In a warehouse by the train tracks in Kensington, 98 artists are not only showing but spruiking their wares as well. This is The Other Art Fair, a market devoted to emerging artists that began in London, and which has already had two successful runs in Sydney.
For art collectors, fairs like this are a chance to discover and possibly invest in the next big thing. For the rest of us, it’s a chance to see a lot of art in one place, and a rare chance to meet the artists that create it.
“Most artists don’t get to meet their public and see the instant reaction to looking at their work, and vice versa,” says the fair’s director Zoe Paulsen.
But it’s not just about selling your paintings. While some art fairs have a very highbrow, ivory tower-like feel to them, this is a dressed-down affair. There’s a bar in the corner, a St Ali coffee stall and Taiwanese street food from Ghost Kitchen. DJs fill the air with music. On Friday night, The Harpoons will be playing a set. Performance artists are roaming the space, including a man carrying a large fake boulder and reciting soliloquies, and a roaming a group of women who look like something from A Handmaid’s Tale.
The 98 featured artists were chosen by a panel of some of the country’s most respect artists, curators, patrons and gallerists, including artists Patricia Piccinini and Kathy Temin, and Annika Kristensen, a senior curator at ACCA – and they’ve selected a diverse bunch.
Expect abstract landscapes, documentary photography, sculpture, portraits, op art, pop art, Bowie, pretty dreamscapes and a toucan. The majority of the artists are unrepresented, which means they’re new voices, and their work is affordable.
This is the 17th Other Art Fair, but the first in Melbourne, after fairs in London, Bristol and Sydney, with a New York edition launching this year.
Paulsen says the fairs are all about breaking down barriers.
“A lot of people find it intimidating walking into a white-walled gallery, not knowing a thing about art,” she says. “We want to open it up, make it more accessible.”
The Other Art Fair runs at The Facility, Kensington, until May 7.