Brick Lane on a Sunday is a street of contrasts. At the South end, coming from the underground station Aldgate East, very few restaurants, galleries or shops are open. It is a Sunday after all! Then, progressively towards the old Truman’s Brewery, things liven up. There are more shops open, a food street market, a Vintage market, a Vegan market, musicians playing in the street – you wonder why they allow cars still to drive up the street, there are so many young people enjoying the atmosphere, which I have to admit makes me feel one of the oldest people here.
Then, into the queue for the Other Art Fair – it must be one of the few fairs where there appear to be more people coming on the last afternoon than for the other days of the the fair. Other fairs have the exhibitors fidgeting and packing up on the last afternoon – this is too busy for that!
I last visited the fair when it was in a constrained basement in Victoria House in Bloomsbury. The Truman Brewery gives it a new lease of life, a larger venue which allows more artists to exhibit in this lively youthful creative east-end environment.
The great thing about the Fair is that all the stands are set up by artists who are there to explain and sell their art, some quite well-established; some quite new, with a huge variety of work from ceramics to photography, from paintings to prints and a huge spread of prices – this could be the Affordable Art Fair of the East End!
The new venue allows new initiatives – the digital area has some of the best work, plus there is a focus on sustainability, with some nice comments such as ‘Buy less S..t – buy more art’, ‘Go Vegan’ and ‘Stop using so many post-it notes’, plus there is a collaboration between ‘The Big Issue’ which has a long history of supporting art for its social agenda, with artist Adam Neale creating a painting which combines 2D and 3D technology, the sale of which later in the year will support a new initiative.
The Fair has a great atmosphere and a real youthful buzz, with the artists happy to enthusiastically talk and explain their work. It is perhaps inappropriate to pick out any particular artists because there is so much quality work on display, from precisely detailed architectural drawings, to illustrations of London that go down into the underground, to ceramics, to knitted work, to stunning photographs, paintings, graphics, ceramics, reuse of found materials – and, perhaps not unexpectedly, a little comment on Brexit.
Get your cheque book out!