To say that Affordable Art Fair director Stephanie Kelly is crazy about art is an understatement – she even had an art registry for her wedding. Six years on from the launch of the fair, she gives #legend a taste of what’s to come for this edition from May 18 to 20, and how she’s seen the art world evolving in Hong Kong.
An art fair for all, the Affordable Art Fair attracts a diverse audience, from experienced buyers to art lovers. For the last 20 years, the Affordable Art Fair has developed and democratised the global art market, helping art lovers become art buyers, inspiring the next generation with our accessible education, nurturing young artists and providing a platform for galleries to grow. In Hong Kong, new for 2018 is our #ForArtsSake Friday, which focuses on the importance of mental well-being and the power of art, and supports our two charities: the Sovereign Art Foundation and the Joyful Mental Health Foundation. An exciting and interactive evening of art, five local and international artists will be in action to create artworks for charity, as well as yoga life drawing and dance performances. To raise money for the work our charities do in bringing expressive arts to disadvantaged children and supporting mental health, limited-edition tote bags created by Vanessa Wong will also be available for sale, with 100 per cent of proceeds going to our charities.
One of the dangers of my job is getting addicted to art! With thousands of artists’ work on-site, there’s something for every taste and every budget. Personal favourites include Italian artist Pep Marchegiani, with his sociopolitical interpretation of classical artworks, and Steven Lindsay, a portrait artist who appreciates powerful women. I’m also looking forward to Filipino sculpture artist Ram Mallari Jr.
Hong Kong is a dynamic and vibrant art market – there’s a passion for art and a realisation that culture and art belongs to all. The Affordable Art Fair is proud to be helping make contemporary art accessible; last year, we had more than 30,000 visitors, with HK$34 million in art sales and more than 20 per cent of artworks going to first- time buyers.
Be prepared. Take some time to think about what you’re looking for – a new local artist, an artwork to celebrate an occasion or the perfect piece to fill a blank wall. Find out what’s on offer from the galleries and artists exhibiting by browsing our catalogues, website and social media.
Ask questions. Gallerists are there to talk to visitors, so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation. They’ll want to share the story behind the artwork – the artists’ inspiration, training, techniques, materials and accolades.
Snap your shortlist. With 1,000 artists on display, it can feel a little overwhelming. Take photos to create a shortlist of artworks you like – making sure you include the info labels. If you need more time to make a decision, the gallery can reserve the artwork for you to avoid disappointment.
Trust your instincts. If you find yourself still thinking about a certain piece as you walk through the fair, you know you’ve found your fit. Trust your taste and buy art that makes you feel happy every time you see it.
Will Ramsay, founder of the Affordable Art Fair, set the company’s charitable mission as improving people’s lives through art. Over the last 20 years, the fairs have contributed £5 million in philanthropy supporting emerging artists, providing art education to help people fall in love with art and supporting its chosen charities, which use art to change lives. We have also raised £1 million for charities including those using art and expressive arts as a form of relaxation, mindfulness and a way to build resilience, as well as using art as a therapy to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well- being.
In our fast-paced city, mental health is a pressing but often unspoken health issue that can frequently go undetected and unsupported. The Affordable Art Fair chose to work with the local charity Joyful Mental Health Foundation to help raise awareness of the work it does to bring mental health into the open and support people in the community, as well as the Sovereign Art Foundation, with its expressive arts programmes to engage children with special needs and disadvantaged children in Hong Kong and the broader Asia.
@derekmilkwood, who is actually Australian artist, @vanessastockard, represented by @vanrensburggalleries – it’s the darker alter-ego and outlet for her darker moments of anxiety. @maria.svarbova, with her meticulous minimalist palette, by new American gallery @momentum_fine_art. @gabrielmorenoart, who does fine-art drawing and will be performing live on #ForArtsSake Friday, shown by family gallery @retrospect_galleries. @jody_artist, a street artist from the UK who will also be performing live on #ForArtsSake Friday with @britishartsalon. And of course @affordableartfairhk – also in New York, the UK, Stockholm, Milan, Hamburg, Singapore, Amsterdam and Brussels – which lets me discover new artists from around the world.
This feature originally appeared in the May 2018 print issue of #legend