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Two people at an art exhibition with artwork behind them

This year marks 10 years since I graduated from The University of Chester with a combined honours degree of Fine Art & Photography. While at University I met my future husband Michael Borkowsky, who had graduated with a Fine Art BA (Hons) degree in 2007. Because of the different times we attended University it meant that I studied at Kingsway Campus while Michael studied at the main campus, although fortunately for us, we both benefitted from being taught by the same lecturers.

Attending Kingsway Campus

I loved my time at university, and when visiting for my applicant day I found that everything being contained in one campus really appealed to me. I know that Kingsway has continued evolve since my time there (it was still pretty new in 2009), but to have access to photography studios, a dark room, workshops and artists’ studios all right next to one another was fantastic and really helped me to get the most out of my time there. My lecturers, and particularly my PAT Jeremy Turner were always very supportive of my ideas and ambitions and have continued to be so even up to the present day.

Post-Graduation Plans

Even while I was still studying, I began to look forward to what I would be doing next, and while at University I began to put plans together to host an art fair in Chester city centre, much to the approval of staff and the then head of faculty. Unfortunately, my original idea never quite got going at the time, but Chester is such a busy tourist city that it seemed a wasted opportunity not to pursue a major art event there. After graduating I moved back to my home city of Sheffield and began to work on exhibitions and open call opportunities with Michael. Open calls are exhibition opportunities that are open to the general public to apply to, and we held our first open call exhibition in 2014. It was such a great thing to do and meant so much to the artists involved that we have continued to organise exhibitions and opportunities ever since and we are passionate about providing opportunities to other artists, as well as pursuing our own fine art practice. In 2018 we also established our own annual exhibition and art prize The Fronteer Open, which happens in November each year. 

Fronteer Independent Art Fair

In 2017 we began to work under the name Fronteer. In 2020 (mid-pandemic) we opened our art gallery Fronteer Gallery in Sheffield, and we were already in talks with the University of Chester about hosting an art fair at their CASC Gallery in the Forum Shopping centre, right in the centre of Chester.

This August we are finally bringing our art fair to Chester, calling it Fronteer Independent Art Fair. The fair will run for 4 days over the August bank holiday weekend and will host around 25 small scale contemporary art exhibitions by artists from all around the UK. From all the events and exhibitions that we organise we already have a loyal following of artists who love to get involved in the things we do. We have also advertised the opportunity and attracted applications from artists we have never met before.

Making Things Happen For Yourself

I am so lucky to have a like-minded partner in Michael who is equally enthusiastic about making things happen. Everything we have achieved we have done for ourselves, with no outside funding. We are completely independent and have benefitted from lots of support which has mainly come about by us just asking people for help and advice. We network, email, tweet, message, meet, badger and ask, and most people are only too happy to offer advice where they can. There have been times when we have been told we are too ambitious, but we know our own capabilities and when we believe we can do something we have gone ahead and done it.

We are so excited to be working on Fronteer Independent Art Fair, having been inspired by the amazing art fairs they have taken part in as exhibitors ourselves in Europe. We want to bring the excitement and buzz of these fairs to the UK, and Chester is the perfect setting.

See You At The Art Fair!

We are currently looking for volunteers to help us deliver the art fair. If you are interested in getting involved, please get in touch with us.

Entry to Fronteer Independent Art Fair is free and visitors will be able to take in talks by the artists about their work as well as the opportunity to buy artwork and enjoy live art performances over the 4-day event. We are grateful for the continued support of the University of Chester. Even 10 years after graduating they still take an active interest in what we do. Chester is a great place to live and study and we hope that Fronteer Independent Art Fair will become a regular feature for the residents of Chester and beyond.

Sharon Mossbeck

Fronteer Independent Art Fair 26th - 29th August 2022

CASC Gallery, Forum Shopping Centre, Northgate Street, Chester

Private View 4-7.30pm Friday. Open 10am – 4pm Saturday – Monday.



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