Cluster Contemporary Art Fair

visitors to cluster contemporary looking at my painting Alleged Assault on Pax by Mars

Will people understand my paintings?

I showed three recent paintings at the Cluster Contemporary Art Fair, held in the wonderful Oxo Tower Wharf on London’s South Bank. Thanks to everyone who visited, and sorry if I didn’t have time to speak to all of you.
I was eager to show these paintings together; I wanted to gauge people’s reactions. When you work alone in your studio for months on end, it’s easy to start having nagging doubts: “Will they understand my paintings?” …or most commonly “WTF am I doing?”
I’m not too bothered if people don’t understand these works, as long as they engage with them, and actually take the time to look at them. That’s all I can hope for.

visitors to cluster contemporary looking at the gleaners by peter d'alessandri

“Surreal. The artist is on drugs”

Well, they certainly provoked a strong reaction, and mainly favourable. There were a few disparaging remarks, like “the artist must be on drugs” 🙂 Most of the visitors I spoke to were genuinely interested in the art on show, and I found it one of the most interesting events that I have taken part in.
I took part in this event as I wanted to put my recent work in front of a real audience. Social media is okay for sharing updates, but there really is no substitute for real people looking at the actual paintings.

the gleaners and men wrestling at cluster contemporary

The artist and the model

It was a nice surprise having the model with whom I worked on the painting “The Gleaners” turn up to see the show. I have mentioned in a previous post how I was at an impasse with that particular painting, unable to resolve some difficulties. And then I found Catarina, who was fascinated in the project from the start. There is something special about working with a good life-model, with whom you have an understanding. There is an exchange of ideas, and very quickly I had a solution for my problem painting. What I love about this type of collaboration is that the solution is not something that I could have imagined by myself – it was a product of the exercise of working with a model, working through different poses.

artist and model standing in front of the painting the gleaners
The artist and the model

This was the inaugural Cluster Contemporary Art Fair. There were certainly some teething problems, mainly related to their website and QR codes not working.
The show looked good, was nicely curated, and they attracted a reasonable crowd. Turn out was better than similar events I have attended at the same venue, and the visitors were genuinely interested in art, and weren’t just popping in to keep out of the rain.

Catarina’s website can be found here:


New Artist Fair

Being in the middle of a studio move, I’ve not had time to post anything about the New Artist Fair, in which I showed some work earlier this month.  This was the first time I have taken part in an art fair, and it was quite an education. After observing how the crowds interacted with the works, and seeing how the more experienced exhibitors displayed their work, I soon learned some valuable lessons about presentation and “product placement”.
As for this particular fair, I found it to be very well organised – the organisers are very friendly and obviously interested in Art. The pricing is reasonable, and at no stage did i feel that I was being ripped off – there were no hidden extras to surprise you on the day. The fair was very well attended on each of the three days, which shows just how well the organisers promote the event.

new artist fare

Despite all my praise, I am not sure if I would take part in it again. When I booked, I was told there were only 2m spaces left, which is more suited to smaller works. The biggest problem with having such a small space was that I couldn’t sit or stand in front of my work without obstructing the view of half my paintings. The fair enjoyed a healthy number of sales over the three days, but most of them will have been for lower value items under £250. The only piece I sold was a smaller portrait at under £200 – I feel that the £400-£500 prices of most of my work are not that attractive to impulse buyers. I would only consider taking part again if I had a larger selection of smaller works that I could offer at more affordable prices, and perhaps some prints and drawings.

My lasting impression from this event was the pleasure of meeting such a nice group of artists, who were all so friendly and helpful, and helped make the fair such an enjoyable experience. A special thanks to Sam Gare, Precious Murphy, Pete Fraser, Frances Bloomfield, Tolu Magbagbeola and Ruby Lewis, who have restored my faith in the artistic fraternity.