Buyers were negotiating prices directly with the 150 exhibitors from 23 countries at Oxford’s inaugural show, as Marc West finds out

Have you ever dreamt of owning your own enviable art collection? Or, maybe you’re just looking for a little something to brighten up your living room? Either way, I’ve found just the place for the best selection of photographs, illustrations, paintings, sculpture and bespoke crafts.

With more than 150 exhibitors from 23 countries showcasing a wide variety of contemporary works for sale, the inaugural Oxford International Art Fair had me longing to take something home, but not have to dig too deep to do so. The organisers’ entrepreneurial approach gave collectors a unique opportunity to buy directly from the artist at an affordable price – and artists the means to bypass the middleman through one-on-one commission-free sales to buyers.

“Our concept is to connect art with art,” explains Joelle Dinnage, director of organisers Global Art Agency. “There’s no better way to see contemporary art from around the world than in a venue with personality in a city of culture.”

Oxfordshire-based creatives were well represented too alongside the best of the international and emerging talent on show. Keiran Stiles – who trained at the prestigious Falmouth School of Art – came “all the way” from his riverside studio at Folly Bridge to display his evocative abstractions of Cornwall’s rugged coastline and his work for this show comes from a trip to the Scilly Isles.

“I’m making paintings not of the landscape,” says Stiles “but, what the landscape feels like to be in. I want to try and capture the strangeness of the archipelago.”

For me, being able to meet artists like this personally, see them at work and hear the stories behind their creations is what really makes this event truly special.

If the success of this first outing is anything to go by, the event will no doubt return to Oxford Town Hall this time next year, so be sure to pencil it into your diary now and get saving the pennies for that must-have work from your new favourite artist.

For all details, visit

If, like me, you’re a real culture vulture and simply can’t get enough in your life, do take the time to check out the Turl Street Arts Festival. The students at the colleges of Jesus, Lincoln and Exeter are proud to present their annual week of exciting events – showcasing and celebrating the rich and diverse creative talents in and around one of the city’s most iconic streets.

From the grand opening concert to intimate poetry nights (and great coffee) at Missing Bean, indie film screenings at Oxford Hub and the not-to-be-missed joint Evensong finale at Exeter College Chapel, there really is something for everyone. This year’s event kicks off tonight with some great live music at The Cellar and runs until February 23.

Many events are free but be sure to check out the website in advance for all details at