Art and design fairs / BV Studios

Preview: The Other Art Fair Bristol 2017

By jack bray, Sunday Aug 20, 2017

You’ll find some 80 of the best emerging artists, handpicked by a committee of art industry experts, exhibiting and selling at Arnolfini across the weekend of September 1-3 as The Other Art Fair makes its third annual visit to Bristol.

The Fair’s third Bristol edition will continue to delight and inspire art lovers with a tightly curated and distinctive programme of fair features that will “create a platform for the ‘unexpected’”. You’ll find interactive theatre performances, live music, a restaurant and bar area, and much more. You can also discover the vibrant Colours of Bristol in a rainbow photographic display captured by the Bristol public and curated by Bristol24/7 and igers Bristol.

Local partners include Jamaica Street ArtistsBV StudiosCentrespaceSpike IslandWest Bristol Arts and Bath Artists’ Studios. Artists exhibiting include Tom White, Yuki Aruga, Anna Harley, Nadia Attura, Richard Heys, Greg Harris and many more.

Here are Fair manager Jessica Chow, marketing manager Emma Warren and international Fair development manager Sophie Lucas to tell us more.

The Other Art Fair is very much a fair for artists rather than galleries. What’s the thinking here?
JC: I think it gives the fair a great atmosphere, because visitors are coming to buy things directly from the artists: all the artists are there, you can chat to them about their work, ask them questions, get the story behind the works. It’s much more open and accessible than going to a gallery.
EW: I guess also one of the main things is with galleries they take a bigger commission from the artists, so with The Other Art Fair you’re buying directly from them. It’s supporting emerging artists before they make it big.

What else do you feel gives TOAF its particular appeal?
EW: I think there are two main things: firstly, you’re meeting these artists and buying directly from them. But, alongside that, we always put together a unique programme of features: we always try and do things that you don’t expect to see in an art fair environment.
So, this time round, we’ve got a tattoo artist who’ll be creating designs inspired by artworks showing at the fair. We’ve also got the #ColoursOfBristol campaign which we’re doing with Bristol 24/7, where visitors can take part themselves, and we’re creating a rainbow exhibition from their photographs.
So there are lots of small random things that are very creative, something a bit different.

What is it about Bristol that makes it so attractive to artists?
JC: I think it’s just such a creative city, there’s so much going on all the time. So much inspiration around in terms of street art and events.

Tell us what other elements of the fair you’re looking forward to.
JC: We’ve also got The Guardian’s virtual reality experience First Impressions, which uses state-of-the-art VR technology to enable viewers to see how a baby experiences the world during the first six months of life. Drawing on the latest academic research, viewers can relive the dramatic visual development that happens over this time. At first only muted colours are visible, then as the experience unfolds the world is coloured in – first reds and greens, then yellows and blues. Depth of focus increases, slowly the room becomes 3D and parents, other children, objects and even the family dog come into focus.

Visitors can experience The Guardian’s virtual reality project First Impressions

We’re also excited about Cardboard Castle, where visitors of all ages can decorate towering castles made from reclaimed cardboard and willow in the company of artists Joanne Hummel-Newell and Chris Jenkins. They use recycled materials and cardboard from local cafes and restaurants to create a big castle structure and people can come along, bring their own recycling, add to the castle and paint on it.

The fair begins this year in Bristol before moving onto London, Sydney and Brooklyn. Is Bristol now recognised as an artistic hub on the world stage?
SL: I would say yes, based on the response we’ve had. We are working in a venue, Arnolfini, that is recognised on the world stage and attracting artists such as Grayson Perry, and we ourselves are welcoming artists from Bristol, the south-west, London, and across the globe. These artists are actually choosing Bristol over our London fair. This is our only fair in a public arts space, so we’re really excited to be at Arnolfini and for our artists it’s a real certificate of recognition.

The Other Art Fair Fri, Sept 1 5-9.30pm (Private View)/£8/£7.20 concs. Sat, Sept 2 10am-6pm & Sun, Sept 3 10am-5pm/£6/£4.40 concs. For more information, visit


Read more: #ColoursOfBristol reaches halfway point

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