Reading Contemporary Art Fair 2011

Went along to the Rivermead Leisure Centre to see what items where on sale at the art fair to brighten up the house.

Reading in Colour by Annick McKenzie

[[This isn’t a picture we bought – it’s the art fair’s branding/logo.]]

The Centre had covered over the indoor bowling green and set up around 90 alcoves for the artists (or their representatives) with a cafe and workshop area across the back wall.

Sue and I had arrived 2 hours before closing so arranged to do a few circuits, one to get a feel for what was available and another to have a second look at anything that caught our eyes.

One the whole the art on offer fell into two camps:

  • expensive items that we couldn’t afford
  • not-quite-so-expensive items that we could afford but wouldn’t buy as they were things we could make ourselves.

Good examples of the latter were being sold by Lin Osborn, such as:


where the colours are strong and vibrant but the item left you with an urge to make one yourself instead of spending a few hundred pounds. Of course, we knew deep in our hearts that we would never get round to it and, even if we did, it wouldn’t be as good. Lin’s art shows a good attention to detail and lovely choice of pictures so have a look at her website.

Similarly, Neil Kelly’s “Amusements” series seemed very good but also so simple that you wanted to DIY and save £250. Take the “Traffic Jam” piece – a box frame containing a wasp (from a fly fishing lure) and a plastic jar of tiny plastic cars (from McDonalds kids meals) with a very clean layout. We knew it would look good on the wall and become a conversation piece but why not personally do something similarly with a different play-on-words? Time will tell if anything comes from such inspirational works.

As to the former category, I don’t doubt that the £1,250 price tag on one of Steve Yeates fabulous papier mache sculpture is the going rate but not one I could justify. Also, there is nowhere in the house such a glorious object could go that would do it justice. Such art is for the affluent with space to fill.


But we did find some pieces elsewhere at the fair to take home.

Kathy Miller had some seriously special paintings using dots of acrylic paint to build up the image; Sue chose a large print called “Rainforest Jewels”:


Kathy also had some eerie moonlit scenes which, although created with the same technique, had a completely different feel (in addition to the physical texture of the works). The photos on the website do not do these works justice.

The World of Moose had some amusing prints and Sue chose the Herbarium to hang in the downstairs loo to give visitors something to entertain them while they’re busy.


[[No, you can’t read the text; if you could, you wouldn’t want to buy the original … or visit our house!]]

Thirdly, I decided to pick up some art by buying an item donated to the Prince’s Trust, a charity with a stall at the fair. Not too pricey at £40 and ticks the “doing good” box, Reading’s Castle Galleries had donated Leigh Saunders’ “Plaice Invaders”:


I had wanted to buy one of Helen Parsley’s amazing pictures set in church ruins as they were so full of life and light but, unfortunately, they were just a bit too large for anywhere in the house we could think to hang it. Maybe another time.

And finally a mention to Chris Shave, whose “You Are What You Eat” mildly amused me so we bought it as a greetings card:

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