Art fair experts share why hotels make good gallery spaces

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 May, 2013, 9:24am

Hotel art fairs are the antithesis of the "white cube" concept for a gallery space, and some consider it decidedly unfashionable. But proponents see it as a convenient and cost-efficient model.

Organisers of the Asia Contemporary Art Show, the Hong Kong Contemporary (HKC) Art Fair and Bank Art Fair all cite the advantage of having the same room used as exhibition space and accommodation for visiting gallery owners and artists.

"It can almost halve the cost for our overseas visitors," says Roger Lim of HKC.

Finding the right hotel isn't easy, with some managers opposed to hosting art fairs on their properties. After all, removing furniture to make space for art and the subsequent tidying up is daunting. Someone booking dozens of rooms also expects a big discount, organisers say, which also puts off some hotel chains.

But Mark Saunderson of the Asia Contemporary show says he has found some hotels that love the idea of a block sale of, in his case, four floors, twice a year.

"It's all down to the general manager. We were at the Grand Hyatt last year and would happily have returned, except the hotel is being renovated in phases. [Its] manager, Gordon Fuller, is an art collector himself and that makes a difference," he says.

Generally, supporters of hotel art fairs value the ease of access and the level of service provided by professionally trained staff.

Lim also finds hotel rooms better for showing prospective buyers what a work of art would look like when it's hanging on the wall.

Alternative venues are also hard to find. Link Artfair founder Tiziana Manca - who prefers wide, open spaces where adults and children can run freely - says it took her two years to find the right space (she is hosting the event on the waterfront in Kennedy Town this year).