National Gallery responds to recession

Following a National Gallery art forum on the economic climate and its impact on local art sales, the gallery has decided to host an Affordable Art Fair.

‘An affordable art fair is not a new concept globally, they take place all over the world – London, New York, even New Zealand,’ said Gallery Director Natalie Coleman. ‘For years I’ve been lamenting the fact that prices in Cayman are generally quite high, particularly for a young emerging market, so my feeling was that it was very difficult as young collectors to buy original artwork.’

Discussing this issue with artists at the last National Gallery art forum, attendees pooled ideas on how to create and sell art in the current economic climate. Rather than the artists losing money by dropping prices, it was suggested that they make smaller works or try limited-edition prints or photography.

‘It’s a great time to introduce young collectors to the art market in the hopes of securing lifetime patrons,’ Ms Coleman said. ‘If people are able to buy at a younger age, they are more likely to stick to buying local originals and supporting the local art market over time.

[In the current recession,] I think all of us are having to be much more creative at this time, but it’s great to have to do that. Everyone can rest on their laurels and be comfortable with that but, especially in our industry, it’s great to be challenged.’

Promoting art education

‘Everything we do at the gallery has an educational component,’ Ms Coleman said. In the week prior to the Affordable Art Fair, the gallery will be hosting two lectures: one will be an introduction to art collecting and the other will introduce the local artists, who will be at the Fair so people are more familiar with their works and have some background knowledge prior to the fair.

‘We want to encourage people to find out more about collecting and the art market in general,’ explained Ms Coleman.

The educational aspect is not just for patrons, either. New and emerging artists can learn how to price their works effectively and discover more about the art market in general.

This will provide an ideal prelude to next spring, when the gallery will host a full-day seminar on art and business, said Ms Coleman.

‘There will be five speakers looking at different aspects, from marketing your artwork to as using the Web, putting together a strong portfolio, and just providing a basic arts admin and business overview,’ she said.

Speakers will be invited members of the wider art community, she added.

Improving Cayman’s art scene

‘This fair is about accessibility and affordability,’ said Ms Coleman. ‘I’d like it to be annual. We’re certainly doing it this year because it’s the right economic climate to do something like this, it’s fitting, and if it’s successful it’s definitely something we’d continue next year.’

Explaining that in Cayman we have a unique art culture, Ms Coleman added that the eventual goal is to increase the number of spaces in which artists can exhibit work.

‘You know, in Paris, you have the Left Bank; every Sunday you have spaces to show art. You don’t have that in Cayman,’ she said.

Call to artists

All artists across Cayman are welcome to participate in the Affordable Art Fair, said Ms Coleman.

‘We’ll probably have an emerging artists section with artists who are brand-new,’ she said. ‘But each individual section will be managed by the artist.’

Held at the courtyard in Harbour Place, there will be ample space for artists to set up their areas.

Nickola McCoy has started a company called Artecentrix Gallery, which makes prints for local artists, an ideal inclusion in the fair as prints are very affordable and are good options for new collectors as limited-edition prints, for example, hold their value well, said Ms Coleman.

‘Nickola will have a whole section on prints along with educational materials on prints generally, explaining the difference between signed prints, limited edition prints and so on,’ she said.

Other local artists who have already confirmed their involvement with the fair include Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette, Randy Chollette, Charles Long, David Bridgeman and Chris Mann, among others.

Accepted genres for works at the fair include oil, acrylic, watercolour, photography, etchings, mixed media, ceramic, glassware, limited-edition prints, mosaic and sculpture. No crafts are being accepted.

Artists can contact the National Gallery at 945-8111 or email [email protected] to sign up for the fair.