Whilst the glorious summer may be over, and along with it we said goodbye for another year to many of the wonderful Art Fairs in and around London. However this is one of the Art capitals of the world and there is always something new to explore.
This week the BAM! team braved the biting cold, and with hats and gloves firmly in place got out and about to visit London’s only contemporary print fair.
With over 350 specialist artists and exhibitors, Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair is the only fair in London to deal solely in contemporary printmaking, and the largest of its kind in the UK, set in the impressive former carriage factory at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.
Celebrating every aspect of printmaking – from etching and lithography, to woodblock and screen-printing, exciting and emerging talent sat alongside established practitioners and we were privileged to be able to see first hand the work of amazing creators such as Chris Ofili, Paula Rego and Norman Ackroyd RA.
There was an incredible range of prints for sale and we were able to chat with these talented exhibitors taking advantage of their unsurpassed knowledge to learn more about this unique craft. With a plethora of interactive demonstrations and workshops, and a programme of talks and tours we were able to take a peek into the incredible practice of printmaking. Check out the video below to see Ewa having her first go at print making! If any of our readers were considering starting a collection this would be a perfect platform to gain invaluable insight into what to look for. If you missed it this year, make a note in your diary to look out for it in 2019 – perhaps we’ll see you there!
Formed in 1956, the MFPA is an international, for-profit association wholly owned and run by disabled artists. The Association came into being when Erich Stegmann, a polio-stricken mouth painter, gathered together a small group of disabled artists with a common goal to make a living through their artistic efforts; to have a sense of self worth and pride that until then had eluded them.
To this day, the MFPA’s motto worldwide remains
“Self Help – Not Charity.”
Combining his creative abilities with business acumen, Stegmann established the MFPA as a co-operative organisation that reproduces the artists’ work mainly in the form of cards, calendars and books, helping them meet their financial needs. One of Stegmann’s main objectives was that the MFPA must never be regarded as a charity simply because its members are disabled. To Stegmann, the word “charity” was as abhorrent as the word “pity.”
The Association maintains that it is not a charity and does not qualify for charitable assistance.Over 60 years later and this small group has grown to be an international organisation more than 800 members in 78 countries. All of these talented artists paint with brushes held in their mouths or feet as a result of a disability sustained at birth or through an accident or illness that prohibits them from using their hands.Singapore is home to 15 of these amazing Artists and BAM! is extremely proud to showcase some of their beautiful paintings and share some of the stories behind these great creatives.
Rajinder was just 26 years old when a motorbike accident left him paralysed from the chest down, rendering him a complete tetraplegic. Prior to his accident Rajinder was training as a technician for a petrochemical company and afterwards tried to continue working in telemarketing but the inability to move his hands made it impossible. Having always had a flair for the arts, Rajinder took the plunge, picked up a brush with his mouth and started to paint. He felt absolute joy as he began to create, and this joy expresses itself in all his beautiful artwork. Rajinder has been with the MPFA for 12 years now and credits them with providing him with an opportunity to forge a career as an Artist.
After a car accident left Zhang paralysed from her shoulders down, this former Chinese language teacher resolved not to allow herself to sink into a state of depression but instead, to move onwards and upwards and create a new and different life for herself. She started to hold a brush between her teeth and paint. It was tremendously difficult for her at the beginning and suffering regular dizzy spells meant she was unable to steady the brush. However, Kaini was determined to succeed and with perseverance overcame all the odds to become a very successful artist. “My paintings are colourful and cheerful” she explains of her work, “They reflect my life. I want my art works to inspire others to be courageous and optimistic.”
Kaini is currently working for the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artist Worldwide, striving to change society’s perceptions of physically challenged citizens such as herself. Her dream is to one day have a solo exhibition.
Aaron Yeo Kwok Chian
Aaron was born on 21 January 1979. On 12 November 2006 he was involved in a motorbike accident on his way home from work, sustaining spinal injuries which changed his life forever. For a long time after his hospital stay he did not know what to do until he met another tetraplegic, Gilbert Tan Yue Liang, who introduced him to mouth painting. In painting he has discovered a hidden talent that he pursues with a passion and being a part of the MPFA, means he is able to earn a living and not be a financial burden to his family.
Raymond was born in 1965 and as an only son, his family had high hopes of him continuing to run the family drinks stall business. A fateful day in August 1993 was to change all this. Raymond was travelling back from dinner with friends in a car that was hit by a taxi. The car over turned and Raymond was left paralysed from the chest down. Raymond was married with a young son and was surrounded by a supportive extended family who helped him accept the drastic changes to his life. However, it took him almost 17 years after the accident to work through his confusion and realize that he could do something to help his family financially and not to be a burden to them. From then on, his interest in the arts started to blossom. Using the help of YouTube videos he taught himself how to paint, learning to control the brush with his mouth. In 2011 Raymond joined the MFPA and has never looked back. In 2017 he joined us at the official launch of BAM! delighting our guests with a live demonstration of how he creates his beautiful paintings.
In 1982, at just 20 years old, Daniel met with a tragic car accident which left him paralyzed from his neck downwards. For the next 25 years Daniel relied on the help of his family for both emotional and financial help. However, all this was to change when in 2009 some friends introduced him to MFPA and presented him with a challenge – to paint by mouth! The complete loss of all his finger movements meant that wielding anything with his hands was an impossible feat but the idea of being able to create something of artistic value intrigued him and he persevered in his artistic endeavours. Despite the obvious difficulties, Daniel found painting to be therapeutic providing welcome relief from the endless television programmes, which often prove to be the only available pastime to those largely confined to bed. With the help of friends and family, Daniel was able to join painting sessions and grew to be an impressive mouth painter. Today he is an inspiring Artist with real meaning and purpose to his life.
Christina was born in 1972 and before a tragic car accident in 2005 left her paralaysed from the chest down, she enjoyed her career as a Prison Office. The accident in Malaysia was so severe that Doctors told Christina she would be permanently disabled.
Refusing to be defined by her new disabilities, Christina was determined to forge a new life for herself and got to know a group of friends who all painted with their mouths. Christina was intrigued and wanted to know more. Prior to her accident she had no real interest in the arts, but life had now changed so she picked up a brush and with steely determination taught herself to be a skilled painter. She was recognised by MFPA as a Student Member in March 2012 and today Christina’s work can be seen all over Singapore including on BAM! In 2017, Christina was also present at our official launch and we proudly watched her live demonstration where she created a special piece for the BAM! auction.
We’d like to introduce you to BAM! Artist Winnie Wong. Winnie was born in Hong Kong and fell in love with drawing and painting at the tender age of five. Being determined to pursue her passion, in 2017 she made the brave move to leave an amazing corporate career in Singapore to venture into unknown territory – that of striving to become an independent, aspiring artist.
As well as exhibiting her work publicly and helping collectors in the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore, Winnie is also known for her artistic entrepreneurial spirit, describing herself as a “dynamic design thinking practitioner” who is keen to contribute back to society and to use her artistic talents to make a difference to people’s lives.
Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients. A design mindset is not problem-focused; it’s solution focused and action oriented towards creating a preferred future. Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user. To Winnie, it is also an approach and attitude which she applies to building both her work and her life.
Using Design Thinking, Winnie has created “Dialogue in Art” (https://dialogueinart.com/about-us/) which came into fruition as she observed how an increasing amount of people were turning to technology and social media as a temporary means of escape when faced with the daily stresses and struggles of life. Winnie believes that such behaviour discourages real dialogues from taking place and gradually influences people to conform to the norm as they look for solution from the outside world. Winnie’s aim is to create opportunities for people to open up their minds by encouraging authentic expression and celebrating differences.
Art is a powerful vehicle to connect people to their emotions. It drives dialogue effectively not only because it can be understood universally, but also because the creation of art externalises the unconsciousness and make thoughts visible. ‘Dialogue in Art’ aims to provide a safe place for people to explore emotional truth, find their authentic voices, and be inspired to be different by creating a pressure-free, friendly, and innovative experience through art.
These are three strongly held beliefs that Winnie injects into all her projects and if you want to read more about Winnie’s community collaborations, please visit her website. Too see her beautiful artwork, you just have to click on the BAM! app
Connecting to Emotions
Art is a powerful vehicle to connect people with their true emotions and make thoughts visible
Initiating a Conversation
Art invites people to talk and explore things that matter
Inspiring to be Different
Art encourages divergent thinking, authentic expression and celebrates differences
London has one of the most diverse and exciting art scenes in the world. Alongside New York, this is the capital of the 21st-century art world. In 2016, thanks almost exclusively to this vibrant and exciting city, the UK accounted for 21% of global art sales. As global sales amount to around US$56bn, this is certainly not a periphery industry!
Alongside the city’s museums, high end galleries, seasoned dealers and critics there are endless exhibitions, solo shows, and numerous seasonal fairs exhibiting a wide range of artwork and very often providing an opportunity for art lovers to meet and engage with the artists – which is always a bonus!
Eager to be a part of this cool scene, BAM!’s ambassadors have been out and about eager to meet with all the talent of established artists as well as the new, young and emerging. Whilst there’s still plenty more to come, here’s a round up of what we’ve been up to so far:-
Reading Art Festival
First off we headed to Reading where Art lovers and Artists could meet face to face, to browse, talk, admire and hopefully buy. Now a regular feature in Contemporary Art Fairs Calendar, – Reading was set up in 2010 and is now a prominent national arts event. Bringing together over 160 artists, printmakers, photographers, sculptors, ceramicists and selected galleries from the UK and Europe, they offer the very best in contemporary art.
With artwork on offer from £40 to £4,000 there was something for everyone and the accompanying workshops, demonstrations and wine tasting made it a full, fun art filled day.
As BAM! is all about community building and establishing mutually supportive relationships, the highlight of our day was seeing some of our very own BAM! artists in action, happily exhibiting their amazing artworks and engaging with the hundreds of visitors who had flocked to see them.
Pabeo Mixed Media Event
Our Brand Ambassadors were delighted to attend the opening night of the Pebeo Mixed Media Exhibition at The Menier Gallery. This competition attracted over 460 entrants from across the country and here we were privileged to see the work of the final selected 72. We also got to chat to the winner @cindylesman @suzonlagarde and @markzalton – hope to see your work on BAM! soon guys!
Parallax Art Fair
Billed as the most popular Art Fair of it’s kind in London, and now we know why! With over 200 independent exhibitors from around the world this was a non stop journey of discovery; an event for everyone with no barriers or expectations about how much you know about art. All the artists were happy to answer our ‘amateur’ questions and indeed the whole ethos of Parallax is to promote an egalitarian approach to art offering mutual encouragement to new and emerging artists as well as continuing support for those more established.
Great to see our very own BAM! Artist Yulia Lisle exhibiting – and, not suprisingly everyone one of her beautiful paintings sold. You can see more of Yulia’s work on BAM! but you’ll need to act fast!
The Glam Rock Years
Stewart Dalzell has been an enthusiastic supporter of BAM! since we launched last year, so of course we were delighted to reciprocate by popping along to the opening night of his new Ziggy Stardust exhibition of paintings at London’s Clerkenwell Gallery. The show, entitled “Icons – The Glam Rock Years” featured seven, large scale paintings all inspired by classic 1970’s glam rock albums – an era Stewart is passionate about. Fusing the painting styles of Picasso, bacon and De Kooning with his love of music, Stewart has created a visual ‘Greatist Hits’ of his favourite era in rock ‘n’ roll.
A big thank you to Stuart for allowing us to position a couple of BAM! triggers so visitors to the exhibition could try out BAM!’s augmented reality feature – great fun was had by all!
BUYING & SELLING ART ONLINE – THE CHALLENGES AND THE POSITIVE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY
In 2015, BAM!, a ground-breaking App enabling Artists to simply and cost effectively showcase their work to a global audience was just an idea.
Today, BAM! has attracted over 500 artists and hosts almost 3000 pieces of art. Using nothing more than the ubiquitous platform of the smart phone, BAM! connects Artists and Buyers in just a few simple steps. Critically BAM! eliminates the prejudicial commission structures associated with regular galleries that often prevent Artists from getting a fair price for their work.
In this article, we will look at the challenges this developing retail market faces and how advancing technology is helping to address these.
Online shopping has become a part of our everyday lives, with people becoming increasingly happy to buy more – and spend more – at the click of a button. The online Art market is predicted to grow by 8.4% in 2018 to approximately US$4.9B.
More and more people are visiting Art-buying platforms and are spending more time browsing these sites, but some buyers remain hesitant to buy Art over the Internet. As a visual medium, buyers are concerned that what you see isn’t necessarily what you get and the possibility that the Art you buy may not meet your expectations when you come to see it up close, remains a barrier.
Augmented Reality (AR) technology is expected to become more sophisticated in 2018 and is set to transform the Art market going a long way to overcoming this particular hurdle. Thinking ahead, the developers of BAM! integrated (AR) within the App and BAM! is one of the first online e-commerce platforms to have made this particular customer experience really simple to use. At the touch of an icon, buyers can see what artwork will look like on any wall in real time, with exact sizes and dimensions – a ‘try before you buy’ effect. This is set to reduce buyer remorse, and as technology advances it is expected that buyer’s expectations will not only be met, but even exceeded.
Further challenges present themselves to the online Art market when it comes to the fear of buying a fake. This fear factor remains a big hurdle because, with most online Art purchases tending to cost between £1,000 and £5,000 there’s a real financial consequence if you make a mistake.
However, with advancing technology, issues of provenance and authentication may soon become a thing of the past, if a potentially revolutionary solution is adopted as quickly by the Art world as it has been by the financial sector. BAM! is actively looking to find real-world applications for Blockchain, the technology behind the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, and Blockchain is fast emerging as the technology expected to have the most significant impact on online sales.
Blockchain could help keep track of a work of Art’s movements without relying on a paper-based system of recording provenance. With a networked digital ledger, all purchases will be logged with the information becoming decentralized and therefore not open to contest. No matter how many times a piece of Artwork is bought and sold, all purchases are documented and unalterable, creating a trusted provenance. For buyers, this means the entire history of a piece of Art would be accessible to view in a secure environment, similar to what we see in the UK with house purchases, i.e. UK’s land registry.
In 2018, the eldest millenials will turn 37 and their purchasing powers are just beginning to peak. However, these modern consumers also place great value on the ease of the online shopping experience so retailers will have to keep adapting fast to keep up with millennial preferences.
Delivery options, transparency of final price, the point at which a login must be created, faceted navigation and filtering are all functions which can have a detrimental effect on online sales if they do not meet customer expectations.
Great customer experiences are created by removing purchasing barriers; anything that may lead to ‘cart abandonment’. One of the biggest frustrations for shoppers is the inability to carry out cross device sales, i.e. beginning a purchase on a laptop and being able to finish it later, on another device. The development of retail Apps such as BAM! eliminates this frustration, as in most circumstances, a smart phone is a constant.
The phenomenon that is social media means that advertising costs have never been lower and, because of its power, independents retailers can develop a following at a relatively low cost if they have a product or service that people are passionate about. When it comes to Art, Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, and other messenger Apps have radically changed how Artists can interact with consumers and these platforms have facilitated a means by which the two sides can interact in real time. This ethos is very much evident on BAM!’s social platforms, as we believe that the best way to attract Buyers and Artists to our site is by cultivating a fun and exciting community.
Whilst creating a community, in today’s world, more than ever, data will drive retail decisions. Data’s role in retail decision-making will grow and forward-thinking retailers will have to keep exploring ways to collect and leverage data in their operations. By monitoring retail analytics, online platforms can connect with their customers in a meaningful way. By becoming aware of the tastes and preferences of their shoppers using Artificial Intelligence (AI), Retailers can use this information to make recommendations for future purchases. This is particularly important for Art sales where the demographic is made up of people from many different backgrounds, with many different Art preferences and with a varying range of buying power.
Buying and selling Art online is fun; it makes the world of Art available to everyone and overcomes the fear many of us have of visiting what we perceive to be as elite galleries. And whist there are still further challenges ahead, with the advancement of technology and the willingness of retailers to adopt it, smart operators should be set to see their share of this lucrative market grow at a rapid pace. For start-ups though, keeping pace with all the features and functionalities that are developing brings its own challenges when a sharp eye has to be maintained on keeping return on investment (ROI) under control.