Below I’m going to indicate:
- some positive impressions
- artwork I liked; and
- some aspects which need improving before the next one!
The WIAF is on this week 11 October to 13 October, 10am to 6pm; 14 October, 10am to 4pm
Entry is £5 and Concessions at £3.50. There is no catalogue or any listing of artists in the fair.
- much more contemporary artwork on show than we’ve typically seen in previous exhibitions by mainly/only women artists
- SOME of the artwork was excellent, a lot of it was good. Relatively little was “walk past fast”.
- Some innovative media has been used for some of the artwork – which generally impressed
- There’s a variety of price points on the walls with some good representation within the affordable price range – which I think will do well.
Artwork I liked
There was artwork to like in all three galleries. I’m going to highlight those which grabbed my attention.
|View of the West Gallery from the Messanine.|
To me they just seemed arresting and luminous.
|Two paintings by Marilyn Hallam|
“Maggie Scott creates art from the particularity of who she is: a black woman, a feminist, a daughter, a mother, an activist and a British textile artist. Born in London, Scott graduated from St. Martin’s School of Art in 1976 with BA honours in Fashion Textiles and set up her first studio in London in 1980. Scott became well-known for her sumptuously crafted felt textiles to wear. Her life as a textile artist had existed in parallel with her involvement in gender and race politics, but it was an experiment with a series of large, autobiographical textile pieces which allowed her to combine art an activism. “
|Textile art by Maggie Scott
felted Marino wool on silk and stitch
Maggie Scott’s practice is informed by the experience of being black, British and a woman. With Five Times More she depicts the intimate relationship between mother and child, reflecting on both personal and collective experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood.
I was completely intrigued by how they are made. Somehow or other silk has been attached to felted marino wool and then stitched on top. Photography is definitely involved and there’s a hint of a screen print about it too. I found it both simple and relatable and complex in terms of concept and process – and very impressive!
Scott’s technical practice is unparalleled in the landscape of contemporary British art, sitting at the boundary of tapestry and digital media, she employs a combination of photography, digital collage and silk and then injects colour by laboriously pushing vibrant merino wool fibres through silk in a process known as nuno felting. The intensely physical process of felting is followed by the careful process of using stich to emphasise the smaller details of an image, evoking both the physicality of childbirth and the careful attention and tenderness of what follows. In working with fibre Scott pushes a medium traditionally associated with craft into the realm of fine art. As a textile artist Scott employs distinctly feminine materials, but with soft images she speaks hard truths.
I am, of course, a big fan of all those who paint plants, particularly wild/native plants – so I was riveted to see paintings of plants which can be found by the side of the road.
|Nessie Ramm – Road Verge paintings on repurposed aluminium road signs|
I initially began to paint on road signs because I was painting on metal already and it was a logical next step. I enjoy transforming existing objects rather than creating new ones. As the litter picker for my village I found signs dumped in hedgerows or abandoned on common ground. They have found a second career in the fine arts. At first I saw them simply as metal but after a while the text on the signs began to become part of the art as well. The instructions we unquestioningly obey when encountered on the road are transformed when removed from that context.
Reduce Speed Now is one of the latest works in the road verge series. It is a painting of a little verge in the car park behind One-Stop, in the middle of the village of Wadhurst, East Sussex. This had always been regularly cut by the council until the lockdown of spring 2020 when the strimmers remained locked in their sheds. The result was a miraculous mass of blooms plus associated bugs, bees and butterflies.
“Unnatural Women” is an exhibition of works by leading 20th/21st Century female artists curated by artist and writer Rowena Easton.
The show features:
- seminal artists, such as Paula Rego (1935-2022) and Jean Cooke (1927-2008)
- alongside established contemporary names like Marcelle Hanselaar, Alice Kettle and Geraldine Swayne
- plus emerging talents including Angelina May Davis, Abigail Norris and Elissa Jane Diver.
I have to say I found it very odd.
|Hedge Series by Olivia Bullock|
Her artwork is painted in gouache but also involves very painted collage and intricate papercutting. Just the sort of thing I like. Each painting is priced at £500 which seems to be pretty much spot on for their size and I’d be very surprised if she doesn’t sell most if not all of them.
This gallery contains the artwork selected from the Call for Entries in April – so many more one off examples of an artist’s work.
Women in Art Fair seeks the best in contemporary art, photography, textile and sculpture; all mediums.
The major problem with the North Gallery was lack of labels…..
I went back later when the artwork was all sorted and half the labels were on the walls.
|Mum’s Not the Word by Denise Felkin|
‘Mum’s Not the Word – Childless Childfree ’ is a collection of 50 photographic images of women who do not have children and their reflections on what this means to them as individuals. Raising questions of identity, social constructs, the concept of what it is to be a woman and how stereotyped behaviour is influenced by various factors both external and internal, such as the expectation around having children and the impact this has in an era of environmental crisis.
Areas for Improvement
- The installation and hang needs to be finished before the Press arrive – and sadly this was not the case.
- Labelling was seriously lacking when I arrived.
- Without a catalogue and numbering, all I’ve got to go on re commenting on artwork is the label – so sorry to all those artists who were still lacking a label when I left.
- None of the Booths were named – I’d not got a clue who was exhibiting some of the work. This was partially remedied by the time I left.
- the North Gallery hang was unfinished – and had nothing to indicate the purpose of the exhibit (i.e. the response to the Open Call)
- Given I know how very fast the Mall Galleries Team are and how long it takes them to down a very large exhibition in all three galleries and hang a new one, I know this is NOT down to the MG support team. I think the WIAF organisers – and some of the exhibitors – are going to need a very thorough debrief to identify what caused problems / delays, how much time was budgeted for different aspects and how much time is needed in future and/or what work practices / approaches of the organisers need to change. I suspect the root of the problem was a lot of people who were very new to the space were doing this for the first time.
- No listing of ALL the artists in the Fair.
- Northern artists seemed to me to be very much under-represented. Ether WIAF needs to get much better at curating art / attracting exhibitors from across the UK or needs to label this as ‘the WIAF – London and South East’.
- Nowhere to sit down – I think art fair organisers sometimes forget that older people forced to stand tend to stay for a much shorter time than they might do otherwise!
- A press pack – covering all aspects – was lacking. While the press section on the website is good, it’s always helpful to have a press pack too