As lockdown continues in the UK and across the globe, countless major and minor arts events have had to be cancelled in the interest of public safety. While this was certainly the most responsible route to take, it’s created a genuine setback for arts organisers and artists alike, with many now trying new solutions to help mitigate the impact of the restrictions.
London Original Print Fair
One popular event feeling the effects of the current lockdown is the London Original Print Fair (LOPF), which normally provides art fans with an unrivalled opportunity to see and buy five centuries’ worth of original prints from a range of top studios, artists and galleries. This event is normally held in the Royal Academy’s Main Galleries, which are sadly closed for the time being.
To avoid cancelling the LOPF entirely, the event’s organisers have moved the fair online for its 35th year in a new event entitled LOPF Online: Bringing to Fair to You. The online showcase runs from the 1st–31st May.
Regarding the move to a remote event, LOPF exhibitor Elizabeth Harvey-Lee told The Net Gallery that “Nothing can replace the ‘real’ Print Fair – seeing regular customers, meeting new people, personal interaction over the hundreds of prints usually to be seen on my stand, either unframed in solander boxes or framed on the walls.” Harvey-Lee is an honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers and a regular exhibitor at the London Original Print Fair, having previously studied the history of Fine Art and received art school training in the practice of printmaking. You can find her online at www.elizabethharvey-lee.com.
The team behind the London Original Print Fair are doing everything they can to make sure exhibitors like Harvey-Lee can still enjoy and benefit from the event online. Speaking on behalf of LOPF, Alison Wright explained, “It has been a mammoth team effort to pull together the material to create what we believe will be a really engaging and beautiful online Fair.
“Taking the event online means that we have all had a chance to look at every print in the Fair – and what a spectacular range there is, much of it on show for the first time. Now visitors will be able to see them all too, this year from the comfort of their own home… We hope people will love the online edition – and that we will all be back together again in person next year.”
Masterpiece London Art Fair
Another major blow to 2020’s art calendar comes with the postponement of the Masterpiece London Art Fair, which has established itself as one of the world’s leading cross-collecting fairs. Masterpiece offers galleries the opportunity to display both antique and contemporary works, exhibiting the finest works of art, design, furniture and jewellery available today. This year’s edition was scheduled to run from 24th June to 1st July, but has sadly been cancelled following the decision to prioritise the health and safety of those involved.
Jonathan Cooper was among the many galleries scheduled to appear at this year’s event who now have to make alternative plans. Cooper states that “This benchmark fair of excellence, with its breadth of international exhibitors, is the event of the year for my gallery. Almost as soon as we leave one Masterpiece, we are thinking of the one the following year…
“Perhaps a year’s postponement is not long but I do know that, without Masterpiece, it will not be the same, we have a large void in our calendar. We will be holding an exhibition in my gallery in Park Walk in October, showing works that we would have shown at the fair. We will encourage visitors, if that is not possible visitors online – we will be producing an online catalogue for this event.”
Jonathan Cooper has been promoting contemporary artists since 1988, specialising in representational drawing, painting, photography and sculpture. You can find out more about the gallery online at www.jonathancooper.co.uk.
On the cancellation of Masterpiece London, organisers have said that they “are committed to supporting our exhibitors and visitors, and over the coming weeks will share details of a range of initiatives [they] will be launching in lieu of this year’s edition.”
Artists of all mediums are being affected by event cancellations and postponements as UK organisers make the wise call not to proceed with events that have the potential to contribute to the spread of the virus. The UK photography event of the year, Photo London, has had to cancel its annual May event at Somerset House, focusing their efforts for now on accelerating the launch of their online Academy. The Photo London Academy plans to entertain its global audience with a variety of digital initiatives including an online catalogue and magazine and live talks with curators and artists. They currently plan to reopen the Fair this autumn.
Photographer Alix Marie was looking forward to showcasing her work in the Fair’s Stand Up, Sit Down: Voices of Women in Photography exhibition this summer. Celebrating exceptional image-making from women artists all over the world, this special exhibition had been organised on behalf of the HUNDRED+ HEROINES Foundation.
“The postponement (and hopefully not cancellation) of Photo London’s biggest impact for an artist such as myself is in terms of sales,” explains Marie. “The disappearance of fees and sales is a huge financial toll, which is why I think initiatives such as the Artist Support Pledge are important.
“On a human level, festivals and fairs such as Photo London or Les Rencontres d’Arles – which was cancelled yesterday – are important gatherings throughout the year for the community and an opportunity to meet new people and catch up with fellow artists and curators from all over the world.
“As an artist a lot of us are used to some extent of isolation while making work, but it is seeing shows and the social interactions that I miss the most.”
Alix Marie’s work can be found online at alixmarie.com. The artist is also running a limited edition print sale as part of #ArtistSupportPledge, which you can view on her website or through instagram (@afnmarie).
For the chance to still experience exhibitions during the lockdown, take a look at The Net Gallery’s selection of virtual walkthroughs on our 3D Exhibitions page.