|notfair| was founded in 2010 by artists Sam Leach and Tony Lloyd – who then invited writer Ashley Crawford to join their curatorial team – as a satellite event to the Melbourne Art Fair, in order to showcase independent artists who often do not fit the commercial mould and are overlooked and under-recognized. The initial grass roots event has grown into a well-known and popular event on the Australian arts calendar. Now in its 10th year |notfair| has launched many artists into successful careers, while the nature of the event is still unchanged: we do things differently.
|notfair| aims to be a low-cost event in order to ensure that the artists can secure a higher percentage of the sale price. This also ensures that |notfair| can continue to take risks, exhibit the unusual and the experimental. The glue that binds this, say the curators, is the choice of artists who carry integrity, talent and devotion to their craft while being unafraid to take risks. Most of our participating artists are independent and are not represented by a commercial gallery. |notfair| becomes a stage where artists, dealers, collectors and art lovers find each other and new relationships are formed.
Writing in The Age in 2016, Annabel Ross noted that: “Representing those without gallery representation, |notfair| is a platform for emerging and independent artists to exhibit their works. It’s the antithesis of trade art fairs such as the Melbourne Art Fair, dominated by galleries and gallery-backed artists.”
Our venue changes every time: we use vacant, often abandoned spaces like the former Nuttelex factory in Windsor that was transformed into a pop-up museum for our 2017 event. Our 2020 venue will be even more spectacular and more spacious; our 10th anniversary event will be our biggest event yet, enabling more artists to participate.
Two major art awards are connected to the event. The $5,000 non-acquisitive Arkley Award – established in honour of the great Howard Arkley – focusses on talent in painting and photography. The $5,000 non-acquisitive Anne Runhardt Art Award is dedicated to uncover and enable outstanding talent – experimental and thought provoking – deserving of a public profile. All participating artists of |notfair| are considered finalists of both awards.
Our entire team consists of volunteers who tirelessly contribute out of love for the arts. We would like to extend our gratitude to all of you who have helped us over the years to make |notfair| possible.
It was great to be part of Not Fair in 2010. I met a lot of artists who I had never met before and have kept in contact with many of them, it was definitely a positive way to engage with the Melbourne art scene. I hope that Not Fair continues as it provides a rare opportunity for emerging and under-represented artists to share their work outside of an institution, amongst peers and in a nurturing environment. It’s a really great opportunity for exposure and I think that will always be relevant despite the changes in the art industry.
Heidi Yardley 2017.
Participating in Not Fair allowed me to put my works before a wider audience than I had been able to in the past, from which, many local and interstate opportunities arose. The exposure also led to gallery representation in two states, as well as meeting people who are dedicated to growing the arts in Australia. Winning The Arkley Prize enabled me to buy materials and pay studio rent which was a welcome relief after working from a small desk at home. I hope Not Fair continues to offer unrepresented artists exposure to a critical audience. It is a unique opportunity to contribute to the broader artistic dialogue, and expand the careers of participating artists.
Simon Finn 2017.