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Interview with Will Ramsay

As Asia's first ever Affordable Art Fair gears up to launch in Singapore on November 19–21 2010, we talk to its founder to find out his top tips on buying art and making the most of the event. By LARA DAY

Eleven years ago, you founded the first Affordable Art Fair (AAF), in London. How did you come up with the idea in the first place?
I realized that many people weren't buying at fairs because they didn't think they could afford anything.  It didn't help that things were rarely priced, so visitors had to bravely ask the price; we insist on everything being priced on the wall.
The AAF now takes place in cities across the globe—Amsterdam, Bristol, Brussels, London, Melbourne, Milan, Paris, New York and Sydney—and has finally arrived in Asia. Why here, and why now?
I have fairs in the U.S., Europe and Australia, and Asia seemed the obvious next move. We already had an office in Hong Kong, where my company launched Art HK, and we felt that Singapore was worth looking at. The Singapore galleries thought it was a good idea, too, and that gave us the confidence to launch it with their support.
What should visitors expect from the AAF Singapore?
A good spread of works from East and West, from paintings to ceramics, sculpture, printmaking and photography, across a range of prices—but none over S$10,000. There should be something for every taste bud. Part of the ethos of the fair is education for those who want it, as well as making art approachable, affordable and fun. So we’ve got printmaking demos, a children’s studio for the kids and a recent graduates’ exhibition showcasing stars of the future.

What tips can you give to the region's first-time art buyers?
1. Buy what you like, not what you think you should be buying. 2. Don't be afraid to ask questions to the gallery owners: they will have a passion for the art and can help you understand more about it, and so enjoy it more. 3. Create a short list before making a final choice; ask the gallery if they will keep it on hold for an hour while you see the other galleries.

Speaking of buying, what was your first art purchase?

A canvas from a street market in Moscow in 1990.

What do you collect today?
An eclectic mix of artworks. I'm currently buying big sculptures for my garden [in the U.K.].



Published on Oct 21, 2010

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