Stephanie Kelly (AAFHK) believes that art makes a home

Stephanie Kelly

Art manifests itself in a multitude of ways for Stephanie Kelly. For her and her daughters, Elise, age six, and Clara, age three, a favourite book is Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit. Its colourful graphics combined with the quirky tales inject art into bedtime stories that help to foster the girls’ appreciation for the visual world. Kelly, a New Zealand native who has made Hong Kong her home for the past five years after living in London and Singapore, believes that art needs to be incorporated into everyday life. As fair director for Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong, she feels that the event held at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from May 19 to 21 is a great opportunity for anyone to get hooked on eye candy.

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Art can be found gracing most walls in Kelly’s Happy Valley home. At the entrance is a piece by Rebecca Jewel called Cape of the Pacific Voyages. Consisting of hand painted feathers, each bears the names and images of ships that sailed to the Pacific during the 18th and 19th centuries, bringing back a wealth of treasures to Europe. “This was our wedding gift,” Kelly notes proudly. Along with an oil on canvas by Justin Weeks flanked by two single armchairs courtesy of BoConcept, the supplier of furniture and accessories for the fair, above it hangs Rob Tucker’s Salty Olives on Rice Crackers (Inside). “Tucker is a New Zealand artist whose career I’ve been following. His art may reference ordinary things, but it is layered. When you buy art, you buy into a story or an idea. While you fall in love with a piece with your eyes, you become interested in the story behind it. Art is not a frivolous purchase; it’s something you keep for a lifetime.”

Stephanie Kelly

“I’ve always been a culture vulture,” laughs Kelly. “I started out as a marketing analyst in health care but would sneak out at lunch to explore galleries.” She has been with Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong since its first edition five years ago. “I was part of the team that launched the 2013 edition,” she notes. “We have had an overwhelming response and it is great to bring the affordable concept to a city equate with luxury. Everything at the fair is priced transparently at HK$1,000 to HK$100,000; typically HK$20,000 is the average spending. We get both first-time and experienced buyers. We are a global brand yet a local fair.”

Stephanie Kelly

This year’s Affordable Art Fair includes 110 galleries from Hong Kong and around the world, with 60 percent being Asian galleries. Special focus will be granted to young local artists under the age of 35 at Young Talent. TEDxWanchai will take place on May 20 with a salon titled Art. Who Cares? A children’s art studio encourages kids to take part in making their own art, while M+ Rover, the museum’s travelling creative studio, will be popping up in the fair’s Creative Hub. For novice buyers, an under HK$10,000 tour can introduce them to treasures that won’t break the bank.

For those with plans to visit the fair or to dive into collecting art for the first time, Kelly advises doing some homework. “Think about where you want to put the piece,” she prompts. “We offer an e-catalogue that you can browse virtually first. When you get to the fair, you should immerse yourself in it. I encourage you to get lost. Snap photos and put together a shortlist of your likes. Then go back to each gallery and ask questions. All the galleries are passionate about the artists they represent and they want to tell you their histories and stories. Buy a piece because you love it—trust your instincts.&rdquo
Stephanie Kelly

Stephanie Kelly

Once the pieces have been decided upon, Kelly recommends professional framing as Hong Kong’s high humidity and condensation can quickly ruin art. “The last thing you want is mould and warping,” she cautions. “As for hanging, we use cement wall hooks that can be hammered into the walls. We learned through trial and error, with some broken glass, that these work best here. After all, art is what makes a home—it is worth the effort to take care of it.” 

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