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The art fair not to miss

The Contemporary Art Fairs Surrey boasts some brilliant artists and stunning pieces that will give your home character and don’t cost the earth.

We moved house five years ago. It was a proper doer upper – and we’ve finally (yes, finally) reached the end of our renovation journey. Thank god!

So now it’s time for the fun part. I have some art that was painted by my grandmother – but other than those few sentimental pieces most of my walls are still bare. Mr Muds and I have been talking about buying a piece of art to fill at least one of them.

There’s no doubt that buying prints and posters is fun (and affordable) — but I don’t know, maybe it’s an age thing, I’m becoming increasingly sold on the idea of saving up for a piece of one-of-a-kind art. Which is why I’m heading to the Contemporary Art Fairs Surrey at Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher on 15-17 March, where some brilliant artists (several of them local) will be exhibiting.

The event returns to Sandown after last year’s first ever super successful show bringing more than 160 exhibitors, including artists, printmakers, photographers, sculptors, ceramicists and independent galleries from all over the UK and Europe. This really is the perfect place to browse freely, chat to artists and pick up some affordable art – which is priced at between £40 and £4,000.

With so much art available in one space, you’re bound to find something – from traditional landscapes to avant garde sculpture, arresting photography and animal art, ceramics to exquisite decorative glass – I defy you not to go home with an original piece of something wonderful! Even if you have no serious intention of prising open your purse, it makes a great day out.

So that I don’t look entirely clueless when I rock up, I’ve been swotting up on the artists who will be showcasing their work this year. Here are five who caught my eye:

A Heart of Glass

In case you hadn’t heard, glass is the new painting, so if you’re looking for a showstopping centrepiece it’s definitely something you should consider. A Heart of Glass specialise in sourcing contemporary art glass, and seek out the most artistic and inspired glass designs by artists worldwide, including America, Sweden, Mexico, Poland and of course, Britain. Artists include Jonathan Rogers, Fay Miller, Mats Jonasson and Bob Crooks who is one of Britain’s most highly recognised glassmakers (pictured above is his Mosaic Bowl). Established in 2004 they only showcase the very best in this skilled craft and some of the pieces I’ve seen are absolutely stunning – I hadn’t realised how far glass design had come until I browsed their website.

Arts Findlay

All is not what it seems in the work of artist Kate Findlay. This striking piece – called White Beeches –  looks like it might be a watercolour painting, but it’s made entirely out of textiles. It is a view of beech trees at Sulham woods near Pangbourne in Berkshire, and is made from hand-dyed fabrics collaged using a raw edge applique technique. As you might have guessed, Kate’s work is inspired by the countryside and wildlife.

Emma Champion

Something completely different from Emma Champion, who creates these unusual prints in the darkroom. Having worked in the photography industry for more than 20 years providing a specialist hand-printing services, Emma’s work consists of cameraless images (photographs and luminograms) and mixed media abstracts inspired by the interplay between light and shadow. These silver gelatin luminogram prints with 24ct gold leaf (above left and above right) are striking and unusual, and would make a great conversation piece. And Cease to Resist (in the centre) is part of a series of digitally merged elements of photograms and luminograms called Dream Sequence. High tech. And beautiful.

Catherine Warren

This is the work of Catherine Warren – voted Surrey Artist of the Year 2018. Her work, primarily acrylic and mixed media on canvas, is abstract in style but inspired from the landscape and nature especially from the areas around her Surrey home near Farnham as well as the Devon and Cornwall coast. Her work has a wonderful feeling of peace –  I seem to take a long calming out-breath as I look at it.

Martin Turner

Simple, traditional and beautiful – the work of Martin Turner embodies the simplicity of fine art. Using pencil, his drawings are realistic with a level of detail that is breathtaking. And even more astonishing is that Turner only picked up his pencils a few years ago, for the first time since his childhood. And, he’s completely self taught. There’s hope for me and my dreams of creativity yet!

I hope that gives you a tiny taster of what you can expect. A piece of unique artwork would certainly bring richness and personality to my otherwise factory-made-furniture filled home. I for one am throwing out the framed prints – no more characterless walls for me. Whether you’re an art beginner or an art collector, you’ll be pleased to hear that the Contemporary Art Fair Surrey has been described as: ‘…the friendliest, most relaxed and welcoming art fair’, in other words, the perfect opportunity for newbies to dip their toe in, and for the more knowledgeable of you out there to immediately feel right at home.

The Contemporary Art Fair is at Sandown Park Racecourse, Portsmouth Rd, Esher, Surrey KT10 9AJ from Fri 15 – Sun 17 March.

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