Wouldn’t you though?
We moved house a few days ago (still no broadband, typing this from a café, feel my pain). Anyway, we have several bare walls and Mr Muddy Berkshire and I were discussing buying a piece of art to fill at least one of them. His parents bought him some original paintings when he first left home and at the time he barely owned a full set of cutlery so it seemed very extravagant. But of all the things he owns they’ve probably given him the most enjoyment over the years (ok, apart from maybe his golf clubs).
While on the surface of things art might seem like an indulgence, it’s actually one of life’s simplest pleasures. A celebration of life, of community, and it has existed since the dawn of time. I’d even go so far as to say that, for some, it fills a spiritual void.
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 Windsor Contemporary Art Fair in a couple of weeks, Sat 12 & Sun 13 November, where some brilliant artists (several of them local) will be exhibiting. Plus, the organisers are offering Muddy readers 2 for 1 on advance tickets (see details below) so why on earth wouldn’t you?
Now in its 12th year it really is the perfect place to browse freely, chat to artists and pick up some affordable art, anywhere between £40 and £4000. With over 150 exhibitors 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:
I’ll admit I’ve never been a huge fan of animal art, having seen way too many stiff and formal pets staring at me mournfully from people’s walls. But Catherine Ingleby may have just changed my mind with the life she seems to manage to breath into her paintings. Catherine paints ‘contemporary sporting art’, and is one of the leading sporting artists in the country. From the uncomplicated joy of a jumping dog to the more traditional works portraying race horses, I love that her main aim is to ‘lift the viewer’s heart a little’. And I think her exciting use of colour (rather than sticking faithfully to lifelike representation of colour) is what makes her work stand out.
Something completely different from this unconventional mother and daughter collaboration, Van Astor is the work of Mary-Ann Astor and Maddie Van Aitch who photograph carefully selected ubiquitous objects in such a way that they elevate them from an everyday ‘one of many’ to something unique and powerful. The artists’ aim is to remind the viewer that greatness lies within us all, and we could all do with a little reminder of that now and then! They are incredibly striking limited edition images, some very humorous, and they certainly make great conversation pieces.
Alice Sheridan paints these beautiful contemporary landscapes and I just seem to take a long calming out breath as I look at them. Far quicker therapy than an hour long yoga class to lose yourself in one of her paintings for a few minutes. Some are of a specific place, but more usually it’s a looser sense of the space she’s trying to create within a small scale. One of her standout techniques is to incorporate small drawn marks to contrast with the more gestural painted elements and I think they are so atmospheric, I love them.
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.
Ah, you think you know this picture – classic Roy Lichenstein you say – but you’d be wrong! It’s actually by an artist called David Hughes and is the classic image re-made entirely in LEGO bricks. David constructs LEGO mosaic artwork and sculptures of a wide variety of subjects. The artworks are fully glued, bonded to a timber backing-board, ready for hanging. From day of the dead skulls to a limited edition sculpture inspired by the 1972 book cover of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, he manages to elevate the humble LEGO brick into something stylish and sophisticated. I think they’re fun, different and very striking.
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 Windsor Contemporary Art Fair 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.
Best of all the organisers are offering Muddy readers 2 for 1 on tickets for either Saturday 12 or Sunday 13 November, just use the code: WCAF16MS241 when you book online. See you there!
The Windsor Contemporary Art Fair, Royal Windsor Racecourse, Maidenhead Road, Windsor SL4 5JJ. Saturday 12 November 10am to 6pm; Sunday 13 November 10am to 5pm. Advance tickets £7 per person book online now.