If you’re an art lover, chances are you’ve already got Cambridge Art Fair firmly penned in your diary. Taking place from 2 to 4 October, it’s the third outing for this buzzing boutique art fair, which is poised to once again bring a dazzling array of world-class traditional and contemporary fine art right to our doorstep.
The event takes place at the Guildhall – in the heart of the city centre – and offers a carefully curated selection of highly collectable work that ranges from pre-19th century traditional pieces to modern art from the 19th and 20th centuries, right the way through to artworks by some of today’s most highly regarded contemporary artists.
Both international and UK-based galleries will exhibit the work of hundreds of artists from across the globe, providing a rich diversity of top-quality artworks to view and buy. Visitors will be treated to pieces by leading British artists such as Sir Peter Blake, Henrietta Dubrey and Maggi Hambling, whose work will sit alongside that of modern masters including Picasso, Chagall, Dali and Miró.
Launched in 2013 by the St Ives-based Red Dot Events, Cambridge Art Fair was initially created to give Cambridge, a city so rich in cultural and artistic activity, the kind of good-quality art fair it deserved.
“Our event brings thousands of art collectors into the city centre from all over the region (and even London) and introduces them to the local galleries who participate, which benefits the local art industry greatly,” says festival co‑director Craig Kerrecoe.
“It’s important to remember that Cambridge Art Fair is an independent event run by a local company and the fair is filled with independent businesses who work incredibly hard for the artists that they represent.”
There will be plenty to explore, but what are the festival organisers themselves most looking forward to seeing at the fair?
“There are so many fantastic pieces of original art coming to the fair that it’s difficult to pick out a few,” says Craig. “We love the contemporary work that our exhibitors bring every year because it gives us a snapshot of what is happening in the art world outside of Cambridge. We know that there will be Damien Hirst and Banksy prints at the fair this year, and hopefully a Hockney or two!”
Elsewhere, you will find a great selection of original prints, including pieces by several of the Great Bardfield Artists; a community of acclaimed modernist artists that lived in the sleepy Essex village during the mid-20th century. The group put on large open house exhibitions during the period, which attracted national and international attention and drew in thousands of visitors. Often drawing comparisons to Cornwall’s St Ives School of artists, the work created by this talented collective is now the subject of an exhibition at Saffron Walden’s Fry Gallery.
With such a range on offer, whether you’re an avid collector or a complete novice looking to take your first foray into the world of art ownership, you’re in with a great shot at finding that dream piece. Works on sale will start under the £100 mark, but nonetheless if you are new to buying art, the idea of spending a significant amount of money on a piece can be a little daunting (what if it’s a dud? What if I hate it after a fortnight? etc), but help is on hand if you need a little advice.
“Don’t be afraid to talk to the exhibitors,” says Craig. “They are highly experienced gallerists and dealers who have spent years, decades even, developing their portfolios and looking after their artists,” he says. “We have a buying advice page on our website which is a good place to start, and the great thing about buying art at good-quality fairs like Cambridge Art Fair is that it is all pre-approved by the gallerists and dealers so you can be confident that the work is of a high standard and is collectable.”
If you’re worried about the cost being prohibitive, it’s worth knowing too that many of the Fair’s exhibitors participate in the Arts Council Own Art scheme, which allows you to pay for a piece in instalments, and some offer leasing packages for businesses too. Fundamentally, Cambridge Art Fair is geared towards being accessible, and suitable for art collectors of all levels.
“We always have a fantastic selection of high-quality original art and prints which appeals to confident, seasoned collectors who know what they are looking for. But the great thing about our event is that the halls are filled with experienced dealers and gallerists who can help and advise those attendees who are just starting their collection or are looking for one special piece for their home or office. I think we all have the capacity or desire to be art collectors and we are proud that so many new collectors have chosen to buy their first piece of original art at Cambridge Art Fair.”
Cambridge Art Fair runs from 2-4 October at the Guildhall