For those London-dwellers who don’t have the wallet to buy their art at Frieze, alternative event The Other Art Fair proves a bit more affordable. For this edition, many have already found the big draw to be YBA Gavin Turk’s “Project Beard,” for which Turk shaved off his beard and turned himself into famous bearded men Rodin, Morris, Cézanne, Matisse, Man Ray and Dali along the way. Turk’s poster of the artistic experience comes in an edition of 250 and is sold at £50, guaranteeing a sell-out. But there are plenty of other artists to discover during the three-day event, which has moved away from its East End digs in Truman Brewery and is held in Bloomsbury’s Victoria House for the first time this year. Of all the engaging work we saw, here are the five that especially caught our eye.
Black Tears Project
Shown in the UK for the first time, the Black Tears Project is one beautiful blue-white-black tapestry in which each square represents a tear. The fabric was created by 2,245 women, in 46 different countries, to raise awareness about human trafficking and sex slavery. The project was started in 2013 and the tapestry is set to be auctioned in June to raise funds for charities Proyecto Esperanza and Amaranta Foundation.
Photographer Tommy Clarke’s fascinating aerial images became something of an internet sensation last year, as people dreamed themselves away to far-off shores with the help of his pictures of azure blue waters and sandy beaches. At The Other Art Fair, those are on display, together with equally arresting images of colorful shipping containers that look like children’s building blocks when seen from the sky.
Carmen M. Castañeda Díaz
Artist and textile designer Carmen M. Castañeda Diaz’s intricate, time-consuming pieces—on view for the first time in London—struck a chord with us. Titled “Anónima by cm,” the project is based on the standards of haute couture and sees Castañeda use needle and thread on thin, sheer paper to create artworks that at first appear to be made with ink. Come closer and the pieces reveal their complexity: the patterns are made with cotton-thread painstakingly, precisely pulled through. The artist says a large artwork takes 30 hours to make.
The Sorting Office
Curated by Frankie Shea of Moniker Projects, The Sorting Office is, on the surface, a post-war British Post Office, filled with postbags and old letters. Beyond that, however, it’s the perfect environment in which to showcase Mark Powell’s detailed pen drawings, executed on found envelopes and postcards. The drawings juxtapose the creased faces of Powell’s characters with the creases in the letters, joining their stories together.
London is a city filled with beautiful, old signs—often adorning old-school pubs or the exteriors of former specialist stores. But the art of sign-painting is somewhat disappearing, which is what makes Archie Proudfoot’s work so special. The self-taught sign-painter and gold-leaf artist’s contemporary signs at The Other Art Fair make a convincing case for there still being space for the craft in today’s world.
Images by Cajsa Carlson