For me the Surrey Contemporary Art Fair was a steep learning curve; great fun but very hard work!
It started weeks before with planning, drawing my stand space to scale a trying to decide which paintings to take and how they would fit, making signage and printing labels. Also making lists of all the tools and equipment I would need,and then packing everything from screwdriver and spirit level to table, print rack and computer.
The next hurdle was fitting it all in the car! This proved a real 3D jigsaw, especially as my friend Jane had kindly decided to come with me to help, and squeezing in an extra person and luggage was a bit of a challenge.
After a 5 hour drive we arrived in Esher, Surrey and checked in to the hotel next door to the venue. The following morning we were up early and at 8.45 began unloading; carrying everything in from the car to the stand. About 20 trips later we started unwrapping and sorting it all out.
Working from the centre of the stand outwards the hanging commenced; gradually levelling, measuring, driving in screws, and adjusting one painting at a time. We finished at about 5pm and just about had time to rush back to the hotel, do a very quick change and get back to the venue again by 5.45 for the Private View. The evening was extremely busy and went by in a hectic whirl. We finally got to bed at about 11.00, TOTALLY exhausted!
There was no let up though as on Saturday morning we were back on the stand at 9.45am and on our feet until about 6.30pm. The visitor numbers were very high and we talked to literally hundreds of people.
Sunday was also busy but did seem a little more relaxed. The fair closed at 5pm and then it was time to take everything down re-wrap it and try and fit it all back in the car, but now with less time and in the dark! We stayed a fourth night in the hotel and woke up to falling snow! After a hasty re-packing of the car in the hotel car park, we set off on the long journey home and luckily managed to stay ahead of the incoming snow storms.
Despite all the hard work we had a great time. The fair was very well organised and all the other exhibitors were friendly and helpful. We had lots of laughs along the way and gained a whole network of new friends.
Visitor numbers were nearly 4,000 over the weekend with the Private View alone attracting around 1000 guests. The organisers received many positive comments from visitors about the superb range and excellence of the art for sale and the welcoming atmosphere of the event, the interaction with the artists, enhancing the whole experience.
I’m happy to report that some of my paintings found new homes and the little painting ‘Hinting at Hope’, which I did especially for The Prince’s Trust, sold on their stand on the first day. The charity reported that they had their best fair ever in terms of money raised from the mini canvas sale and were extremely grateful for all the artist contributions and visitor purchases.
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