Friday the 8th of November dawned with me and my lovely assistant loading up the car with a big stash of framed artwork and oodles of unframed work. With an improvised little table, a browser and a small step ladder there was only room then for one overnight bag between the two of us.
I was feeling quite nervous by now – I had never done an Art Fair before. Would the trip go smoothly, would it be a well organised event, and would I be bringing back an equally stuffed car full a couple days later? I could be severally out of pocket and crushed by the event and at this stage there was nothing more I could do.
Windsor Contemporary Art Fair took place at Royal Windsor Racecourse Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th of November with the Private View on Friday 8th.
I was very pleased to find that it is indeed a well organised event. There were big signs up across various roads in Windsor town and the marquee was splendidly robust and warm. Everything was exactly as promised and my requested plug socket was promptly moved into a more convenient position in my little booth.
I was hiring one of the smallest available stands and that was stretching my finances enormously. Composed of a one meter wall and a 1 ½ meter wall my stand really was tiny, but with careful planning I managed to hang 19 framed pieces with spares stashed under the table. On the table was a small box with small unframed works to rifle through and a further 60 unframed prints in the browser. I was concerned that I might have tried to stuff in too much stuff, but actually I was quite pleased with the effect. ..
The Private View night was packed – perhaps a bit too packed at times.
Saturday and Sunday were much more relaxed but with still a good buzz going on most of the time.
I had lots of enthusiastic conversations with people, gathered some new people for my mailing list and even gave out Double Elephant leaflets to potential course participants – even at that distance. Some people telling me that the often go down to Devon.
I’m glad that I thought to being some example plates with me (the copper etching of the hedgehog, hedgerow collagraph, bee wood engraving and butterfly photo etching) these gave me a good way of trying to tell people how my printmaking is done, and made a natural way to get into conversation with people.
I just wish I made a few more sales than I did. I got the impression that lots of people were feeling the pinch and although some established local stands were doing a good trade, there were several people like me who were struggling to cover the costs. And I do know that there were some that didn’t manage to complete a sale. As this was my first attempt at the Windsor Contemporary Art Fair, I think I was quite lucky to have got so close to covering my costs. There were a few tantalisingly close calls – indeed there is still one “nibble” that might tip over to being a sale that would be big enough to lift me from not quite covering all my costs and actually going into profit.
All in all – I would say that this was a positive experience for me. I learnt a lot; I know I can do it; there are a few things I would do differently and it is probably worth me having a go in Windsor again next year. I had no contacts in the area, no one knew me, and if I do it again next year perhaps a few people will remember me (?)
If anyone reading this has had experiences of doing Art Fairs in the UK and would like to give me feedback about what ones you would recommend and which to avoid, or any other advice, I would be seriously interested! Please contact me and I’ll send you a little something as a thank you. Probably a couple of postcards and a book mark, that sort of thing…
For more photos see my FaceBook page.