London Art Fair

Sarah Monk, Director London Art Fair - photo credit Mark Cocksedge

For those who haven’t heard of you before - tell us about who you are and what you do. 

I am the Director of London Art Fair. This will be my 4 year as director and I am responsible for the planning and delivery of the Fair.

When and where is the next London Art Fair?

The 29th edition of London Art Fair takes place in the Business Design Centre, Islington, London from 18 – 22 January with our VIP Preview and Preview Evening on Tuesday 17 January. 

Taking place in January, the London Art Fair has a role in heralding in the new year for the galleries and collectors who attend. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with people and reinvigorate with exceptional  art after the winter break. 

The Fair encompasses museum quality Modern British art and international and emerging contemporary art. The Fair has a heighted/ buzzy atmosphere partly as a result of the theatre of the building. The visitor experience offers a variety of depth and pace through features such as our highly regarded curated sections Art Projects and Photo50 alongside our Champagne Bar, Collectors Lounge, Talks and Discussions theatre and film screening room.

London Art Fair at Business Design Centre, Islington, James Champion


Your 2017 partner is Lightbox, what influenced your decision to partner with them and what impact will they have on the event? 

The Museum Partnership initiative was launched in 2014 with the Hepworth Wakefield; followed by Pallant House Gallery, Chichester in 2015 and Jerwood Gallery in 2016. Housed in a specially designed pavilion space at the front of the Fair, the Museum Partnership was launched to provide a prominent London platform and significant opportunity for patrons, collectors and general Fair visitors to engage with an exhibition of exceptional museum quality works – bringing these important private collections into the public domain; and highlighting the wealth of regional museums we have throughout the UK.

For our 2017 edition, London Art Fair has announced The Lightbox, Woking as its museum partner. We are delighted to welcome The Lightbox as it marks its tenth anniversary since opening in 2007, presenting major works from The Ingram Collection of Modern British Art, in a unique exhibition entitled ‘Ten Years: A Century of Art’; presented in our Modern British pavilion at the entrance to the Fair.

Curated by Peter Hall (Curator, The Lightbox) and Jo Baring (Director, The Ingram Collection) the display will demonstrate the breadth, depth and quality of The Ingram Collection spanning a century rich in artistic innovation and discovery. It will include key works by 20th century artists such as Elisabeth Frink, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Eric Ravilious.

Founded by media entrepreneur Chris Ingram in 2002, The Ingram Collection is widely acknowledged as one of Europe’s most significant collections of Modern British art and is further distinguished by its loan to The Lightbox for public display in a series of rotating exhibitions since 2007. Works from the collection are also regularly loaned to international and national exhibitions.

There is a strong synergy between The Lightbox and London Art Fair as we aim to nurture a similar culture of collecting, encouraging visitors to consider what it means to collect and what can or should form and inform a collection. Never has the landscape been so uncertain for our regional museums in the UK and we hope to help highlight the increasing importance of these acts of philanthropy to ensure their survival.

Jaye Moon, My Neighborhood, 2005, Lego & Plexiglas. Courtesy of Hanmi Gallery

London Art Fair has built up quite a reputation for its photography input - are you doing anything else special with photography this year?

Alongside our annual guest curated Photo50 exhibition; contemporary photography is exhibited widely throughout the Fair by galleries including ARTITLEDcontemporary, Galerija Fotografija, Noorforart Contemporary, Flowers Gallery and Pi Artworks Istanbul/ London.

I’m particularly looking forward to the stand presentations from Crane Kalman Brighton, who are bringing works from the late British portrait photographer David Steen, including portraits of Elizabeth Taylor and Twiggy and Purdy Hicks whose presentation will include works by Awoiska van der Molen, who has recently been shortlisted for the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize.

The Fair looks to support and encourage collecting of the medium at all levels and our Photography Focus Day features talks by Photo50 artists and curator Christiane Monarchi, guided tours from art historian and photography critic Jean Wainwright and panel discussions, including Brett Rogers from The Photographers’ Gallery and contributors to the latest Photoworks Annual.

The programme will explore participatory methods of working, the importance of materiality, and current trends around collecting photography.

David Watkins, Interplanetary Trajectory, 2014. Courtesy of Joanna Bryant Projects


The theme for this years Photo 50 is ‘Gravitas’ - what can you tell us about the images on show and the idea behind the theme? 

Photo50 is the Fair’s annual exhibition of contemporary photography, providing a critical forum for examining some of the most distinctive elements of current photographic practice.

This years edition entitled ‘Gravitas’, features a group exhibition of lens-based works by 13 artists, curated by Christiane Monarchi, founding editor of Photomonitor.

‘Gravitas’ is inspired by the Latin word denoting ‘depth of character’ or ‘solemnity’, and associated with the transition of the ancient Roman youth from boyhood to adult life. The 50 works presented in Photo50 provide a window into the world of adults-in-waiting, framing fleeting moments in their development between childhood and maturity with lived experience and memory.

In Gravitas, these photographic representations reveal the inner worlds of youths as they make the journey through to adulthood that is often fraught with challenges. The work is often autobiographical as in Brontë Cordes’ 21 and Madison Blackwood’s Dobe, intensely personal reflections on growing-up from the perspective of two young, recently graduated artists.

There are a vast ranges of themes at play including including identity formation, play, mental health, obesity, LGBT culture, masculinity and femininity, role models, as well as looking at subcultures and the impact of the connected world on teenage experience, as seen in the work of Sophie Green, Spencer Murphy and Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, who are investigating youth subcultures through the ‘boyracer’, biking and Scottish Common Riding festival scenes, respectively.

London Art Fair © Mark Cocksedge


Can you give us any inside scoop on artists featuring this year? Who should we watch out for?

I’m particularly looking forward to Art Projects this year. Art Projects is the Fair’s curated showcase of the freshest contemporary art from across the world and with galleries from outside the UK making up two thirds (61%) of the years exhibitors, the 13th edition is also our most international to date. Represented artists also come from a diverse selection of countries including Greece, Germany, Japan, France, South Korea and Zimbabwe.

We’re really excited to have such a diverse selection of galleries coming to London and particular highlights for me include First Floor Gallery (Harare), Zimbabwe’s first international, independent, contemporary artist-led gallery presenting a glimpse of contemporary urban Africa through the work of four artists, and ‘The Garden’, a radio-inspired sound-art work by Graham Fagen, who represented Scotland at the 56th Venice Biennale, conceived by Golden Thread Gallery (Belfast) as a 14-18 NOW WW1 Centenary Art Commission. Dialogues will also include the London premiere of C H A I N M A I L Project by Amartey Golding at Jack House Gallery (Portsmouth). This short film, presented as an ethnographic documentary, features the artist’s brother Solomon - who is the first black British male dancer in the Royal Ballet- spotlights inner city subcultures which raises questions about vulnerability and masculinity.


FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT www.londonartfair.co.uk

Stephane Joannes, Tanker 7, 2016, Oil on canvas, 60 x 20 ins, Courtesy of Quantum Contemporary Art