The London Art Fair
This January from the 19th to the 25th, I was lucky enough to be a part of the events team at The London Art Fair. The fair took place at The Business Design Centre in Islington. I had previously applied to be an event assistant back at the beginning of October and had been looking forward to it ever since.
Day 1 began promptly at 9am and I was sure to arrive early so that I could take a good look at the immense building. I had never been before and the architecture was extraordinary. It felt great to be working at such a prestigious event held here. Much to the digression of many involved, our first day consisted of mainly bag-packing in a little warehouse room numbered 118. The room was teaming with cardboard boxes full of magazines, fair guides and floorplans. The ‘118 experience’ as it was aptly named was fairly boring and of course very repetitive but good bonds and high moral was established among the group and remained so throughout the week.
Day 2 saw us interacting a lot more with our designated section of galleries – handing out daily schedules to them all and chatting about how their day was yesterday. As with all arty people, or people in general, some were rude, some were lovely. Goes with the territory. My galleries were situated in the ‘Art Projects’ section of the fair which was also where the ‘Photo 50’ exhibition stood. The second day, I got the chance to meet the fantastic curator of the ‘Photography as Art’ exhibition, Sheyi Bankale and quiz him about his work and ideas.
Day 3 everybody started to settle in nicely to the routine of things at the fair. Talks started up in the Talks and Discussions Theatre and we would ’round robin’ our way around the fair, situated at different points at different times. My favourite spot was actually at the Art projects desk where I would be directing people wherever they needed to go, and dealing with other general inquiries, complaints and complements. I found this a very interesting part of the job indeed.
Day 4 saw the performance of ‘North South’ by the artist William Mackrell. The five-minute performance was highly controversial and unfortunately a few complaints arose from exhibitors and members of the public.
Day 5 and I was wishing the time would slow down. I really started to get along with the other events assistants and was thoroughly enjoying the responsibility and taste of what the fair provided.
Day 6 was by far the busiest, what with it being a Saturday of course, time was spent at each designated area, as well as taking afternoon breaks upstairs in the Photo50 Exhibition (shhhh).
Day 7 and the best news! Bingo would be arriving upstairs in the Talks and Discussions Theatre! The day was rather chilled, and we spent time working of course, but winning a cheeky game of Bingo every now and then! I was sad to see the week come to an end but I was glad I could look back on it with such a positive outlook.
Why I wanted to do it…
To push myself outside my comfort zone, to do something different, to expand my knowledge, to interact with different people and get a glimpse into the lifestyle of individuals who make this their full-time job. I also thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to engage with galleries whose work I really enjoyed, and luckily, it was.
What I gained…
A whole host of contacts including galleries whose artists I had previously studied throughout my time at University. One in particular being an artist named Klari Reis – her stunning works on petri-dishes were of constant fascination to me and so to see this up close and personal was a great moment. I gained a sense of perspective on the art world, and I know this can be highly controversial, but for me, I found a bit more of an understanding towards works of art I had once previously dismissed. The experience was invaluable and I would jump at the chance to be involved in something like it again.