Liesha Yaz was selected to exhibit her paintings in one of the rooms at Artrooms 2016, an international art fair of 80 independent artists from 33 countries. The artists were selected from an open call to exhibit for four days in Central London from 23–25 January 2016. Liesha tells us about her experience of taking part in Artrooms 2016.
Liesha Yaz at Artrooms 2016
by Liesha Yaz
Artrooms 2016 is an international art fair that takes over the whole first floor of the Melia White House Hotel in London. The selected artists are each given their own room to display their art and curate as they wish, it’s a fantastic concept and the only fair of its kind in London. This was the second year for Artrooms, which I am sure will go from strength to strength. In the first year the artists had to pay to take part but this year the founder and director Christina Cellini Antonini, who is passionate about supporting artists and who realises that many are under financial constraints, managed to secure enough sponsorship to make the whole event free for the selected artists. The idea being that artists were selected for their talent rather than their ability to pay exhibition fees.
I saw the open call on Twitter, and the fact that I could exhibit in London for free, in the comfort of a luxury hotel room, really appealed to me. The entry fee was only £10 which I thought was very reasonable. The application process was completed online and was very simple. 62 of the 70 selected artists were announced on Christmas Day, I was not among those selected but an announcement was posted to say one of the section committee had been unable to announce his chosen artists but this would be announced in due course, whilst doubtful, I still had a chance. On News Year’s day I received an email congratulating me on being selected. From then on it was all go, I received details about the event, the press conference and contracts.
As I paint in oil I had to choose paintings which were already dry, I had quite a few in the studio ready and waiting. I wanted to frame some of them so put in a rushed order to Jackson’s for some bespoke frames and as always they were very accommodating when I explained that I needed them by a certain date. I was assured I would have them and they arrived on the exact day they were promised.
A week before the event we were invited to the press conference and to view the rooms, it was a great opportunity to meet some of the other artists taking part, to hear the ethos of Artrooms and to meet the organisers and some of the sponsors. Christina’s passion and warmth were infectious and Italian hospitality was evident from the start with a complimentary open buffet brunch and free flowing wine. Christina is an indomitable character who is the driving force behind the whole event, she is passionate about art and supporting artists, she was hands-on throughout the whole weekend.
I felt quite nervous the week before, wondering if my work would stand up against the other artists. It was my first time exhibiting in London and I felt quite intimidated by the whole thing but a few of the other artists emailed me and I realised we were all feeling the same. We were asked to go up on the Thursday to hang the work and prepare the room. On arrival we were given the keys to our allocated rooms and the hanging didn’t take long. It was great to see each room take on a different character depending on the artist, the rooms led off from different corridors so all the UK artists were together, as were the European, Russian, Middle East etc, each in separate corridors.
I was amazed by the variety and quality of work on show: paintings, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, lighting, video and sound, and conceptual work all under one roof. I often visit art fairs and even had I not been participating I would have been thrilled to visit Artrooms. The Private View was amazing- visitors filled the corridors, champagne flowed and visitors interacted with the artists as much or as little as they wished, the atmosphere was fantastic.
Throughout the weekend various conferences had been organised by Marine Tanguy Art which were fascinating. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday we all had a steady stream of visitors, people just browsing, serious collectors and gallery professionals. For me one of the highlights was to meet the other artists, we had a real camaraderie in the United Kingdom corridor looking out for each other rooms and chatting about our artistic endeavours and what inspires us. In spite of our different ages and nationalities we all had art in common so we had an instant connection.
Throughout the weekend I made some great friends from all over the world, all amazingly talented. I discussed a possible collaboration with artist Samuel Harriman, I sold some work and was able to interact directly with the buyers and explain the process and the meaning behind the paintings, I met international curators and art consultants who gave me feedback as well as their contact details, I had many great conversations about my work and received numerous compliments about my work.
What is there not to like? I thoroughly recommend applying for Artrooms 2017 and I think more art fairs should be looking for funding from sources other than the artists who are already producing the work, buying materials, spending their time and renting studios – the artists are already investing a huge amount. There should me more ways of exhibiting without paying fees.
The painting at the top is
‘Tectonic’ a circular oil painting by Liesha Yaz