Sydney Contemporary Art Fair Review


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Sydney Contemporary Art Fair 12th – 16th September 2018
Carriage Works Redfern Sydney

The Sydney Contemporary Art Fair has just presented its fifth major expo. Beginning as a biennial event in 2013, the Fair is now an annual event that presents works through International and Australian galleries plus artists and art groups. This year the Fair showcased 87 galleries, over 300 artists and had sales of over 21 million dollars. The Fair is held in the old Eveleigh railway carriage and blacksmith workshops dating from the 1880s and is a very interesting building. Sandi Hook and I attended the Fair for 3 nights and 4 days starting with the Wednesday Preview night.

The fair was divided into sectors: Galleries (established International and Australian galleries), Future (emerging artists and new work from new galleries), Paper Contemporary (in association with the Print Council of Australia focusing on printmaking and works on paper, both Australian and International), Performance Contemporary, Video Contemporary, Installation Contemporary, Kid Contemporary, (for kids to playfully investigate the psyche of cats). Within these sectors, the displays encompassed 3 D, Video, painting, drawing, textiles, installations, artist books, prints, performances as well as associated workshops, tours and artist talks. Not sure if we saw everything there, but we tried hard (probably doing 10k a day just walking around it). Patricia Piccinini’ installation The Field developed for her GOMA 2018 exhibition was a major attraction for the Fair (and I managed to catch much of her artist talk). Rather than explaining it all see links below to give some idea of the scope of work and artists.

As printmakers, our focus was Paper Contemporary (which was curated by Akky Van Ogtrop, president of the Print Council of Australia). We there too as Print Council committee members, helping occasionally on the Print Council Stand. Twenty different galleries and print studios were represented with Jo Lankester exhibiting her work with Unlimited Sydney. Jo’s work was also was selected for the 2018 Print Council Annual Commission and this was also displayed at the Print Council Stand. (Congratulations Jo!). The high standard of works on paper, artist books and prints were impressive indeed. Some of the exhibitors’ works may be seen at this link.

In addition to the works, it was great catching up with many printmakers including Jacqueline Aust from New Zealand who was an Artist in residence at Umbrella last year, plus making new acquaintances in the Printmaking world. Having USAG members, Hannah Murray, Lauren Carter and Gabriel Smith drop in too was excellent! As Hannah noted, was almost an Umbrella/USAG family gathering. Sandi attended some of the Printmaking workshops on offer at various times. These workshops included intaglio, book binding, screen printing, mokuhangi Polymorphic monotypes, solar plate and stenciling. We also attended the Paper Contemporary Conversations, a series of mini forums by curators and printmakers (in fact, on our way somewhere else and not knowing it was on, Sandi and I were press ganged by Akky for the first one). After that we missed none. Sandi and I also attended the Print Council meeting on Saturday 15th.

Needless to say, Sandi and I were a little worn out by the Sunday, collapsing onto a plane to Townsville. However, it was a great experience and I would certainly recommend a trip down to the 2019 Sydney Art fair. (and perhaps to consider a booth in Paper Contemporary).

Jill O’Sullivan

Links to works in the Art fair