The Affordable Art Fair has been running since 1999, selling artwork from both established and up-and-coming artists. Operating around the world, from New York to Stockholm – and now back in Melbourne – the fair prides itself on offering accessible art priced between $100 and $12,000.
From September 5 to 8 at the Royal Exhibition Building, you’ll find thousands of original, contemporary artworks, with stalls representing over 50 galleries from all over the world (including Australia). There’s a range of works priced under $1000, and should you pick up a piece, the fair offers a free wrapping service.
Alongside art for any “space, taste and spend” there’s a Creative Hub where you can try your hand at mindful colouring, or take part in a “save or shred” activity, where you can destroy your creation Banksy-style. There’ll also be live body painting by Adelaide artist Emma Hack and a thought-catcher installation by The Gallery by Fenton & Fenton artist Jasmine Mansbridge.
Ahead of the fair, we’ve rounded up the galleries you should keep your eye on.
Will’s Art Warehouse
Will Ramsay founded the Affordable Art Fair in London’s Battersea Park back in October 1999, after opening the bricks-and-mortar store Will’s Art Warehouse in 1996. The gallery focuses on works priced from £50 to £2000 by 150 “relatively unknown” artists. Will’s pared down approach to both the gallery and the art fair was a welcome change to the scene. It leveraged a growing hunger for art at a lower pricepoint and broadened the scope of who could consider themselves a collector.
The Gallery by Fenton & Fenton
Melbourne interior-design store Fenton & Fenton presents The Gallery by Fenton & Fenton. The store is synonymous with vibrant pops of colour, and the artists in its stable have created eye-catching pieces – using everything from geometric angles to collaged landscapes and bright botanicals. Along with the aforementioned Jasmine Mansbridge installation is Ballarat artist Anna Placidi’s textured garden paintings and Geelong-based self-taught painter Melanie Macilwain’s very reasonably priced Central Lands pieces. It’s an all-Australian cast.
Asian Art Platform
With galleries in Singapore and China, Asian Art Platform represents talent from both countries, with pieces that take a magnifying glass to popular culture. Tao Xian’s glitch paintings are a reflection on both digital technology and metropolitan lifestyles, informed by her time in the fast-paced cities of New York and Beijing. Zhang Yong’s Love Me II, a canine sculpture covered in 18-carat-gold spikes (going for a cool $9000, if you’re interested), is part of a series examining materialism. And Luo Dan’s Balance sculpture series features plump, gravity-defying performers.
All the way from Santa Monica, California, Axiom Contemporary specialises in pop, abstract and neo-street art from artists across all mediums. Notable among them is Venice Beach-based artist Jay Kelly’s figurative collages that play with conventional notions of beauty, juxtaposing a classic aesthetic with elements of contemporary urban life.
With a collection spanning Archibald Prize finalists to $100 original works, Bluethumb holds a lot of power in the Australian art scene. With one of the largest marketplaces in Australia (if not the largest), Bluethumb goes against the grain of the art world. Last year, in a PR-stunt designed to demonstrate that buying art should be as easy as grocery shopping, the company set up a gallery in the fresh-produce section of the IGA supermarket around the corner from the Melbourne Art Fair.
The Affordable Art Fair is on from Thursday September 5 to Sunday September 8. Broadsheet readers can receive a half-price General Entry ticket (usually $25) by following this link.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Affordable Art Fair.