Inspired by an event in the mid-90s called A Fete Worse Than Death organised by the late and incorrigible Joshua Compston, the Art Car Boot Fair on Lambeth High Street is a fully fledged creative, irreverent get together.
It’s worth taking a moment to introduce Joshua Compston. Born in Putney, Compston studied Art Foundation at Camberwell School of Art and then History of Art at the Courtauld. His passion for the work of living artists rather than masterworks of the dead created a conflict with his teachers but in spite this, he still managed to initiate what is now known as The East Wing Biennial at the Courtauld Institute, in which contemporary paintings are exhibited on loan.
At the age of 22 he opened his first gallery in a semi-derelict Shoreditch and began mixing with the Young British Artists movement, having a vision that social and urban regeneration could be achieved through creative communities. A Fete Worse Than Death and The Hanging Picnic in Hoxton Square were both summer fetes devised to trigger societal change. Tragically Compston died as a result of using Ether at his Shoreditch gallery, aged just 25.
“buyers meet and barter
with their favourite artists
Fast forward to 2018, and out of Hoxton Square we now have The White Cube Gallery and a set of artists that have changed the face of the art world in this country and well beyond. Another, more earthy and fun legacy is the annual Art Car Boot Fair on Lambeth High Street. Artists show up in person to flog their specially made just-for-the-day wares. The aim is to run it just like a club where all participants are invited by the organisers or recommended by other ‘booters’ and, unlike any other art fair, there’s no financial transaction between the artist and the organisers. It’s an extraordinary event in which buyers meet and barter with their favourite artists who simply show up and take what they make.
For the first time ever there will also be ‘Flash Sales’ online, partnering with Vero (the ad-free social network) putting super-desirable artworks available to buy online every Sunday throughout December. Details will be announced on social media and via the Art Car Boot Fair newsletter a few days in advance of each sale.
As well as affordable gifts and quirky works created live costing less than a fiver, there will be plenty of serious, larger pieces with price tags into the thousands of pounds for those with deeper pockets.
It’s now in its fifteenth year and will be bringing together more than 80 renowned artists for their first ‘Christmas Wrap Party’ in the heart of Vauxhall’s new gallery district on Sunday 9 December.