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16 Sep 2019

Manchester’s art scene is thriving – see what it’s all about at Manchester Art Fair

Louise Rhind-Tutt
When Manchester Art Fair launched in 2008, the city centre contained barely three commercial galleries, and it was very difficult for an uninitiated audience to actually buy art. A decade later, the scene is thriving and we’re rapidly becoming a city of art lovers. Manchester Art Fair has undoubtedly played a large part in the shift.

Originally published by I Love MCR on 16 September 2019

When Manchester Art Fair launched in 2008, the city centre contained barely three commercial galleries, and it was very difficult for an uninitiated audience to actually buy art. 

A decade later, the scene is thriving and we’re rapidly becoming a city of art lovers. Manchester Art Fair has undoubtedly played a large part in the shift.

The event has welcomed over 68,000 visitors over the years looking to buy modern and contemporary paintings, sculpture, photography and editioned prints. It has allowed thousands of Mancunians to fall in love with the experience of buying art – over £4.5m worth.

“We always knew that the art market in the North of England had huge potential and the increasing art sales every year show this to be true,” says fair director Sophie Helm.

The annual fair has also nurtured a new generation of artists. 

The event has provided Manchester School of Art and Salford Art School with the opportunity to show their student’s work in a professional fair setting, and also for individual students to work with the fair, gaining links to industry and contacts within galleries and the wider world, as well as valuable experience.

“As an artist one of the biggest challenges is reaching a broad audience,” says Lee Herring, a Cheshire based contemporary painter specialising in colourful and abstract landscapes who has exhibited at the fair for the past three years.

“Manchester Art Fair is a great platform for that, opening the door to new clients and galleries. It’s brilliant to have it here in the North West.”

And by providing a spotlight and shop window for galleries and artists’ studios to reach an audience, the fair has helped to generate a market that has encouraged other commercial galleries to flourish within the city. 

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