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Art Car Boot Fair’s Charming Baker: “Everyone should be able to own a piece of art”

The Art Car Boot Fair, which returns to The Workshop on Lambeth High Street on Sunday December 1st, aims to make art accessible to all. As artist Charming Baker, who is selling a new limited-edition run at the Fair, puts it: “One of the great things about the ACBF is that it’s accessible. People shouldn’t feel excluded from art’s ideas, or its message, or even from owning a piece.”

The whole novelty of the Fair is that all the artists are invited (you can't buy a pitch) with up and coming artists pitching up alongside more established creatives like Charming, whose exhibitions have featured at the New York Studio Gallery, Soho Beach House Miami and Redchurch Street Gallery London.

But established names are encouraged to keep prices low, so first time buyers and art fans across all budgets can take something home with them. As Charming explains: “You can buy something simply because you like it and not worry about your investment.”

Ahead of the Fair, Charming speaks to Run-Riot about what inspired the piece he’s selling at this year’s event, how we make art appeal to wider audiences and why he isn’t a rampant social media user ("no one gives a f*ck about my opinion on every current event that happens").

Adam Bloodworth: Hi Charming. The Art Car Boot Fair is an intriguing idea, do you think people that don't know much about art would still find inspiration there?

Charming Baker: The ACBF is exactly where they should go. The artists range from young, emerging artists to very well-known, established artists, all selling work especially made for the day at an affordable price. You can buy something simply because you like it and not worry about your investment, or tap into the art market for certain artists you might not normally be able to afford.

Adam: Tell us about The Donkey Drawing, the limited-edition artwork you’ve made for the event.

Charming: Pandas, rabbits, birds and now donkeys – I get a bit obsessive. A while back I passed a donkey that had its ear pushed forward and it reminded me of a unicorn. The run for the ABCF is based on a larger piece of a donkey as a unicorn with sub-title OVERLOOKING THE THINGS WE HAVE FOR THE THINGS WE HAVE NOT.

If you found a unicorn, no matter how beautiful it was, it would still shit on your shoes. Donkeys are funny things. They are common, not as beautiful as a horse, looked down upon in many ways, like the boys turning into asses in Pinocchio, yet they really give themselves, and people care for them: there are donkey sanctuaries everywhere. They even have the mark of the cross on their back.  Really, who doesn’t love a donkey at Christmas?

Adam: Have you ever bought from the Art Car Boot Fair? If so, what took your fancy?

Charming: Last summer I took my 11 year old daughter to the ACBF. She found a print that she really loved and it turned out to be by Jess Wilson, a friend of mine. It’s now hanging in my daughter’s room and she often tells me how much she loves it and that she ‘chose well.’ I think she’s pretty proud to own her own piece of art.

Adam: Through initiatives like Art Upcycle, it seems like you're trying to make art feel less stuffy and more approachable.

Charming: Definitely. Although I started drawing and making things from a very young age, growing up in Yorkshire I’d never been to an art gallery until I was 15 when I was invited to go with the A Level students to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to see the Henry Moore sculptures. It was an experience that still stays with me. I think Art can speak to all people on different levels and for different reasons. People shouldn’t feel excluded from its ideas, or its message, or even from owning a piece. That’s one of the great things about the ACBF, its accessible.

Adam: In the video on your website you say that art should engage you, but shouldn't necessarily entertain you. Do you think the big misconception about art, then, is that it should entertain you?

Charming: Actually, I’ve said that at the very least, I hope my art entertains. Engagement can come in many forms.  Some art will entertain, some will make you angry, disturbed, but it should stir something inside, spark something.  As long as it gets you to feel something, then it is worth looking at.

Adam: And if art is there to engage you, how do we win over new audiences unfamiliar with art?

Charming: If it’s good, you can win over anyone.

Adam: You use art as a means of trying to change the world, as a way of addressing "fear," as you put it.. What's concerning you right now, and how are you responding artistically?

Charming: Nothing I make is going to solve world peace. I don’t think I am changing the world at all, but I am commenting on it. I don’t really use social media in the way most do today because I don’t think anyone gives a fuck about my opinion on every current event that happens, or every post that someone else has made. But I will take an everyday image or object and twist it, bend it, break it, turn it on its head and distort it so that you have to look at it in a different way. I think we all could take a step back and look at our lives or the world from a different angle. Much of my work is about life, love, death and fear. These are things we all share, what connects us, what makes us feel we are not alone.  As for what is concerning me right now? Quantum entanglement.

Adam: Can you describe your perfect day of art in London, or recommend one to our readers who've got a day to get stuck in?

Charming: The national galleries in London are great for being able to dive in and out. I find myself going to them to see specific collections. I love the John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields for its madness and for its room of Hogarth’s. The V&A has a room upstairs full of Constable oil sketches, the National Gallery has Canaletto’s Stonemason’s Yard, and right at the top if the escalator as you go in to the National Portrait Gallery there are some absolutely beautiful Tudor portraits. But if I was going to spend a day in a gallery I’d probably go to the old Tate, the Tate Britain, not only because of the mix of pictures, but it’s a beautiful building to be in.

Adam: I'm going to go there, sorry! What do you think Brexit has done for British art, and how might you sum up the affect it has had on our arts scene?

Charming: I am so over Brexit.

Charming Baker: charmingbaker.com | @Charmingbstudio

Art Car Boot Fair: Prêt-à-Accrocher
14:00, Sunday 01 December
at The Workshop
Tickets and info: www.artcarbootfair.com