How to buy art at the Manchester Art Fair

Manchester Art Fair

Manchester Art Fair returns to Manchester Central with The Manchester Contemporary on 17-19 November 2023. The ever popular art fair for the North is a uniquely diverse mix of acclaimed galleries and independent artists, with a rich programme of artist talks, panel discussions, performances and installations.

“When we launched Manchester Art Fair 15 years ago we set out to do something different and have produced an event that blurs the boundaries between the traditional and the contemporary, creating a friendly and unpretentious Northern art- buying experience,” said managing director Sophie Helm.

Sophie has shared some of her hints and tips on buying art to help you get the best experience from the fair.

Research reaps rewards

Use Manchester Art Fair’s online exhibitor list at to make a shortlist of stands you want to visit : select an image you like to view the gallery or artists details , and click on the website or social media platforms of any you’re intrigued by. We recommend noting down your shortlist by stand number, in numerical order, for ease of navigation on arrival.

You’re at the fair, shortlist in hand…

…and you’ve found a stand you’re interested in. Get the exhibitor to talk you through what’s on show: ask them to highlight any particularly unique pieces, or the artists they think are doing the most exciting work.

There are over 140 stands to explore

So knowing which you’re interested in returning to is paramount. Photographs of notable works, along with the stand’s sign, are an ideal record to review over lunch or a coffee. Just remember to ask the exhibitor’s permission first!

Even better, you can come and go as you please

A weekend ticket gives you access to both days of the fair, while preview tickets also allow entry to the Friday evening preview and the chance to come back over the weekend. Drop back in to catch any pieces you might have overlooked, or to return to something you’ve been mulling over.

The artist may be on the stand, but not always

Do check if the person you’re talking to is the creative behind the work. If not, and you’re interested in meeting them, see if they’re available.

Are you into an artist’s style, but not quite sold on a specific piece?

Exhibitors often keep additional work behind scenes. The key is to phrase this positively: you love the work and want to find something that’s a perfect fit. Ask whether they can show you more; if not, request a portfolio, a price list or ask about commissions to get something to suit your perfectly.

An artwork has caught your attention – what then?

Imagine it’s installed in pride of place, and your guests get curious. Find out how the piece was made – both the materials and techniques used. Is it part of a body of work or series? Were there any influences the artist was drawing on? If it’s been part of an exhibition, request the details to keep on file.

If there’s a piece you can’t stop thinking about

Understandably, you want to feel confident about what you’re buying. The most effective questions are: has the artist won any awards, appeared in any notable exhibitions or had any high-profile press coverage? Find out if their work is in any public or private collections, as this can boost the value of their output.

Find out as much as you can

You might also want to get an idea of the artist’s background, or whether they do any commercial work, as this can boost their profile. Some exhibitors will be able to tell you whether they’ve seen market value increases, either for specific pieces or across an artist’s portfolio.

Get it wrapped and take it home

Once you have made that decision to buy then the artist/gallerist will get it wrapped free of charge so you can take it home safely. Make sure you get your proof of purchase to hand in as you leave the fair so you will get free tickets to the fair in 2024.

Tickets are available now at and priced at £10 for a weekend ticket or £25 for the preview night. Tickets include access to a rich programme of artist talks, panel discussions, performances, and installations.

Immerse yourself in art on 17-19 November 2023 at Manchester Central. 

Special Offer: 100 free weekend tickets available with the code ‘BDNW’