Own Art & Fresh: Interview with Fresh Art Fair founder, Eleanor Wardle

Date of event: 20/09/19 - 22/09/19

Fresh: Art Fair is coming up again this September, but this time at Ascot Racecourse. We wanted to pick the brains of founder Eleanor Wardle to get some art fair tips and to hear about what to expect from Fresh in the near future.

If you’re attending and eager to purchase some beautiful artwork, then you’re in luck because Fresh: Art Fair is an Own Art member. Browse the plethora of exhibition stands in the safe knowledge that your purchase can be split over 10 months interest free!

Private view evening at the Fresh Contemporary Art Fair, Cheltenham Racecourse. Picture by Andrew Higgins – Thousand Word Media

So, tell us a bit about what to expect about Fresh: Art Fair, Ascot, this September?

This is the first time for Fresh at new venue Ascot Racecourse where we will be hosting 53 leading Galleries from across the UK and Europe. There will be 6000 original prints and paintings, sculpture, glass and ceramics from £100 to £30,000. There will be 600 artists including exciting new talent, established professionals and Royal Academicians. Work by acclaimed sculptors Sophie Ryder and Adam Binder will be there together with Sir Peter Blake, Hockney, Hirst, Emin, Banksy, Warhol and McLean.

We’re expecting around 6,000 visitors over the weekend. There will be a Private View on the Thursday evening with live jazz, no shortage of free wine and the very first pick of the art on sale. With well over a thousand guests that evening, there’ll be a huge buzz.

Exhibiting Galleries at Ascot this September include London’s Quantum Contemporary Art, Cube Gallery and Gallery Different; Lime Tree Gallery from Bristol; Young Jamieson from Marlborough; Doorway Gallery, Sol Art and Gormley’s all from Dublin, and Bruno Dahl from Denmark.

This is the first year at Ascot, what made you choose this location and will you be taking the art fair to anywhere else in the near future?

We think art lovers shouldn’t have to go to London for a world class art fair. Ascot Racecourse is so convenient, easy to get to and perfectly set up for a large art fair like Fresh. We’re filling the entire grandstand concourse with 600 metres of gallery space. It’s less than twenty minutes from the M4, M3 and M25 making it accessible to a vast number of people, with unlimited free parking. If you’re buying paintings and sculpture it helps a lot to be able to take them home in your own car! Ascot also has a mainline station just 5 just minutes walk. There will be NO racing, just ART, with two fabulous Fresh: Cafes and Ascot’s spectacular Racecourse. Fresh: will be an unmissable day out.

And where next? With three hugely successful fairs under our belt, Fresh: Cheltenham will return again next Spring from 24-26th April 2020 with the welcome return – by popular demand – of the Fresh: outdoor sculpture park. Save the date!

“Browsing and buying contemporary art has never been easier. At Fresh: Ascot there are 6000 works of art in one convenient place.”

What are your tips for making the most out of an art fair?

Browsing and buying contemporary art has never been easier. At Fresh: Ascot there are 6000 works of art in one convenient place.  It’s the perfect way to see a huge variety of work, which is especially important if you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for. Pick up a Fresh: Fair Guide at the welcome desk when you arrive and note down the galleries and artists you like the look of. It’s a good idea to walk round the fair twice, with so much to see, a second look is useful.  Come with an open mind and enough time to enjoy yourself, you can even have a glass of wine while you browse. There will be two cafes serving refreshments all weekend, giving you the ideal opportunity to break from the sumptuous visual feast of art on display.

Do you have any advice for those who are looking to purchase some artwork?

Make time to talk to the gallery owners who are all experts in their field with their fingers on the pulse of the evolving art market. They know each of their artists well and can give you the background story on them – their personal journey, techniques, training and awards. Whether they’re established artists or emerging talent, the galleries will be able to guide you. Choosing art that you connect with on an emotional level should be a hugely enjoyable and personal experience, so don’t rush it. At Fresh: Ascot we’ll be offering a 10 month interest free credit scheme through Own Art, so if you fall in love with something but the price is a stretch too far, there’s help at hand!

Why would you recommend exhibiting galleries to use the scheme?

Allowing your client the option to spread the cost of a purchase gives them flexibility and makes the purchase more manageable financially.  With loans from £100 to £25,000 over 10 months completely interest free, buying art becomes so much easier. Exhibitors don’t have to be Own Art Members either. Fresh: acts as an Own Art agent and manages the process for everyone. The Fresh: team are big fans of the scheme that has helped hundreds of Fresh customers to date, and Own Art has the endorsement of the Arts Council so it’s widely trusted.

Are there any other events at the fair you would like to promote?

Fresh: Ascot will also have a full programme of talks and artist demonstrations with at least six painters, sculptors and print-makers showing their skills over the weekend. Talks will include ‘Art in Interior Design’ by interiors expert Dee Campling and the intricacies of framing by London framer and fine art fabricator Darbyshire.  More information can be found on our website

Fresh visitors are also invited to bring up to three pieces of pre-contemporary art to Fresh: Ascot for a free valuation by Bonhams. If you don’t want to bring the pieces themselves, you can take photographs instead. Bonhams will be able to advise you on selling your art and may consign suitable works for auction.

Apart from Fresh: Art Fair, of course, what other art fair would you say is a must see?

We think Frieze Masters is the place to go in central London to see fantastic art from all periods including modern, medieval and old masters. At Frieze you’ll find really high-quality work from around the world, but expect to add at least a couple of noughts to the price you pay!

Fresh: Art Fair is on from Friday 20th September until Sunday 22nd September at Ascot Racecourse.

Book tickets here.