Words by Bethany Woolfall, Otomys Contemporary London Art Consultant.
After relocating to London in December, my usual schedule and routine has been topped on its head. This city paces on a different frequency to what I am originally used to. In no way am I saying I have mastered the Tube, the afternoons turning into night at 4pm, the differences in our typical colloquial slang or the idea of vinegar on hot chips, but I have quickly become familiar with a select corner of the art scene in this loud and nocturnal city. London boasts a colourful scene of emerging, independent and grand scale public galleries, each housing varied art forms and mediums to engage and delight the public. My role here, where every day is different to the last, gives me freedom and agency to roam and explore. Visiting galleries here is now both for business and pleasure.
This week welcomed the annual London Art Fair, residing in the ever cool area of Angel in East London. The fair itself aims to connect the best galleries from around the world with both seasoned and aspiring collectors, providing a unique opportunity to discover and champion a range of outstanding modern and contemporary art. Hosting this year 130 differing galleries each offered a diverse range of art from painting, photography, sculpture and print. Pieces by living artists Grayson Perry, David Hockney and Banksy adored the walls which were further escorted by the likes of Joan Miro, Anthony Caro, Salvador Dali and Henry Moore. What separates the fair this year apart from others, is its heavy focus on prints with new work and releases from David Shrigley, the Chapman Brothers and Lucien Freud. Whilst celebrating its big 3-0, the art fair, alongside the plethora of paintings, photography and more, hosted a colourful and extensive discussion series. The range in topics under scrutiny were diverse and set the tone for a thought-provoking and engaging event, that extended past the cubical walls of each gallery stand. Topics as such ranged from the digital archiving of artwork, gender and cultural identity within contemporary art and the relationship between feminism, its history within art and weaving were some of the hot topics, each supported by leading artists, curators and academics.
As I idled around, armed with my mornings Long Black in hand, it struck me to see such a mass of fantastic art right in-front of me. Coming from our not so little island home, Australia’s art fairs are still a short while off the big guys a run for their money. Personally, I was very enticed by the sub-fair, Photo 50, that runs along side the main attraction. This years edition, curated by Hemera Collective, was themed around the title ‘Resolution’. Strikingly so, I was impressed at the adaptation of the term ‘resolution’ by both the curatorial team, and that of the participating galleries. The Hemera Collective think of photography as a lease through which to explore the relationship between image and media, across disciples and materials. With this in mind, some of the art appeared seperate from what we conventionally know to be photography. The works pushed the boundaries of a clear image, and acted therefore as windows and vessels into a snapshot of spectatorship.
The hours spent meandering through the isles of the fair surprisingly made me miss home, if only for a brief moment. The fair was grand, and whole heartedly wonderful, but it also made me realise how vast the art world can be, and this here was only one tiny slither. As the fair comes to a close, each weekend in London from now on boasts another event around art, design and culture. For now though, it is my never ending task of trying to see how much I really can squeeze in within the 168hours I have of each week.