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City Weekend

Art improves your mood, says founder of Affordable Art Fair ahead of Hong Kong show

Since establishing the fair in 1999, Will Ramsay has been on a mission to improve people’s lives through art and has contributed more than HK$9 million in support for emerging artists

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 March, 2018, 12:02pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 March, 2018, 12:02pm

When it comes to dealing with stress, some choose to exercise, others may opt for a short getaway, while for Will Ramsay, it’s art.

“For me, it’s about being moved by art and how a certain piece of art work changes your mood,”

says Ramsay, the founder of Affordable Art Fair. “It could be the humour in the art, maybe a memory that is evoked or just something that is inspiring. When you allow your brain to relax, it will make you think differently and certainly, I find as an entrepreneur, if I get out of work and ease my mind to think of other things, it helps me to think creatively which helps my business.”

It’s been proven that art is beneficial to our psychological well-being, whether it be dancing, playing music or just simple doodles on the side of a notebook.

While it may not be the only reason behind someone’s smile, it has been a tremendous source of happiness in the 47-year-old’s life.

Having spent most of his time roaming around art galleries, there were times when Ramsay felt he wasn’t being taken seriously.

“In my early 20s, I used to go around galleries and I felt I wasn’t being catered for as a customer of the future and I thought, this is so wrong to not be able to welcome people in who are interested.

“You go into a gallery and there would be no one saying good morning to you and no one to offer help to you. You may be scared to ask them for help so they should have the information on the wall so you wouldn’t have to go up to ask them and have an artsy conversation that would feel like death.”

With that thought in mind, he founded the Affordable Art Fair in London back in 1999, stripping away the reputation of expensive art works and exclusive shows, creating a platform for those with little knowledge in the field to appreciate art at affordable prices – ranging from HK$1,000 (US$127) to HK$100,000.

Ever since its establishment, Ramsay has set a charitable mission to improve people’s lives through art and over the past 20 years, his fairs have contributed more than HK$9 million in support for emerging artists, providing art education to entice people to fall in love with art.

Six years ago, the first fair of its kind debuted in the city, not only promoting the healing power of art but also raising awareness of mental well-being. It has since become an annual event.

“We live in a global rat race and there’s a need to rebalance and get that balance right between the work life and de-stressing, so I think in Hong Kong in particular, art plays a very important role in helping our mental health,” says Ramsay.

This year, Affordable Art Fair will present a ForArtsSake Friday event in May to support charities such as Sovereign Art Foundation and Joyful (Mental Health) Foundation, in the work they do including a series of workshops that use techniques to keep a healthy body and mind and introduce art as a way to relax and communicate through simple artistic expressions.

“With the upcoming event, we wanted to do something fun to go with the whole idea of art enriching lives, whether it’s actually purchasing an art work to put it up on the wall or taking time to experience art. We will have more than 1,000 artists, including a line-up of live performances by artists from around the globe,” says Stephanie Kelly, the director of Affordable Fair.

During the three-day event, artworks will be created on the spot and at least half of the proceeds from these products will go towards the two foundations.

The Affordable Art Show will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre May from 18-20.