Cart before the Horse at The Other Art Fair 2015, By James Brewer
It was as though royalty was taking a bow at the latest edition of the up-and-coming show The Other Art Fair, staged for the first time in the prime London location of Victoria House, Bloomsbury.
Her Majesty the Queen featured in tongue-in-cheek portraits created by Orson Kartt , a British artist whose work is imbued with his quirky sense of humour.
The Suffolk-based artist uses pages from antique editions of Shakespeare’s plays in his montages of established personalities and stereotypes. This time, his portraits entitled Rule Britannia and God Save Me of the Queen were set against pages from the Merry Wives of Windsor.
Orson Kartt has produced similar work with personal images imposed on backgrounds of vintage stamps, ceramics and even pages from a huge, century-old family bible. His LinkedIn statement is: “When words fail me, as sometimes they do, I make art.”
Mr Kartt was one of 130 artists from 14 countries who flocked to the eighth edition of the Fair from April 23-26 2015.
The show puts the cart before the horse by making a priority of artists over established commercial interests and galleries, although a good many of the artists do have representation contracts or links with a gallery.
A committee including Gavin Turk, Dr Stephanie Buck, and Mary Rozell selected artists from more than 700 applicants to take stands.
Since 2011, founder Ryan Stanier – whose career has included stints with O2, Sky, Virgin Atlantic and London Fashion Week, has developed The Other Art Fair as a means for unrepresented artists to sell work directly to the public and gain exposure to the commercial sector. He began to support emerging artists five years ago: “It seemed nonsensical that, as a city [London was] producing some of the most exciting creative minds, and yet it was becoming more and more difficult for them to gain recognition.”
His events are meant to be a lively platform for conversation and collaboration, enabling artists to meet, discuss and compare their practice. For many artists who work in solo studios it is a valuable opportunity to share observations and ideas.
With the fair continuing to grow over the years – organisers say it is now the UK’s leading artist fair – the latest event was staged over 22, 000 sq ft at Victoria House, which was opened in 1926 for its original occupant, Liverpool Friendly Society, on land purchased from the Duke of Bedford. When completed in 1932 it was the largest office block in Britain, apart from Whitehall.
Two new versions of The Other Art Fair – featuring “the rising art stars of tomorrow” – are planned for Bristol on June 5-7 and Sydney from September 10-13 2015; while in October the Fair goes back to London at its autumn venue, the Old Truman Brewery, Spitalfields.