16 May 2013 Nicky Charlish
In the popular imagination - not always to be trusted - the car boot sale is a downmarket combination of the dowdy and the dodgy. It's a tatfest where, in some litter-strewn car park or iII-kempt playground, stuff that the neediest charity shop would reject is flogged alongside items of dubious provenance and all payments are cash only, mate.
But the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair is a world away from this seedy scenario. It's a one-day event in the heart of London's East End where over 70 hand-picked artists such as Gavin Turk, Matt Collishaw, Billy Childish (of traditionalist 'Stuckist' art group fame), fashion designer Pam Hogg and Sir Peter Blake (famous for his Sergeant Pepper record sleeve), will be selling art from their car boots. Anyone - with some dosh, of course - can become a collector of top-quality art. And that's not all. Food will be available from the likes of St Johns Bread and Wine and Leila's Shop, whilst there's a full programme of entertainment, including a retro variety show from the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club and a disco with celebrity DJs on the decks.
The Fair will remember departed figures, such as artist Angus Fairhurst and dandy Sebastian Horsley, who have graced it with their presence. And, for enthusiasts of the art world's bohemian past, there will be a re-creation of the (in)famous Soho Colony Room club - watering-hole for figures such as artist Francis Bacon, musician George Melly and crime novelist Derek Raymond - with writer Molly Parkin and star barman Dick Bradsell assuming the roles of its legendary sharp-tongued hosts Muriel Belcher and lan Board.
The Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair is not the first such venture. Twenty years ago, gallerist Joshua Compston - also, sadly, now no longer with us - organised the 'Fete Worse than Death' a trail-blazing art festival at the junction of Charlotte Road and Rivington Street in Shoreditch when the area was on the cusp of becoming hip. Meanwhile, the first Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair was held on Brighton Pier in 2003 and has gone from strength to strength.
But why does Vauxhall come into the picture? Because this famous motor firm is committed to championing style and design in the UK - vital when economic gloom is coupled with Britain's neglect of industrial modernisation and performance - and has been sponsoring the event for the past 10 years, ensuring that it has remained free for artists to participate in. (A line-up of vintage Vauxhall cars will be featured in the Fair).
Karen Ashton, the Fair's founder and curator, whets our appetite for the coming day: 'We'll be pushing the boot out for the maddest, eye-poppingly fabulous Vauxhall Art Car Booter to date as we celebrate ten years of fun, frivolity and astonishing art bargains. Anyone with a few quid in their pocket can become a collector for the day, and there's so much to do and see besides. The wonderful spirit of the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair gets a fresh injection every year with even more original, outlandish ideas packed into every event and 2013 will be no exception.' Indeed! This year there's a new feature: 10 lucky people will be given the chance to enter the fair 10 minutes before the frenzy begins in order to grab some art bargains, whilst there will be a chance for art school students - graduate or post-graduate - to 'pitch for a pitch'.
Let Sir Peter Blake have the final word: 'I've been involved in the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair since the first one 10 years ago and I'm always delighted to work with Vauxhall. I first read about the Vauxhall Art Car Boot fair in the paper and found out it was happening that day. I had created a limited edition of 30 wood engravings, so we found a box, went along and sold the lot. Since then I've been involved every year; it's a clever way to make art accessible and affordable to everyone. I always look forward to seeing what Gavin Turk will do on the day as well as Tracy Emin, Polly Morgan, Bob and Roberta Smith - it's a bit of a reunion every year!' Sir Peter is creating a special print to commemorate Vauxhall Motors 110 years in business, and all proceeds from the sale of the 110 limited edition works of art will go to Just For Kids Law, Kids Company and Help for Heroes. So go along - you can have all the fun of the fair, and get to help people too.
The Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair is from 12pm-6pm on Sunday, 9th June at Brick Lane Yard on the corner of Brick Lane and Buxton Street, London E1
Tickets; £5 - available on the door
For further information, please click here or follow @artcarbootfair /
@vauxhall for updates on artists, activities and exclusive pieces on offer this year.
Your inbox deserves a little culture! Get our weekly newsletter