Search
  • Petra Richards

Fresh Art Fair Cheltenham

Today I visited the Fresh: Art Fair at Cheltenham racecourse. It was a first major social event I have attended since the pandemic started, and amongst many things, it was refreshing to able to see people’s smiles and facial reactions. I found it particularly striking how much I had missed the interaction. What was even more evident was impact it had on my two-year-old son. People were engaging with him and paying him attention, something he had had no, or at least very little, experience of before. It was lovely to see him reacting back. He found the whole atmosphere electrifying and he enjoyed himself socially very much!


I am always a keen exhibition and art fair visitor. However, this time my agenda was different, in that my focus was on research as well as admiring the talent (and shopping for a new addition to my collection!). A year ago I decided to follow my dream and become a full-time professional artist, not an easy decision to make during the pandemic. However, sometimes you just need to take the dive believing that you will swim up into a blue lagoon!


I was specifically looking at where demand lay, pricing, framing and how the galleries choose their artists. There were over 600 UK artists whose art was exhibited, and over 6,000 pieces of art represented by 43 galleries. Whilst there was work exhibited by “big names” such as Picasso, Bansky, Hockney and Hirst, I was keen to explore more affordable art and, perhaps more related to my field, realistic portraiture.


To my surprise, there was not that much realistic art on display. Whilst I was admiring the work of the wonderfully talented Shen Ming Cun, I had an interesting conversation with the guys from No Naked Walls Gallery in Guilford about realistic portraiture and how commercial it is. This stems from me thinking of late as to how to commercialise my art considering that it is very personalised and limited in terms of exposure.


One of the things I have agreed upon with Darren from the Park Gallery in Cheltenham was that when a portrait is culturized, it detaches itself from the personal attachment we feel we have when we see a portrait of a child or a dog. It is perhaps the main reason why we do not buy a random painting of, say, a baby girl or a pair of spaniels, when we have no connection with the subjects. It almost feels a wrong to have a picture of someone else’s child hanging on the wall! However, if one adds a distinctive cultural streak to the portrait, then it is a different story. By putting a little girl dressed in a traditional Chinese costume in a traditional setting, you suddenly have a painting full of history, culture and tradition. It puts a spin on an ordinary portrait which is ultimately still a little girl painted by someone. This was quite an eye opening realisation, and it has definitely started to make me think out of the box.


Another thing I was interested was how many people left the exhibition with paintings in their hands!


From a financial and business perspective, I would like to exhibit my art at places where there is a high sale rate and demand. It was encouraging to see many people buying not just one but two or more art pieces at the time! As I said, my main focus was not on shopping (much to my husband’s delight) but to conduct research with my business cap on. However, I managed to achieve both!

I came across some lovely sculptures, paintings and glass art, but nothing quite grabbed me enough. There were few “maybes” and I keep looking at the photos I took thinking that I would possibly buy them if I come across them again. Then I came across Katy’s (@carbonpainart) depictions of racing drivers painted in resin on carbon fibre in a very clever and striking way. We went to have some lunch in the upstairs café after we had finished our initial tour of the exhibition. I suggested to my husband and 11-year-old son that we should have a quick tour to each pick out the three pieces each we liked the most. All three of us declared that we liked the racing art the most and my birthday present was purchased! To our surprise Katy just happened to be there so we got to meet her. We were able to get to know her and her art, which was wonderful.


The whole experience was inspiring, uplifting, and encouraging. I left with many ideas for projects and ideas how to lead my art and business into a new direction. I also opened up the possibility of partnering up with one of the Cheltenham Galleries. Most of all though, it gave me a huge confidence boost, and made me realise the quality of my own art, which has fuelled me with desire and determination, and given me a clearer view of where to go next!


8th August 2021 at Fresh: Art Fair, Cheltenham Racecourse Today I visited the Fresh: Art Fair at Cheltenham racecourse. It was a first major social event I have attended since the pandemic started, and amongst many things, it was refreshing to able to see people’s smiles and facial reactions. I found it particularly striking how much I had missed the interaction. What was even more evident was impact it had on my two-year-old son. People were engaging with him and paying him attention, something he had had no, or at least very little, experience of before. It was lovely to see him reacting back. He found the whole atmosphere electrifying and he enjoyed himself socially very much!


I am always a keen exhibition and art fair visitor. However, this time my agenda was different, in that my focus was on research as well as admiring the talent (and shopping for a new addition to my collection!). A year ago I decided to follow my dream and become a full-time professional artist, not an easy decision to make during the pandemic. However, sometimes you just need to take the dive believing that you will swim up into a blue lagoon!


I was specifically looking at where demand lay, pricing, framing and how the galleries choose their artists. There were over 600 UK artists whose art was exhibited, and over 6,000 pieces of art represented by 43 galleries. Whilst there was work exhibited by “big names” such as Picasso, Bansky, Hockney and Hirst, I was keen to explore more affordable art and, perhaps more related to my field, realistic portraiture.


To my surprise, there was not that much realistic art on display. Whilst I was admiring the work of the wonderfully talented (insert name), I had an interesting conversation with (insert name) from (insert name) Gallery about realistic portraiture and how commercial it is. This stems from me thinking of late as to how to commercialise my art considering that it is very personalised and limited in terms of exposure.


One of the things I have agreed upon with Darren from (insert name) Gallery was that when a portrait is culturized, it detaches itself from the personal attachment we feel we have when we see a portrait of a child or a dog. It is perhaps the main reason why we do not buy a random painting of, say, a baby girl or a pair of spaniels, when we have no connection with the subjects. It almost feels a wrong to have a picture of someone else’s child hanging on the wall! However, if one adds a distinctive cultural streak to the portrait, then it is a different story. By putting a little girl dressed in a traditional Chinese costume in a traditional setting, you suddenly have a painting full of history, culture and tradition. It puts a spin on an ordinary portrait which is ultimately still a little girl painted by someone. This was quite an eye opening realisation, and it has definitely started to make me think out of the box.


Another thing I was interested was how many people left the exhibition with paintings in their hands!


From a financial and business perspective, I would like to exhibit my art at places where there is a high sale rate and demand. It was encouraging to see many people buying not just one but two or more art pieces at the time! As I said, my main focus was not on shopping (much to my husband’s delight) but to conduct research with my business cap on. However, I managed to achieve both!

I came across some lovely sculptures, paintings and glass art, but nothing quite grabbed me enough. There were few “maybes” and I keep looking at the photos I took thinking that I would possibly buy them if I come across them again. Then I came across Katy’s (@carbonpainart) depictions of racing drivers painted in resin on carbon fibre in a very clever and striking way. We went to have some lunch in the upstairs café after we had finished our initial tour of the exhibition. I suggested to my husband and 11-year-old son that we should have a quick tour to each pick out the three pieces each we liked the most. All three of us declared that we liked the racing art the most and my birthday present was purchased! To our surprise Katy just happened to be there so we got to meet her. We were able to get to know her and her art, which was wonderful.


The whole experience was inspiring, uplifting, and encouraging. I left with many ideas for projects and ideas how to lead my art and business into a new direction. I also opened up the possibility of partnering up with one of the Cheltenham Galleries. Most of all though, it gave me a huge confidence boost, and made me realise the quality of my own art, which has fuelled me with desire and determination, and given me a clearer view of where to go next!





42 views0 comments