TCH at Talented Art Fair 2017
It’s Friday night, and I’m on my way to the inaugural edition of Talented Art Fair.
As I enter the Old Truman Brewery, the atmosphere is bustling with artists and art enthusiasts alike.
In each direction, the walls are covered with colour and life.
Each of the 98 artists present has a special gift, and tonight, they come together to give us a glimpse of their passion and talent.
I am eager to start perusing the aisles, but first take a look at the brochure. I can already tell by the vibe that this is a chance to experience art in a different way. It is an opportunity to discover local and international contemporary artists in a friendly, serene environment. The variety of styles and genres means that at some point during the evening we will most certainly all find something we might like to own. That’s the wonderful thing about this showcase: it is a place where owing a piece of art is a very real possibility, as the aim of the fair is to offer its public affordable art!
I begin my walkabout and find myself smiling at canvases of foxes and rabbits, leaning in closer to see playing cards come to life with the king handing the queen his ‘heart’ and marvelling at detailed porcelain sculptures of horses.
I momentarily pause as supporter and collaborator J.A Neto introduces me to founders Leah Michelle and Oliver Norris (Lemon Art). Successful organisers of numerous art fairs and exhibitions, the couple and their team have worked hard to put artists in direct contact with London’s general buying public.
As I make my way through the open space, a comic book sculpture captures my eye, and that’s how I meet artist Robert Robinson. He explains that each piece is configured with the characters from the book itself.
“I’ve always been a comic book fan […] I rearrange the images in the books, but they’re all the original artwork. All this reconfiguring is done with a scalpel blade, so there’s no added colouring or anything at all. My thing is that I like to make it topic related, like the Spiderman piece.”
Of course, personally, I was excited about the ‘DC Heroines’ piece:
“This was one of the hardest ones to make because even though the book has female characters, I didn’t want to have any of them portrayed as a victim […], I wanted them all to look powerful and have full imagery without a sexual subcontext.”
“It’s a really old idea, animal-human hybrids. Maybe gods, goddesses in animal form. I just thought I’d do them in a contemporary style. If I was going to be a god that came back to the earth, I’d kind of want to be cool.”
We have a laugh as I try to figure out which animal represents us best. Paul identifies with the stag while I have a penchant for the cool cat wearing jeans and handbag.
“They’re humorous and light-hearted but they’ve got depth to them as well. What would you do if you were a human hybrid and living in today’s contemporary society as an animal hybrid?”
I make a stop at the bar and swap my blue token for a glass of Prosecco before being introduced to Blandine Martin, a mixed media artist from France. Blandine studied design and architecture and has lived in the UK most of her life. She shows me a piece she has recently been working on made of recycled newspapers. The colours and movements are rich and her vision for this piece is most interesting as she explains:
“This painting really works on two levels visually. When you step back, all you see are colours and movement because of the nature of the paper. It sort of embodies the idea that we are all one. We are one energy. But when you look closer, words start to appear. That’s when you see the differences: the languages, the cultural difference between us. But at the end of the day, the truth is, we’re just one energy moving forward. I wanted it to be neither positive nor negative. It is what it is ”
Further along, I meet maths enthusiast and creator of the Paperfolds series, Tony Blackmore. His work is a mix of drawn lines on a flat surface, which produce images and reliefs when folded. He kindly takes a moment to discuss his ‘Fibonacci Fold’ pieces:
“The Fibonacci series formulates the perfect curb. It’s like the ideal proportion.
I wanted to see what kind of shape would arise if I made an underlying grid based on the Fibonacci numbers. Sometimes, with my other work, I know what shape is going to arise out of it, but I didn’t know with these. And so you kind of get this perfect undulating form.”
“All my drawings are very geometric. Initially, when I studied maths, physics and art it was to become an architect. Instead, I have become an artist making architectural work.”
As I make my way back toward the entrance, I walk past Hannah Wehbeh’s captivating blue seascapes. An interior designer specialising in high-end residential and commercial properties, her oil paintings are inspired by the North West of England:
“I’ve been painting since I was about 14 or 15. I stopped for a while when I was working full time, then started again about 4 years ago, painting and exhibiting. It’s my form of escape.”
“I went to art school and have always been captivated by the changing light and colour of landscape and seas. I love the sense of space and the power that you get from nature. This one in particular (Heavy autumn tide II) is all about the tide, the power that you see in the water and I just wanted to try and captivate that in the painting. I wanted to convey that sort of energy.”
The flickering lights at 9pm signal the evening is coming to a close. I see many people with a look on their faces similar to mine. I’m sure we are all thinking the same thing : the evening went by too fast !
But not to worry, the doors will be open all weekend for art lovers and for the curious passer-by.
Founder Oliver Norris is happy with tonight’s outcome: “I’m really pleased. […] it was full of good quality people, proper buyers. All of the people who have bought art from us for the past six or seven years where invited tonight. […]
[…] we’ve made a lot of sales, some people go away and have a think about it, then come back over Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes these can be big purchases, so they like to discuss it with their partners.”
I’m not an art expert, but as a writer I can understand the feeling an artist experiences when a piece moves an audience. Tonight, the artists have succeded in doing just that. It was not only fascinating to be surrounded by such talent, but to witness so many people soaking it in.
Article and illustration by: Dominique Marchi