By , on 27-Apr-2010

An alternative artist’s fair called NotFair will make its debut in August to compete for the attention of collectors accustomed to the Melbourne Art Fair being the only game in town each two years.

Inspired by a trip to London for the Frieze Art Fair, artists Sam Leach and Tony Lloyd returned to Australia determined to create a satellite event similar to those overseas. Lloyd hopes that NotFair can generate an artistic buzz around Melbourne that would be complementary to the prestigious biennial fair.

Working with noted arts writer Ashley Crawford, 30 mainly young and emerging artists have been invited to participate on a selection criteria that favours innovation, conceptual strength and technical skill. This is the inversion of the traditional art fair model where organisers typically invite galleries but allow them to select the artists of their choice.

To flesh out the artists for NotFair Leach, Lloyd and Crawford sought nominations from an advisory panel of state and institutional gallery curators and writers. Amongst those selected are Mimi Kelly, Mark Rodda, Vito Manfredi and Brie Trenerry.

This is admittedly a Melbourne-centric bias but it is hoped that the alternative fair concept can be replicated interstate in the future.

Another point of difference is that NotFair will only charge a commission of 10% on artworks sold.  As a former gallery owner I realise that this is commercially unsound but I also believe it to be a gesture that will garner support on a purely symbolic level. Galleries are charging artists higher levels of commissions and greater amounts of overhead reimbursements than ever before. At the same time there seems to be a stasis in the types of artwork that commercial galleries are promoting, something NotFair is energetically challenging.

The alternative art fair also presents an opportunity to offer a model for the contract terms and conditions that should apply between galleries and their artists. Unlike the ACGA Code of Practice which asks for a separate trust account to hold only the net proceeds of sales less commission (which in my opinion only delays the payment to the artist), all of the sale proceeds from NotFair will be deposited to a trust account. From there the artist will be presented with a tax invoice from the art fair for its commission and will authorise this tax invoice to be deducted from the moneys held in trust so they can both be paid. The commission is then  transferred from the trust account to the operating account of NotFair for its own purposes.

This payment model is simple, fair and will simplify GST and other obligations such as the impending resale royalty scheme. As virtually no galleries operate in this manner it is also hoped that the artists involved in NotFair will be informed as to the way their moneys from artwork sales should be handled by their representatives.

NotFair will be staged at Wardlow Studios in Fitzroy from 4 to 8 August, an easy 10 minute walk and concurrent with the Melbourne Art Fair.   


Disclaimer:  Michael Fox is a Board Member and the Treasurer of NotFair. Contact details are below