Interview: Anthony Wardle of Fresh: Art Fair
Fresh: Art Fair comes to the Midlands this spring showcasing nearly 5,000 works of contemporary art by over 400 painters and sculptors from 45 of Britain’s best galleries. We talk to co-founder Anthony Wardle about this exciting new event at Cheltenham Racecourse.
So, first of all, what is an art fair?
Quite simply, it’s a place to see and buy art, a large exhibition of paintings and sculptures where all the work is for sale. Some
fairs are for artists to sell their work direct to the public, but the bigger fairs are for Galleries that have the great advantage
of expertise. Galleries know their markets so clients can ask questions and buy with confidence. People can spend hours,
even days, traipsing round their local art galleries, so a fair is a quick and easy way to see large numbers of them in a couple of very pleasant hours.
You call it a new kind of art fair, what’s new?
Well, quite a lot. Most important is that Fresh: is the first major contemporary art fair in the Heart of England. There are no
serious fairs between London and Manchester, and amazingly, nothing serving Britain’s second city, Birmingham.
In another first, we’ve formed a partnership with International Fine Art Auctioneer Bonhams. Most people have a couple of
old paintings they’d like to sell but many don’t know how to go about it. Visitors to Fresh: can bring up to three old paintings
or sculptures, early 20th century or earlier and get a free valuation by Bonhams experts. They can make room for new contemporary art and in the spirit of the Antiques Road Show, may discover a treasure in the attic.
Why choose Cheltenham Race Course to host the fair?
Cheltenham lies at the centre of a population hub. There are ten county towns and cities with 5.4 million people within
an easy drive. Half a million people flock to Cheltenham’s Literature, Music and Racing Festivals each year. We thought it
was about time there was an art fair.
Most art fairs are in city centres so it’s either public transport or parking problems. Cheltenham’s world famous Racecourse is a fantastic venue less than ten minutes off the M5, easy to get to from Birmingham and Solihull and with unlimited free parking. And before you ask, there’s no racing.
Cheltenham is well worth a visit in its own right. It’s a splendid Regency town with fabulous independent shops, bars and
restaurants. Because the Park & Ride is at the Racecourse, visitors to Fresh: can leave their cars all day, free of charge and
take the bus for the five minute journey to and from the town centre. So people can make a day of it.
Who is Fresh: Art Fair for?
Fresh: is for everyone, for all tastes and budgets. It’s for people who buy art to live with and to give lasting pleasure. It’s
for people who collect art for the love of it, with a discerning eye for an asset.
And it’s for people who may be new to art who can sometimes find visiting galleries a little intimidating or who simply lack the time to drive around half a dozen of them when they can visit Fresh: and see 45 in a couple of hours.”
What can visitors expect?
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 established and celebrated such as Sir Peter Blake, Gerald Laing and Sophie Ryder, as well as quite a lot
of emerging talent from all over the world. Prices will range widely from as little as £200 to £20,000.
We’ll host some of Britain’s best galleries and some that are less well known, but all of them showing high quality art from the traditional to the avant garde. Frequent fair visitors will see fresh faces. New visitors can expect a fascinating experience, a warm welcome and a relaxed way to see and buy art.
Fresh: Art Fair is in partnership with the Royal Academy in the West and The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. Fresh: will be at Cheltenham Racecourse from 12th – 14th May. Visit Freshartfair.net