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Sluice Art Fair - Breaking The Mould

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 41 months ago
Sluice Art Fair - Breaking The Mould
Another Unit, Maggie Madden & Jim Ricks. Image courtesy of the artist and Sluice Art Fair.
Another Unit, Maggie Madden & Jim Ricks. Image courtesy of the artist and Sluice Art Fair.
Aaron Williams, Double Portrait. Image courtesy of the artist and Sluice Art Fair.
Aaron Williams, Double Portrait. Image courtesy of the artist and Sluice Art Fair.
EC Davies, A Stitch In Time. Image courtesy of the artist and Sluice Art Fair.
EC Davies, A Stitch In Time. Image courtesy of the artist and Sluice Art Fair.
EC Davies, Head Angel. Image courtesy of the artist and Sluice Art Fair.
EC Davies, Head Angel. Image courtesy of the artist and Sluice Art Fair.
Sluice 2012. Photograph by Laura Mott.
Sluice 2012. Photograph by Laura Mott.
Miranda Pennell, Why Colonel Bunny Was Killed (still). Image courtesy of the artist and Sluice Art Fair.
Miranda Pennell, Why Colonel Bunny Was Killed (still). Image courtesy of the artist and Sluice Art Fair.

The week commencing 14 October is known in the art industry as 'Frieze week', as one of the world's largest art fairs and a whole host of collectors descend on London. But Frieze is not the only art fair in town that week and one that is trying to be a little different to the others is Sluice.

We spoke to one of the directors, Ben Street, to find out all about it:

How did Sluice Art Fair come about?

Sluice started in 2011 after Karl England, my fellow director of Sluice, was offered a space in central London during "Frieze week". I had curated Karl in a show before so he asked me to get involved and we decided to create a platform for the kind of art that you never see in a conventional art fair, either because the galleries involved can't afford the often high cost of participating or that their particular practice doesn't lend itself to the usual commercial format.

Sluice was in part born from boredom with the standardised art fair model, which we felt neither reflected all artistic practices nor felt accessible to the public.

What makes it stand out from other art fairs?

There is an atmosphere of inclusiveness and most importantly it's FREE to the public. It's an open plan display to avoid overt connotations of commercialism,  it has low participation fees, and there is a continuous education programme of workshops, lectures, performances and talks (all of which are free to the public).

In these ways Sluice is a real alternative to what an "art fair" means. Unlike others which charge high entry fees for both visitors and participating galleries, Sluice genuinely allows a window into artistic practice for the benefit of artists, the public, press and collectors. The focus is in the practice of art, not on selling objects. So in some ways it's not an art fair at all!

What types of galleries will be taking part?

This year we have moved away from the London-centric focus of 2011, with outstanding UK galleries from Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol and Southampton. European representatives from Athens and Barcelona, and a contingent of exciting emerging galleries from Brooklyn, New York. The only other way to experience and engage with these galleries' practices is to actually go there.  Most of them have never participated in an art fair and many of them never would. They are taking part in Sluice because of the inclusive and art-centric way it is run and displayed.

Sluice Art Fair is on at 47-49 Tanner Street, Bermondsey, SE1 3PL on 19 and 20 October. Admission is free.

Last Updated 05 October 2013