Art & Wellbeing at the Battersea Affordable Art Fair

Including galleries from the UK, Denmark, and Australia, just to name a few, this season’s Battersea Affordable Art Fair brought talent from all over the world, showcasing diverse artistic styles, no matter what kind of artwork you were looking for. If you were searching to find a stunning still-life painting, you could find the bright magenta fruit bowl of artist Frans Mora at Strange Tracey Gallery. If you are in the mood for something more abstract, Four-Walls Contemporary exhibited the expressive paintings of Becky Blair. For photography lovers, Cynthia Corbett Gallery showed the grand and dystopian interiors of photographer Fabiano Parisi. Three-dimensional work could be found throughout the fair, a highlight being the organic, white and gold ceramic work of artist Mo Cornelisse at Galerie NUMMER40. Everywhere you looked you could find an art piece, installation, or activity filling the space. As part of the fair’s Platform Projects initiative, artist Sally Buchanan’s The Anthropocene Installation used embroidery, tapestry, and mirrors to create a dynamic piece that draws our attention to the damaging hand we have had in the current state of the environment. 

There was an impressive amount of interactive art activities at the fair available for both children and adults, generating an inclusivity that could be felt by visitors. Printmaking workshops were happening throughout the day, which included drypoint and monoprinting methods. At the Creative Studio space, children, along with their parents, gathered to learn how to make origami. Having so many different participatory activities not only created a welcoming atmosphere, but provided an important opportunity for the visitors to engage directly with their own creativity while being surrounded by so many inspiring artworks. This year’s theme focused on art and wellbeing, with a range of talks and activities during the fair that demonstrated the value of having art and expression as part of our everyday lives. 

We asked Affordable Art Fair Director Sam Gare about the unique aspects of the art fair and how it promotes the importance of bringing art into your life. 

How did the Affordable Art Fair first get started, and what was the intention behind creating a fair that showcases artwork that a wider audience can purchase?

The Founder of the Affordable Art Fair, Will Ramsay, first entered the art world in 1996 when he launched his own gallery, Will’s Art Warehouse, with the aim of making art more accessible. He wanted to help people enjoy learning more about art and dispel elitist misconceptions around collecting art – you don’t have to be a millionaire or an expert, you just need to trust your own taste. 

From there, he found that there was a real gap in the market for a place where new and seasoned collectors could find affordable, accessible art from galleries throughout the UK, not just those on their doorstep. He was inspired to go further in his mission to democratise the art market and make affordable art available to more people, in an informal and laid-back setting, in what was to be his next venture… the Affordable Art Fair.  

This year’s theme focused on the benefits of art and creativity on wellbeing. How will this be represented in the fair?

This Spring we are celebrating the relationship between art and well-being, with a specially curated selection of tours and workshops.

The fair’s programme partner, City Lit, will be running interactive workshops exploring different art mediums and their links to wellbeing, including mindful photography and how to ‘reveal’ your inner artist through drawing on your own creativity. Paint Jam London, an incredible pop-up art studio, will be running creative meditation sessions and communal canvas painting workshops for families inspired by Jackson Pollock’s expressive style and Yayoi Kusama’s hypnotic spot paintings.

Why do you think art and wellbeing is needed in today’s world?

We’re all so caught up in the everyday anxiety of modern life, surrounding ourselves with artwork we love can really give us something to escape into. To make the most of your favourite pieces, take a moment out of your busy schedule to sit back and enjoy them without distractions. This will give you the opportunity to remind yourself of the positive emotions you felt when you first found the piece and soothe away negative thoughts.

The Affordable Art Fair includes artwork priced between £100-£6,000, allowing for more people to purchase art. Besides the price range of the artworks, what makes this fair different from the rest?

One thing that really sets the Affordable Art Fair apart is the variety of work on offer, as a global fair we bring together works by household names alongside up and coming artists from around the world. We’re particularly proud to offer a platform for artists at early stages of their careers, and give visitors the chance to see works by some exciting emerging talent. The fair also has a heritage of showing artists early in their careers who then go on to great success, with the likes of Chris Levine and Anthony Micallef both having shown at the fair in its early years.

The Spring edition of the fair will also see the return of our unique Platform Project’s initiative, a series of installations and interventions throughout the fair, which allow our visitors to experience pieces that don’t necessarily sit within a traditional fair format – it’s going to be exciting to see the response!

For those who or can’t make it down over the weekend, we also offer a completely holistic fair experience through our online platform at Hosting hundreds of pieces from exciting galleries from across the UK, those wishing to find the perfect piece can use the website to share images of works with their friends, make wish lists and follow their favourite galleries or artists as well as buy directly from the site.

What do you feel is the value of bringing artwork into your home?

Artwork has the potential to add something new or unexpected, so don’t feel like you have to choose a piece that matches an existing scheme exactly. A piece that complements the overall style of the room, or includes just a small amount of another prominent colour in the room, helps it to stand out and add personality.

In addition to the visual benefits of tying a room together and adding vibrancy and personality to your space, for a lot of people art makes a house a home. The benefits of living with art include reducing stress and engaging the creative parts of your brain. Research has also shown that when we look at art the parts of our brain associated with pleasure and reward are activated. Looking at artworks doesn’t simply make us feel calmer, but actually brings us joy!

An upcoming fair will be at Hampstead, which will be taking place between the 11th – 14th May and based on the theme of Art and Travel.