‘The Art World’s Most Exuberant Event’ – The Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair is Coming to Margate

This August Bank holiday, Margate will welcome the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair for the first time. Dubbed by the Sunday Times as ‘the art world’s most exuberant event’, it promises a full-bodied concoction of fun, frivolity, and astonishing art bargains.

On the back of its eleventh official fair held earlier this summer in Brick Lane, its usual East London spot, the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair will be parking up in Turner Contemporary’s car park, in Margate, the Kent seaside town formerly home to both Tracy Emin and J.M.W. Turner, and a location which has provided continued artistic inspiration.

Vic Reeves, comedian / artist at the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair, Folkestone, 2014 Image Courtesy of Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Vic Reeves, comedian / artist at the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair, Folkestone, 2014 | Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair

I recently spoke to the fair’s founder, curator Karen Ashton, and she enlightened me on the burgeoning art scene in Margate. Once the top seaside retreat for Victorian Londoners, now many London-based artists consider Margate a refuge in part due to larger studio spaces and a lively artistic locale.

Founders of the boot fair Karen Ashton [left] and sister Helen Hayward with limited edition Sir Peter Blake print. Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Founders of the boot fair Karen Ashton [left] and sister Helen Hayward with limited edition Sir Peter Blake print | Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Building upon its success in London, this coastal outing offers a chance for lots of artists living and working around Margate, including collaborations with Margate based independents, Resort, Crate and Limbo as well as many other individual artists and performers to mix with acclaimed regulars from the flagship London event like Tracey Emin, Gavin Turk, Polly Morgan, Sir Peter Blake and Mat Collishaw among others.

Gavin Turk at the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair, London, 2015  Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Gavin Turk at the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair, London, 2015 | Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Mat Collishaw, BLOWBACK, 2015 | Copyright Mat Collishaw - Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Mat Collishaw, BLOWBACK, 2015 | Copyright Mat Collishaw – Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
(Left to Right); Rose Blake; Sir Peter Blake and Chrissy Blake at the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair, London, 2015   | Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
(Left to Right); Rose Blake; Sir Peter Blake and Chrissy Blake at the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair, London, 2015 | Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair

It is this combination of big names, groups, emerging artists, and art students that make the fair such a unique and accessible event, one in which the artists do business directly with the public, pitching up to personally sell their original and limited edition works of art at authentically bargain prices. There’s something for every pocket with works typically on sale for £10 to £1,000, giving everyone the chance to be a collector for the day.

Emin International are bringing a selection of exciting works, including Tracy Emin’s print ‘Further Back To You,’ of which fifty editions are reserved exclusively for the fair in Margate. They are also holding a raffle, in which the grand prize will be an Artist proof of the edition ‘The Golden Mile,’ a work by Emin that is based on Margate’s beachfront (raffle tickets will only be £1 each with all proceeds going to the charities Just For Kids Law and the Hepatitis C Trust).

TRACEY EMIN, Further Back To You, 2014, Polymer, Gravure on 300gsm Somerset Paper, 50.8 x 42 cm, Edition of 150, £575 Inc VAT | Image courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Tracey Emin, Further Back To You, 2014, Polymer, Gravure on 300gsm Somerset Paper, 50.8 x 42 cm, Edition of 150, £575 Inc VAT | Copyright Emin International – Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Tracey Emin at her pitch with the Emin International Raffle | Image courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Tracey Emin at her pitch with the Emin International Raffle | Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Tracey Emin, The Golden Mile, 2012, Etching on 350gsm Hahnemuhle paper, 42.5 x 50 cm | Copyright Emin International - Image courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Tracey Emin, The Golden Mile, 2012, Etching on 350gsm Hahnemuhle paper, 42.5 x 50 cm | Copyright Emin International – Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair

A stunning line-up of vintage Vauxhall cars from its heritage collection (the PA Velox, Viva HA, Royale, Firenza and Ventora) for artists to use for their pitches will provide the backdrop to this ultimate car boot fair celebrating British art.

Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair

Founder, Karen Ashton, ran me through some of the fairs other features from a knitted swimsuit fashion parade, to an inky selfie machine, and sensational Sink the Pink drag acts! There is also an exciting line-up of outlandish performances on Richard Strange’s Cabaret Futura stage including a neo-punk girl band, fresh new stand-up and the Band of Holy Joy originally formed in 1984.

This really is an event for all ages; not even pets should feel left out as dogs have the chance to take part in The Dog in Boot photo shootI in a vintage Vauxhall Viva. This will be followed by a dog show judged by both dog and art experts along the seafront promenade, with special prizes including Most Inspiring Hound.

Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Image Courtesy of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair

After speaking to Karen Ashton about the inception of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair and how it has evolved since, it’s clear that while the event has become even more elaborate and enlarged it’s principles remain the same. Inspired in part by Joshua Compston’s ‘Fete Worse than Death’, and with the aim of re-introducing some fun and frivolity into a thriving but increasingly commercial London art scene; the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair really is a day when the art world lets its hair down, allowing all-comers to engage with art and artists in an informal way, offering some real art bargains at the same time!

Finger’s crossed the weather will be in our favour this Sunday, but even the darkest clouds will find it hard to dampen this whirlwind of creativity.

We’re coming to Margate! Art Car Boot Fair Trailer 2015 from Minky Productions on Vimeo.

– Harry Dougall

The Art Car Boot Fair | Margate Edition with Turner Contemporary supported by Vauxhall Motors and the Arts Council of England will take place on Bank Holiday Sunday, 30th August, 2015; Rendevous, Margate, Kent CT9 1HG; 12PM – 4PM; Admission: £3; Insider’s Tip: BE EARLY!

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