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Auckland Art Fair: A beginner's guide

You don’t need to be Jerry Saltz to appreciate some of New Zealand’s great artistic talent. Art lover Benn Jeffries does some investigating to bring us a beginner’s guide to the Auckland Art Fair.

Image courtesy of Auckland Art Fair

Tell me about it

The art world can be intimidating but you don’t need a monocle or a master’s degree in schmoozing to enjoy the Auckland Art Fair. The event hosts a fantastic selection of artists in a space that makes the art accessible to everyone. It focuses on the contemporary art conversation from around the wider Pacific Rim region and showcases some forty-one galleries who represent a broad range of artists. Last year saw an impressive ten thousand visitors through the front doors. One visitor I spoke to who’d been to a number art fairs around the world said the event stands out for its intimacy, atmosphere and well organised structure. The event is suitable for all ages, so head along for a great dose of art and culture.

CHINA IMPORT DIRECT, at Auckland Art Fair 2019 - a showcase for some of the best digital and video artists practicing today across China.

At the fair

  • The fair is divided into stalls where each gallery displays their chosen artists. Visitors are free to wander between stalls and purchase the works.

  • Alongside the main galleries there is also ‘Piki Mai: Up here ^^’, an area of the fair that features a selection of young galleries and artist run spaces. Here visitors are offered a snapshot of emerging artists.

  • The fair also offers food and wine stalls, artist talks, curator lead tours, children’s workshops, and a bookstore.

  • When wandering the fair, it’s a good idea to photograph or write down the particulars of the artworks that take your fancy. Record which gallery is displaying the work and the stall location. This way, once you have seen the whole fair you’ll be able to find the artworks you may want to purchase.

  • You’ll also want to be organised in terms of your schedule. Keep an eye on the program to figure out what time artists talks are on so you don’t miss out.

  • There will be art for most budgets and a wide variety of tastes but not all galleries will display their prices. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the works and inquire about prices if this is the case.

  • Galleries will vary in their purchasing arrangements and collection or delivery of artworks can be discussed with each gallery.

  • Art can also be purchased through ‘My Art’, a non-profit organisation which arranges interest free loans to buy art.

  • Make sure you pay a visit to all the galleries. Hunt around and find your gem.

Image- Tim Webby, Twin Peaks' Red Room, 'Dreams' exhibition, 2018, courtesy of Mercy Pictures.

Let’s buy it!

If you’re just starting your collection, editions are a great place to begin. Photographs, prints or small sculptures that are reproduced in small numbers are often priced better than an original piece and are still made by artists with good reputations.

Buying something for an investment isn’t the best idea. David Alsop, from Wellington’s Suite gallery, says it’s a complex business that no one can really predict. However, a contemporary art fair is a great place to uncover the latest trends and begin your collection.

There is art for most budgets. If you are not quite in the market for art, you can always buy one of the beautiful books that the book shop will be displaying - books that you don’t see in high-street bookshops.

Organisers of the event say you should simply purchase something because you love it and it speaks to you. For me, an art collection has the ability to trace your life and reflect your tastes. It should be personal and something you’d be proud to have in your home.

Image courtesy of Auckland Art Fair


Where: The Cloud Event Centre on Auckland’s Queen’s Wharf.

When: 2-5 May 2019, 10am-5pm Thursday/Friday, 11am-5pm Saturday/Sunday.

Tickets: From $30. Kids are free. Purchase through the Auckland Art Fair website.


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