The regions of England have been ill-served when it comes to contemporary art fairs, according to the father and daughter team behind Fresh, a new event running at Cheltenham Racecourse on May 12-14. “We were amazed that there was no major fair serving Birmingham,” says co-founder Anthony Wardle, who with his daughter Eleanor runs Paragon Gallery in Cheltenham, and is driven by the desire to give today’s artists a showcase outside London.
Their debut event will do just that, featuring 45 galleries and a total of 5,000 works on sale from an impressive roster of both established artistic heavyweights, such as Peter Blake and Bridget Riley, and exciting new names like Ukrainian-born oil painter Iryna Yermolova and English wildlife sculptor Adam Binder.
From pop art godfather Blake there will be a collage-like silkscreen, Sources of Pop Art IV (£5,000, edition of 175), while Riley’s joyously coloured screenprint Standing Up, Turning Round, Lying Down (price on request, edition of 75) will appear alongside works by two more of Britain’s best-loved female artists – Barbara Rae and Mary Fedden. Rae’s Achill Fence (£1,400, edition of 125), inspired by an island off the coast of Ireland’s County Mayo, is a fine example of her exploration of the impact colour and form have on our emotions, memory and imagination, and Fedden’s far more gently toned oil Still Life with Fruit and Bottle (£19,500) is equally characteristic of its painter’s aesthetic.
There will be talks throughout the weekend, an opening charity gala event on Thursday night (£10 per person), and Bonhams will be on hand to give valuations throughout the fair. The Wardles also plan to eventually extend Fresh to other parts of the country. “Once we started planning we realised there were lots of new ideas we could bring,” says Anthony. This is a notable new landmark on the contemporary art map.