London Art Fair 2019 Review

London Art Fair 2019 Review

A view from above just one corner of the maze of gallery stands at the Art Fair 2019

A view from above just one corner of the maze of gallery stands at the Art Fair 2019

The London Art Fair is back and it’s better than ever. Now in its 31st year, this five-day takeover is one of the capital’s biggest showcases of the contemporary art scene. Far from embodying the modern cliché of obscure pieces that make most shout ‘but my child could have done that!’ there was a stunning array of incredible pieces from 130 of the world’s best galleries that show the skill and imagination of global artists is absolutely alive and kicking. 

Peter Seal’s abstract, geometric paintings are captivating and offer studies of graduated colour that make his works seem effortless yet highly crafted

Peter Seal’s abstract, geometric paintings are captivating and offer studies of graduated colour that make his works seem effortless yet highly crafted

Each stand was looked after by a mix of curators, gallery directors and art dealers so there was potential for networking as well as being inspired. This made for some interesting overhearing too, the hosts definitely knew their stuff and conversations between the steady mix of browsers and buyers gave the inside scoop on ones to watch. 

Works from the hugely famous Van Ray were on show, offering poppy plays on advertising and iconic figures to bring urban art into the gallery

Works from the hugely famous Van Ray were on show, offering poppy plays on advertising and iconic figures to bring urban art into the gallery

The Art Fair has a reputation for a reason, heading inside the Business Design Centre in Angel is like taking on over one-hundred of the year’s best exhibitions under one roof, with talks, tours and events thrown in for good measure. It’s a mammoth show and could easily be overwhelming. Luckily, I was passed a handy guide on the way in with a pull-out map directing me around the three floors of artworks, soI had the choice to be discerning or wander for hours – it could take all day to see even half of what’s on offer. 

Dionisio Gonzalez’s digitally manipulated, hyper-realistic photos of impossible architecture feel like a window into the future.

Dionisio Gonzalez’s digitally manipulated, hyper-realistic photos of impossible architecture feel like a window into the future.

The first thing I noticed was the range of styles: sculpture, painting, installation, ceramics, outlandish and rebellious junk art pitched up alongside ethereal photography and technicolour paintings. The world focus enhanced this even further, the Art Fair organisers have long since branched away from British and European art and put whole continents in conversation, providing a pretty comprehensive overview of today’s art world for novices and the knowledgeable alike. 

Alison Lambert’s intense, large-scale charcoal artworks convey movement and detail like an old master. The way the reflections of the Business Design Centre interplay with the frame adds an extra layer.

Alison Lambert’s intense, large-scale charcoal artworks convey movement and detail like an old master. The way the reflections of the Business Design Centre interplay with the frame adds an extra layer.

When I wanted to escape the crowds, I was struck by the only downside of the show. There was a distinct lack of places to dwell. With so many great pieces jostling for attention, and hoards passing through the stands, the couple of unassuming cafes tucked away from the hustle and bustle just didn’t cut it. They were few in number and didn’t match up to the grandeur of the surrounding exhibitions. This got me thinking about what I really love about the gallery experience: the opportunity for reflection. There were paintings and prints of every persuasion and at times I really just wanted to hone in on the beauty, meaning and skill of the works. Unfortunately, with the competition for space between displays, visitors, organisers (and camera phones!), I didn’t have much chance to linger. 

Despite this, the buzz of the atmosphere had its own charms and I left energized and armed with a list of galleries and artists to go back to throughout the year when I really have the chance to get acquainted with them.

It’s an unmissable event in the cultural calendar and I’m already looking forward to next year! 

Louis Quail’s totally candid photography of family dynamics echoes his documentary background, bringing viewers into the action of his Big Brother series.    (Image courtesy of louisquail.com)

Louis Quail’s totally candid photography of family dynamics echoes his documentary background, bringing viewers into the action of his Big Brother series.

(Image courtesy of louisquail.com)



















Why I find St. Paul's Cathedral so Inspirational

If you are ever feeling down and need some inspiration, think about the resilience ofSt.Paul's Cathedral....that building has been through a lot!

On first appearances it seems peaceful, timeless, like it has always been there. 
But nothing could be further from the truth.

....Here goes a very short history of the turbulent life of London's most treasured building....

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It began as a place of worship circa 604. It's pretty old.
In 1087, under William the Conquerer and as a Catholic Cathedral, a fire destroyed the new construction work. Another fire in 1135 delayed it again.
But like a Phoenix it rose from its ashes and by the 14th Century it had the longest nave and tallest spires in the known world.

After the Protestant Reformation, that began in 1517, the nave aisle became a place of doing business, socialising & horse trading.
In St. Paul's church yard in 1549 radical Protestant preachers incited a mob to destroy many of the cathedral's interior decorations.

In 1561 another fire was hot enough to melt the cathedral's bells and the lead covering the wooden spire "poured down like lava upon the roof", destroying it.
(Rumour had it that a plumber had "confessed on his death bed" that he had "left a pan of coals and other fuel in the tower when he went to dinner." Other records dispute this.)

In 1621, King James I appointed Inigo Jones to restore the building. 
Work stopped during the English Civil War between 1642-1651, during which the nave was used as a stable for cavalry horses.
A rumour of the time suggested that Cromwell had considered giving the building to London's returning Jewish community to become a synagogue.

The building was now in great disrepair. King Charles, 1630-85, commissioned Sir. Christoper Wren, to restore the Gothic style of Inigo Jones design of 1630.

Wren saw the building was in such a bad state and felt re-building was the best option.
This was objected to by locals and the clergy alike.
His uncle was bishop of Ely and suggested copying the dome of Ely Cathedral over the exiting cathedral, using scaffolding to support its construction and then dismantling the older cathedral below. 
This was to ease the emotional shock that the demolition of a known landmark would cause to locals (Londonners, also known as "non-believers" at the time) and hence any opposition.
Then, in 1666, the Great Fire of London raged, and aided by this timber scaffolding, incinerated the whole construction.

A new building was the only possible outcome after this fire.

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With molten lead having fused stonework together, gunpowder was necessary to clear the site. And then a battering ram.

It had to be blown to pieces to create the beautiful serene Neo Classical Protestant Cathedral we know and love.

Today protected sight-lines exist in London to protect the view of St. Paul's tower from various places around  and outside of London. For example, the view from King Henry's mound forces all new buildings to lean back out of the way, like Richard Rogers firm RSHP's Leadenhall or commonly known, Cheesegrater Skyscraper.

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It's been through a lot! So, if you are ever feeling down, burnt out, beaten up and blown to pieces, consider St. Paul's, and realise the best is yet to come.

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