint fumes aplenty. Of course, the fair has pretentions of its own, actively aligning itself with the festival experience, replete with secret garden, Café Du Pique-Nique, design-your-own pop-up, and a kids interactive corner; art and a hamper, what more could you want?

Ultimately, The Other Art Fair, (whether or not the art itself is to your taste), does pose an interesting question: in today’s economic climate, do we really need art galleries? Why not cut out the middleman, allowing profit to go to those who really deserve it? In this, The Other Art Fair not only showcases emerging talent but perhaps heralds the arrival of a new era for the British art market. Perhaps… Words / Photo: Lily Mull © 2011 ArtLyst