Art Attack

21st October 2011

One of the ways in which an interior design scheme becomes entirely your own is by the art that you put on the walls. But how do you choose? AAF Hampstead’s fair director Romy Westwood shares her art buying tips…

Explore with an open mind…

Whether you’re visiting an art fair, exhibition, gallery or market, you never know what gems you might find. I relish a bargain, but I also enjoy investing in a piece of work that I love. Everyone has their own personal style – and often one person’s trash is another’s treasure, so don’t necessarily buy what other people tell you. Some of the artists I respect the most are Hieronymus Bosch, Francis Bacon and John Martin (whose current Apocalypse exhibition at Tate Britain is a must-see). I’ve been told I’ve got a very macabre art collection so there’s never one taste to suit all…but it is always a great talking point when hosting a dinner party!

Get inspired.

It’s great to see works of varying genres in situ to give you an idea of how art can adorn your home. Visit galleries, institutions and public buildings such as Charleston in Sussex or Kenwood House (situated on Hampstead Heath, and containing a superb collection of paintings and masterpieces). The more art you’re exposed to, the more your knowledge will grow and taste become refined.


The art industry is bursting with exceptionally interesting and knowledgeable folk and it’s a pleasure to meet people. Whether you’re at an art fair or private gallery, have a chat to the curator or gallerist. You shouldn’t feel intimidated and you don’t have to blag it – no question is a wrong question. If you’re interested in investing, it’s certainly the best way to gauge the artist’s career progression and their achievements but ultimately you’re the only expert on what you like.

Wear flat shoes!

Art fairs are brilliant, as there is so much variety but do inevitably involve a lot of walking, so make sure that you’ve got comfortable footwear and pace yourself. Picking out the perfect piece is something that can’t be rushed and should be enjoyable opposed to exhausting.

Once you've had a look round, take a break to refresh your senses. Have a glass of wine, chat to friends and then have another gander. My heart skipped a beat, and I knew instinctively I absolutely had to have the first piece of artwork I ever bought on that second look!

Go wild.

Don’t be afraid of mixing contemporary with traditional. My modern flat is filled with 50’s furniture and edgy work so whether your house is Victorian, Georgian or new, mix it up and really make a statement!

Luxe for less.

A good way to kick start your art collection is to buy original prints or work by emerging artists. The Affordable Art Fair Hampstead is a great place for picking up top artists like Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Polly Morgan, Tracey Emin and David Hockney... and with a ceiling price of £4,000 you’ll get way more bang for your buck whilst having a lot of fun doing it!

Just do it!

As a general rule you only get one chance at buying original art so if there’s something you have your heart set on, then go for it! If you’re worried about not having enough pennies, many of the galleries at the Affordable Art Fair are very accommodating and some are part of the Own Art Scheme so will allow you to pay in instalments. It may just be a pair of shoes or a round at the pub each month that you’ll have to miss out on, but it’s so worth it.

The Affordable Art Fair Hampstead takes place from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 October at the Lower Fairground Site, East Heath Rd, Hampstead Heath, London NW3 1TH
See for more information.

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