On a gorgeous sunny day in the heart of the East End, you could almost sense the buzz of excitement as you approached Brick Lane. This amplified as you paid the 1 pound entrance fee in the car park of ‘The Old Truman Brewery’ to enter the coolest London art event of the summer. We are talking about the ‘Art car boot fair’, the brain child of Karen Ashton and Helen Hayward who curate and produce an art extravaganza for the good of all mankind. Following on from the success of the 2004 event, the ‘Art car boot fair’ is an informal gathering of some of the hottest names in art who collectively sell their wares through the boot of a car (Sometimes even a stall!). Along with live performers, DJ’s, fashion designers and delightful gastro-organic food to complement the bottles of ice-cold beer, it really does create a spectacular carnival atmosphere for anyone and everyone.

Unfortunately, this secret has already been let out of the bag and with good intentions to arrive early and avoid the masses, the place was already in party mood with people trying to grab a bargain or just enjoy the atmosphere. From listening to an old boy desperately searching the Sarah Lucas stall, in the sole mission of purchasing an investment, I was amazed to find Sarah Lucas and Olivier Garbay already taking money hand over fist in an equivalent of some frenzied Piranha attack. It was quite amusing to observe the other stall holders as it appeared from the first instant, that the Lucas / Garbay stall would sell out within the first hour as a queue of customers handed over 20 pounds notes for the customized mugs. With the mug safely in the bag, it was time to meander casually through the other stalls for rich pickings.

It was at this point that I got commandeered to the ‘Omni’ stall for the ‘Omni Escalado Stakes’ – a minature horse race, with a most desirable T-shirt for 1st Place. Always one with an eye for a flutter, this stall provided endless fun at timely intervals during the day. With an overwhelming popularity gained last year, ‘Bob ‘n Chip’ continued to attract the punters with this crowd pleaser. Alas, a winning horse was not to be, so with the eloquent certificate for participation in hand, I moved towards the stage to catch some of the performance artists.

From the back of the audience, there seemed to be a throng of activity as ‘The Teasemaids’ took to the stage and provided a show that seemed to exemplify the special warning in the programme of events. It was, however a performance that brought justifiable applause from the crowd and one which endeared everyone to their act. Moving on through the spinning jewellery delights of Sarah Baker, the intriguing signage of Bob and Roberta Smith to the lucky dip of artistic boxes at ‘Truck Art’ it was with alarming worry that my financial limits were being stretched.

After reaching for my wallet, it was with disappointment that there appeared only 25 pounds remaining, as I had been eyeing up ‘The Fridge Show’ (30 pounds a pop), a collection of fridge magnets curated by Ian Dawson that included works by Marcus Harvey, Mark Titchner, Richard Woods, Partricia Ellis, Chantal Joffe and Ian Dawson. After some ‘Life of Brian’ haggling, I managed to acquire this fantastic collection of fridge magnets for the princely sum of 25 pounds. It was at this moment in time, that the thought occurred to me whether anyone had actually done any bartering with the Lucas / Garbay stall earlier in the day, as it appeared that those mugs sold so fast that there did not appear any opportunity to negotiate without being trampled on in the stampede.

As I am sure that the ‘Art Car Boot Fair’ will continue next year, it is with the soundest advice that if you choose to enter into this labyrinth of extravaganza, please make sure you bring ample money for the pleasure of all concerned. With too many deserving participants to mention, apologies to those omitted from this column as you all contributed to an excellent day out. Car boot fairs will just never be the same.

Julian Johnson