Luci Noel joined the Affordable Art Fair team in a temporary role in 2011 and never looked back! She is now the Fair Director of both the Hampstead and Battersea Autumn Collection. Luci completed an undergraduate degree in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, and an MA in Arts Policy and Management (with a specialism in curating) at Birkbeck. Together with the team, she strives to support artists and gallerists who share a common ethos in introducing emerging talent to the art world. We are thrilled to have Luci on the Expert Judging Panel for the Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2018.
Lisa: You’ve been working for the Affordable Art Fair for 6 years now…how do you think the fair has evolved since you joined?
Luci: I joined the Affordable Art Fair at a particularly exciting time; we were a few months out from launching the first Hampstead fair and we were a particularly small team of very talented and dedicated people who made things happen. In the six years that have passed the team has grown somewhat. I’ve been a part of over 30 fairs (including a few international outings) and they continue to excite me. Evolving the fairs and keeping them fresh is something that is core to what we do. This element gives us the opportunity to work with some amazing emerging talent – through our annual Recent Graduates’ Exhibition, our partnership with Made in Arts London and most recently the University of the West of England at our Bristol fair this September. What hasn’t changed in this time is our absolute commitment to Will’s (Will Ramsay, our Fair Founder) founding ethos of widening the art market, making the prospect of experiencing and collecting contemporary art accessible, whether you have prior arts knowledge or are a total novice. The fairs remain a welcoming environment where you can learn, explore, collect and support emerging and mid-career artists represented by some awe-inspiring international galleries – or just have a fun day out with the family or a glass of wine with a friend!
Lisa: Can you tell us what being a director of the Battersea (Autumn) and Hampstead AAF involves? And what’s your favourite part of the job?
Luci: Despite growing in number over recent years our team remains pretty small for all we do throughout the year. As with many small businesses my role is incredibly diverse. Overall my responsibility is about ensuring the successful delivery of the events I work most closely on, supporting the galleries and artists, my team and our partners to produce the best possible events that entertain and surprise our audience and feed back into the arts eco-system. On a day to day basis I could be meeting with a new partner for our programming or content, talking to an artist about an installation, working with our exhibitors and selection committee to review applications and allocate stands for an upcoming event, working with our marketing team on new ideas for our creative campaign and features for press, or I could be in my happy place – onsite overseeing the build of our amazing marquee on Hampstead Heath which we project manage totally in house and is an overwhelming project every year, but the unbelievable location is a privilege to work in and the City of London and local community groups help the make the fair what it is.
Lisa: I’ve heard you have a collection of art yourself. Can you tell us which piece in your collection is your absolute favourite and why?
Luci: This is always such a hard one! My modest collection is vast in aesthetic, style and concept. Every morning I wake up to a beautiful photograph, ‘Monday Dreams of Sunday’, by Barry Cawston represented at the fair by The Drugstore Gallery – its moody melancholy, balanced by sharp rays of light breaking the cloud sets the tone for the day to come. Two years ago I finally took the plunge with an artist I had been lusting over for many moons and took home a Henrietta Dubrey. Albeit a small and intimate work by Henrietta, her elegant figure still manages to jump off of the canvas with bright and thoughtfully applied luscious paint.
Lisa: You studied Fine Art yourself at university. Do you still ever create art-works yourself and if so, what sort of art are you most interested in making?
Luci: I have to say I don’t! It’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about and would love to be able to dedicate more time to, but being an artist is really a full-time job and I have one that is hectically exciting, helping to support amazing practicing artists find an audience. Maybe I’ll find my way back to my own practice in the future, with some more head space.
Lisa: The Affordable Art Fair has grown and grown…I was in Amsterdam in October and saw posters everywhere for the Amsterdam version! What is it about AAF that you think makes it such a popular and successful organisation?
Luci: Our formula is very consistent and true to our founding ethos, the galleries we work with represent some fabulous quality artists, and as an international team we are really dedicated to pushing forward in what we do every year. At the heart of it our fairs are fun events, that people seem to want to come back to year-after-year.
Lisa: You must see a lot of contemporary art every day! Are there any emerging artists that you know of that you tip to be the bright stars of the future?
Luci: We are hot off the heels of our Battersea Autumn edition where we present our annual Recent Graduates’ Exhibition. This year there was some phenomenal talent including artists such as Romily Alice Walden whose stunning neon nude sculptures are all meticulously crafted by the artist herself; through the work she playfully questions the role of craft in a digital age – I love to see young artists working with or responding to traditional craftsmanship which is something we are seeing more and more. Looking forward to next year and I’m thrilled to be working with a young ceramicist, Nam Tran, who uses a traditional Japanese technique of Raku juxtaposed with contemporary western pop-cultural references. We are soon to announce an exciting project Nam is working on for an installation at our Hampstead fair in May.
Lisa: We’re thrilled to have you on the judging panel for the 2018 Jackson’s Open Painting Prize. What will you be looking for in the works on judgement day?
Luci: I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in and seeing all of the entries. I hope we are surprised along the way with how materials have been manipulated by the artists and the subject matter they are looking at through their work. At the end of the day it will be about the skill of the work and the balance between craftsmanship and content.
Lisa: What plans are in store for the Affordable Art Fair in 2018?
Luci: We are working on some exciting plans for 2018 at the moment and hope to unveil some of these in the new year. We will continue our partnership with Made in Arts London at the Hampstead fair, this is a fascinating insight into the work currently being produced at some of the best art schools in the world and their most recent graduates. I am also particularly excited to have some new partners up our sleeves, including a collaboration with Cass Sculpture Foundation which will help to highlight the diversity of this amazing art form. Not to mention the development of our ecommerce platform which now allows us to show artists work to our audience 365 days a year, direct to your own front room – just what we need in this weather!
Lisa: Where online can we learn more about the Affordable Art Fair?
Luci: The Affordable Art Fair website is at https://affordableartfair.com/
For more information on the Jackson’s Open Painting Prize visit https://www.jacksonspaintingprize.com/