Tales of the Art Car Boot fair, of dogs and smiles and sketchbooks and…

Emma Harvey and Velma the pup (Art Car Boot Fair 2015)

Emma Harvey and Velma the pup (Art Car Boot Fair 2015)

We do rather enjoy taking part in the Art Car Boot Fair, both the out of town events, recently in places such as Liverpool, Folkestone and last year by the sea in Margate  (I do believe the destination is Hastings this year) and of course the main event in that delightfully unique car park in Brick Lane.

We really enjoy Brick Lane, the Art Car Boot Fair in Brick Lane is where art gets to let his or her hair down once a year, a day when we all come together and do things just a little differently.  We’ve had various artists join Emma and myself in our Cultivate “car boot” during the last four or five years that we’ve been taking part, it has been our pleasure to present art and share our space with artists such as My Dog Sighs, Julia Maddison, MOB, Alo, 616, Loolie Haberdashery, Michelle Mildenhall, Carne Griffiths and quite a few more. We like to keep our boot evolving, we like to refresh things, this year  Emma Harvey and I will be joined once more by the duo that is Quiet British Accent and for the first time at the Art Car Boor Fair by Mr Skeleton Cardboard.


Last year the was dogs, there’s always a theme to the Art Car Boot Fair, Hands is the thing for 2016, last year was dogs and so we invited All Dogs Matter to come share our Brick Lane Art Car Boot space.  All Dogs Matter are an excellent dog rescue and re-homing charity based in North London and as a result of inviting them to join us at the Art Car Boot Fair in 2015, we ended collaborating with them several times throughout the year, including that excellent day at the Victoria Park Dog show in East London at the end of last summer.

Velma in her new home

Velma in her new home

So when the very much appreciated invite  from the Art Car Boot Fair organisers came in this year we of course said yes and immediately started to plot. Thoughts turned to the fun of last year, what did happen to Velma in the end? Velma was the puppy who joined us at the Art Car Boot Fair last year, she oozed cuteness and understandably stole the show, but did she find a home as a result? She was clearly going to grow in to a big big dog, would she find a home? She’d need a lot of commitment.   Sp we called up All Dogs Matter last week to find out and we’re pleased to say that as a result of her appearance at the Art Car Boot Fair last year she was spotted and homed in July 2015 to a couple in Hounslow who already had a really sweet older male Staffie. 

That’s the great thing about the Art Car Boot Fair, the days are just so enjoyable, people chat, people explore art, people meet over a painting, friendships are formed around art, names are put to faces. The cynics go on about the meat market rather than the Meet market but once the initial rush and the first mad half hour of collectors and ebay flippers fighting for treasure from the bigger name artists is over the day is always a great one. Sure, it is about buying and selling art, silly to claim it isn’t, but it is about a lot more than just buying and selling art, the Art Car Boot Fair has become a big part of the social calendar and for some the only day of the year when they do get to engage with art, you don’t need to buy anything, you just need to come and enjoy it.   .  .

Emma Harvey and Velma the pup (Art Car Boot Fair 2015)

Emma Harvey and Velma the pup (Art Car Boot Fair 2015)

The first year I took part in the Art Car Boot Fair was 2011 (or was it 2010? Can’t remember now), spent the afternoon in the sun sitting on the hot tarmac painting live as part of the Resonance FM team (the days before Cultivate).  A young girl and her mum came and sat near me and just watched, and after a little encouragement from her mum the shy girl started talking and asking about art and for advise and what she should do to get in to art school because that, so she told me. was all she wanted to do. I guess she would have been about 12 at the time, her mum later wrote me a letter (yes, a proper letter on paper and such) thanking me for help and advise and saying how when would never have dared approach an artist at a gallery and how wonderful it was that i had bothered to talk to her daughter for so long at the Art Car Boot Fair.  The advise was for her to buy a sketch book and use it every day, I showed her mine (never go anywhere without my sketch book, I feel naked if I accidentally leave home without it). The letter was the last I heard of them (there was no address to reply to) but they appeared at the next Art Car Boot Fair with a sketchbook alive with colour and every year since mother and daughter have appeared with fresh sketchbooks.  I’m not going to embarrass her my naming her, she’ll be showing art with us one day soon I’m sure, last year she was talking in excited terms about A-levels and art and of course her sketchbook was full of drawings and paintings, she had a drawing in there by Peter Blake and comments and encouragement from other artists she had talked to.. You see this is the thing about the Art Car boot Fair, you just get to talk to people, hair is let down, people walk around with smiles on their faces, artists and art-explorers, sure you can buy a Tracey Emin piece for £20 is you get in the line early enough, but the best thing is people like Sir Peter Blake sticking around to chat all day, Brick Lane is always a pleasure to be involved in, people come up and just start talking to us artists, it isn’t like a gallery, last year someone brought along a brilliant homemade Guinness and chocolate cake as a gift, we love taking part in the Art Car Boot Fair..

two parts of the 2015 One Hundred Pieced Pieces with their buyers

two parts of the 2015 One Hundred Pieced Pieces with their buyers

And I do enjoy painting the one hundred pieced pieces every year, almost become a fixture for me now, each year I say that will be the last one, but it is always so much fun to paint the hundred pieces. There’s a certain pleasure in making the One Hundred Pieced Painting piece and selling each of the hundred pieces for just £1. I love the fact that parents let their kids buy them and then tell me that its their first bit of art, I love seeing the photos of cardboard pieces stuck behind pipes above cookers on kitchen walls, on bedroom walls, these pieces aren’t precious, but the engagement is, the smiles are, the photos of people with their pieces are precious…. I love being part of the Art Car Boot Fair, I think we all do as artists…. And so we’re excited to see that it is happening again this year and we’re excited to be invited to once again part again. Making, sharing and indeed selling art should be exciting, it should engaging, the Art Car Boot Fair is brilliantly engaging, the Art Car Boot Fair is where art lets his or her hair down and smiles all day, I for one can’t wait….  (SW)


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