HELAINA SHARPLEY AND THE BRIGHTON ART FAIR
Having graduated in 2006, I threw myself into the craft world and first exhibited at The British Craft Trade Fair in 2007. It was here I was lucky enough to meet Alison Milner and Christiane Kersten, who informed me that the tall man with the big hat, who was speaking with some makers, was Jon Tutton, of Brighton Art Fair and MADE fame… And so in 2008 and I applied for Brighton Art Fair, and was rejected! I would, however, be allowed to exhibit at MADE as I was more craft than art. The differentiation between art and craft is a much debated topic, and I believe I am and can be both, but on this occasion I wanted to do the art fair (due to my price points and the time of year of the fairs,) so I decided to wait and apply again the next year. So it was with great surprise, that in August 2008 I received an email to say there had been a cancellation and I could have a stand at the art fair if I wanted it – I had six weeks to prepare; create work, market myself, find the money to pay for it…. I had never done an art fair before!!! But my philosophy in work and life is generally to say yes to everything, so in mid-September I borrowed my Dad’s car and headed the 255miles south to Brighton.
It was a wonderful leap into the art world, where I was surrounded by artists using all mediums, at different stages in their careers, looking to gain varying things from the weekend. The whole fair passed me by in a flash, I couldn’t believe how busy it was and how many people wanted to say lovely things and buy my work! By the Sunday lunchtime I had sold, what was in my eyes, enough (I had more than covered my costs,) I was physically and emotionally shattered. Then out of the blue, a couple wanted to buy the largest piece on my stand ‘The Brighton Millinery and Mantle Warehouse.’ I couldn’t believe it! I took it to the wrapping/pay desk, where Anne-Marie turned to Jon and said ‘See, I told you she was art…’
2013 will be the fourth year I have done the show, and having not been there since 2010, I can’t wait to return. Brighton Art Fair opened my eyes to a new world – The Art World. The amazing warmth and support that Jon, Anne-Marie and Sarah give, and the exhibiting opportunities they have created, makes it easy for me to recommend their fairs to other makers, artists and customers. I look forward to almost every aspect (not the packing up though) of BAF, the beautiful Corn Exchange, the amazing attendants/helpers, the many well informed and appreciative visitors, the exhibitor friends I’ve made over the years, the cake in the café…
See Helaina talk about her work here..