Art thou a virgin?

Published on 11 November 2014

Fear not. The Affordable Art Fair promises not to hurt you or your piggy bank.


Buying art can be somewhat intimidating for the uninitiated. But the Affordable Art Fair (AAF) aims to change all that by demystifying the world of art for you.

The Fair was founded in London by Will Ramsay 15 years ago to make art accessible to everyone. This year alone, 17 fairs have been held in 13 different cities, pulling in 1.4 million visitors and clocking up sales exceeding S$427 million.

The best part? Sixty per cent of AAF visitors are usually first-timers, and 30 per cent have never bought an original work of art. Meaning, you’re far from being alone if you’re a newbie.

STATE OF THE ART Held at the F1 Pit Building, the Affordable Art Fair saw 17,800 visitors last November and over S$4.9million worth of contemporary art sold.

This month, the AAF is back in Singapore for the fifth year. No less than 950 artists and 107 galleries have already confirmed their participation. If you’re paralysed by choice, fear not. The A List gets expert tips from Fair Director, Camilla Hewitson.


Before you buy, what should you look out for?

Start by educating yourself. Attend the many free talks and workshops at the Fair for new collectors – they are informal, interactive and a great way to learn the basics.

Look for artworks that catch your eye and hold your interest. If the image stays in your head after you walk away, it probably means you can see yourself living with it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for more information, like the artist’s CV or to see other examples of his work. It’s a good sign if you like his whole body of work.

If a painting you like is over your budget, ask to see other works by the same artist. There may be something else you like that’s within your budget.

Start by buying pieces that are affordably-priced, such as prints and small-sized paintings. As your knowledge and passion grow, you can take bigger leaps.

ARTISTS TO WATCH Camilla Hewitson recommends:


Multi-disciplinary Workshops explore in depth three mediums of growing interest: photography, sculpture and watercolour. Experts offer live demonstrations, hands-on workshops and visual experiments, taking visitors from concept to finished work.

The ‘Under S$1,000 Wall’ is curated to showcase the best works within a particular price range, and provides greater visibility for new and established artists.

The Arty-Licious evening (21 Nov), which sees car brand Volvo partnering local gallery, INSTINC. Five international artists are randomly paired with five local artists to paint a Volvo car live outside the F1 Pit Building, transforming the vehicle into a work of art.


AAF also features activities to keep your little ones engaged while you browse.

The Children’s Art Studio provides a series of free, hands-on workshops for kids aged four to 12, where they can explore their creativity and learn various art techniques.

Wild Drawings, inspired by the House of Wild Plants exhibition by Isabelle Desjeux and Playeum, is an interactive art workshop where kids and parents can create their own drawings based on their observations of wild plants and nature.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned collector, there is something for everyone at this month’s Affordable Art Fair.

For potential art buyers, Hewitson offers a parting tip: “Remember that you’re buying art for your own enjoyment, so all that really matters is your opinion. Trust your own taste, and go for pieces you will take pleasure in viewing day in and day out.”

The Affordable Art Fair is held at the F1 Pit Building (1 Republic Boulevard) from 20 to 23 November, and tickets are available via Sistic. For more information, visit

Scroll Up