If many collectors are addicted to art fairs, Nina Miall, one of the most respected curators in Australia’s art scene, is more conflicted.

‘They are addictive,’ Miall says ‘There’s something incredibly energized about this congested space. There’s a real buzz there – especially if you are a collector and you are interested in buying something.’

‘But curators and artists are more circumspect. Conditions for the viewing the art aren’t always ideal at a fair. There is so much visual noise. They might introduce you to an artist that you can follow up, but they can be a bit superficial. They are not spaces for contemplation.’

Art fairs, like Art Basel or Sydney Contemporary, are a fact of life in the modern art world. They are a vital way for artists to find an audience for their work, and to exchange ideas. They are important for galleries because they give an opportunity to display works to a new audience.

‘Art fairs are all about the new, collectors are very keen to see new works so we give some priority to artists who want to create work especially for the fair. That’s always incredibly exciting to have a work premier for the first time.’

But Niall says it’s important to remember that they only give a taste. The real opportunity from fairs is in following up the pieces on display and the brilliant artists behind them.

‘First and foremost, there should be an immediate connection with the work.’ ‘You need to think about how works you collect fit with your collection, whether you are looking at an artist in depth and then about investability.’

But with that said, Miall recommends…

‘Trying to predict which artists will fly and who will fall is a kind of fool’s game, so look for the connection first.’

If you’d like to see more of Nina Miall’s work, be sure to check out the Sydney Contemporary Art Fair this month at Carriageworks.