Even in the cold of January, the London Art Fair at the Business and Design Centre in Islington has lost none of its vibrancy, and remains a fresh, up-beat annual event and a great start to the year.
It’s a slightly awkward space, with a split-level main hall, and further stands housed upstairs, but once you understand the space, it’s a nice venue to explore and get lost in the art.
As soon as I went in, I was met by an excitingly large Henri Gaudier Brzeska relief of two wrestlers.
Henri Gaudier Brzeska Wrestlers 1914
However, this version was cast in the 1960s (Gaudier Brzeska having died in the first world war at 23) so it's arguable how much it is an 'original' - however it's yours for £85,000! It was just one of many high-price tag (or even POA ) works for sale at the fair - obviously there's the market out there for them.
Also on the same stand was a gorgeous Peter Lanyon, with more of his work, including a blue glass sculpture, at Offer Waterman and Co. Lanyon was a Cornish artist, whose edgily visceral landscape work was always very much about experiencing a place, and has a very tangible excitement about it. He was a glider pilot although he suffered from vertigo (ultimately he was killed in a flying accident), and he liked to incorporate this seen-from-the-air viewpoint combined with an element of off-balance tension into his work.
Peter Lanyon Blue Glass Airscape 1960( glass, ceramic, plaster & paint on cork)
Another Cornish-based artist (though originally from Scotland) was Margaret Mellis, whose drfitwood construction was on the Cyril Gerber stand. Her studio must have been a complete fire-hazard, as it was piled high with stacks of found wood which she collected from the Cornwall beaches.
There were plenty of other big names of 20th century art to get your teeth into - Elizabeth Frink (especially the large Fighting Cocks bronze), Joe Tilson's Wooden Relief 1960 at Austin/Desmond Fine Art, the Boyle Family's Fire Series with Melted Records with Richard Saltoun (they used to do the groovy visual effects at early Pink Floyd concerts), even Charles Rennie Mackintosh's delicate watercolour Alder Catkins, Walberswick of 1914 (Mackintosh was arrested as a suspected German spy while he was at Walberswick because of his thick Scottish accent and constant sending of letters to foreign places). Yours for £28,500! Ewan Mundy also had a lovely William Gillies ink drawing of Anstruther for £4250 - yum.
I must mention Jo Taylor's work with Lena Boyle Fine Art. Although I'm no expert on horses, I do love her large-scale equine collages, with their gorgeously expressive lines.
It's always strange when you see your own work at a gallery or an art fair. In this case, my work was with Duncan Miller on a stand at the back of the main hall, which meant that you could see it from quite far away down one of the main corridors. It's like seeing your work afresh, in its Sunday best. It was great to view it in such a location getting a lot of positive attention at the fair, and also in such estemmed company as Joan Eardley and the Scottish Colourists.
I hope that those of you who attended the fair, and especially those of you who were able to make use of the complimentary tickets, will have had an equally interesting and fruitful time.
If you were there, it would be great to have your feedback!