Fresh: Art Fair

Geese and Cherries, by Alan Halliday, oil on canvas, 114cmx146cm (Camburn Fine Art)

Geese and Cherries, by Alan Halliday, oil on canvas, 114cmx146cm (Camburn Fine Art) - Credit: Archant

A new, exciting art fair is coming to the Cotswolds, so naturally we wanted to find out more...

Sunflowers and Oranges, by Edward Noott RBSA, oil on canvas (John Noott Gallery)

Sunflowers and Oranges, by Edward Noott RBSA, oil on canvas (John Noott Gallery) - Credit: Archant

In this internet-driven age of shopping convenience, art fairs have become a popular way to see and buy art easily. A host of galleries in one accessible place makes browsing several thousand works of art a very efficient and exciting experience.

So it is perhaps surprising that a region as populous and rich in culture as the Cotswolds has hitherto lacked a dedicated contemporary art fair of any size. Now Fresh: Art Fair opens its doors for the first time at Cheltenham Racecourse from May 12 to 14 with 45 of Britain’s best galleries showing nearly 5,000 works by some 400 painters and sculptors. Candia McKormack talks to co-founder Anthony Wardle.

Is it just about convenience?

Not really, it’s as much about confidence. Buying art online can work well enough if you know what you want or you’re just filling a gap on a wall. But if you’re new to art or keen to broaden your horizons, or expand your collection then there’s no substitute for seeing art in-the-flesh.

No laptop or mobile device can adequately show the texture of a painting, the detail of brush stroke or palette knife, or the third dimension of a sculpture. No website can fully convey the often eccentric story that lies behind the artist and their work, or deliver the personal experience and expertise that gallery owners are able to share. Going to a fair can help you buy art with confidence …and it’s a lot more fun than browsing the web.

Cosmopolitans, by PJ Crook (Panter & Hall)

Cosmopolitans, by PJ Crook (Panter & Hall) - Credit: Archant

Why ‘Fresh’?

As well as filling a gap in the market, we set out to bring new ideas and fresh faces to the art fair world.

Most Read

Many of our exhibitors are indispensible participants at London and international art fairs and we’re honoured that they have joined us. But we have also looked for galleries that are new to fairs or have chosen not to exhibit widely. Regular art fair visitors will see galleries and artists at Fresh: that are seldom seen on the UK art fair circuit.

We have also actively sought partners that can bring something new to art fairs. For the first time in the art fair world, visitors, who come primarily to see and buy art, are invited to bring some of their old paintings or sculptures that they may wish to sell. In Partnership with fine art auctioneers Bonhams, experts will provide free on-the-spot valuations on up to three works.

Most people have a couple of old paintings they’d like to sell but many don’t know how to go about it. Our partnership with Bonhams will help Fresh: visitors make room for new art and, in the spirit of the Antiques Road Show, they may even discover a treasure in the attic.

Late Afternoon by the Lake, by Le Thanh Son, oil on canvas (Hanoi Art House)

Late Afternoon by the Lake, by Le Thanh Son, oil on canvas (Hanoi Art House) - Credit: Archant

Who is Fresh: for?

Fresh: is for everyone who loves art. We welcome newcomers, enthusiasts and established collectors of all tastes and budgets, helping them to understand the art they see, expand their horizons and discover new talent.

What can they expect?

A very broad spectrum of paintings and sculpture across all genres and media from the traditional to the avant garde. Most of the work will be original with some sculpture and original prints in limited editions. Most will be by living artists, some of them celebrated such as Sir Peter Blake RA, Sophie Ryder, Bridget Riley CH CBE, Peter Wileman FROI FRSA and PJ Crook MBE RWA FRSA. Many will be established artists in the ascendancy and yet more are the emerging talent of the future. Prices will range widely from a few hundred pounds to several thousand. There’ll be plenty of work for all tastes and budgets.

Cheltenham Racecourse is a wonderful venue for a major art fair… and before you ask, there’s no racing. Less than ten minutes off the M5 with unlimited free parking, it’s an easy drive from Oxford, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham and the many other county towns and cities surrounding the Cotswolds.

With the Park & Ride located at the racecourse, it’s easy for visitors to see the fair, leave their car at the racecourse and pop into town for some shopping. We expect many of our visitors will make a day or a weekend of it. Tickets are £6 and admit two if you buy online. Friday is free. There’s a charity private view on the Thursday evening supporting Fresh: Start for Homeless People and the Fresh: charity partner St Mungo’s. A limited number of tickets are available online.

Fresh: Art Fair is in partnership with The Royal Academy in the West of England, The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and Cheltenham’s Wilson Museum and Gallery.