Design Fair, Brighton @ The Dorset Pub

The Dorset Pub. Not usually a venue which I associate with the art scene in Brighton. The creativity is usually associated with the food and drink there, and the creative ways you can incubate a hangover. However, this week Smoke + Mirrors collective, created by Alice Leverton, are hosting a design fair at the Dorset to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK.

Usually, I am slightly cynical about fundraisers especially where artists are asked to donate work, receiving no proceeds from the sale at all. In my experience the work is quite weak and often very ‘twee’ pieces, appealing to a mature audience, often involving some kind of cupcake.

The inverse was true. The work was contemporary, very good and all incredibly reasonably priced meaning sales were inevitable. This really appealed, not just because all the money raised will go straight to these amazing charities, but on a wider level in introduces the concept of owning contemporary art to a youthful audience. Alice ensured that the artists gained exposure, as well as goodwill, with every piece clearly labelled and business cards available for interested parties.

A few personal highlights: The brilliantly childlike illustrations by Andy Felton couldn’t help but raise and smile, and really enjoyed the freedom of the drawing. There were some great contributions from Pippa Toole, Amy Clarke and Jen Bentley, though the whole exhibition will have something for everyone though.

With all the hard work organising the event, Smoke and Mirrors were rewarded with a packed audience for the evening, for which there was a brilliant launch night organised. With music from the haunting voice of Olivia Sebastianelli and a raffle with prizes donated from By The Level, Baroque Jewellers and Pear Shaped Apparel. After an very emotional and truly thankful speech from Alice, the evening ended with sales raising £623.82, hoping to raise £1000 by the end of the week.

It’s a great cause and a brilliant opportunity to get some good work too. On until Friday 14th of August.