ARTS & ANTIQUES FAIRS
Originally published in August 2018 in American in Britain Summer 2018
Attention Collectors!! If online shopping leaves you confused, spoiled for choice and feeling like a couch potato, it’s time to get up and head out to venues where you can find and touch your favourite collectibles. Even better—you can meet dealers who are always happy to discuss your collection and help to source those special items. So—it’s up and out to London’s exceptional array of art and antiques fairs.
ARTS & ANTIQUES FAIRS
By Abby Cronin
Attention Collectors!! If online shopping leaves you confused, spoiled for choice and feeling like a couch potato, it’s time to get up and head out to venues where you can find and touch your favourite collectibles. Even better—you can meet dealers who are always happy to discuss your collection and help to source those special items. So—it’s up and out to London’s exceptional array of art and antiques fairs. Several are held regularly throughout the year, so all you need to do is decide what you want to add to your collection and then find the fairs that fit the bill. Or—if you are ‘just curious’, then explore several fairs at your leisure. When you have that ‘aha’ moment, you know you have found ‘it’. The ‘hunt’ is always worth the effort. And you will learn far more about off-the-beaten-path London than you expected – plus the delight of adding a new item to your collection.
The sheer abundance of venues on London’s antiques calendar can be confusing. Check out scheduled fairs held all over town. Many are located in areas of the city you may not know about. If you are a novice when it comes to shopping for art and antiques, three of the established fairs catering for mid-range customers are discussed here. They attract a wide array of collectors keen to find items to add to their specialist collections. Now it’s time to take a journey around town and visit a few.
The Ally Pally Antiques Fair
Known as “The People’s Palace”, Alexandra Palace originally built in 1873. Perched on the top of a hill between Muswell Hill and Wood Green, there are spectacular wide panoramic views over London. The original purpose of the ‘palace’ was to serve as a public centre of recreation, education and entertainment. From 1936 to 1981, the BBC leased part of the building to use as the production and transmission centre for their new BBC television service. Today it remains as one of London’s most popular entertainment and sports venues and hosts four antiques and collectors fairs annually. The Antiques and Collectors Fair takes place inside the enormous hall pictured here. Dealers have ample space to display hand-picked, quality items. They offer a wide range of genuine vintage and antique goods. In recent years this fair also features ‘Pop Up Vintage Fairs’ which bring a fresh, younger audience to bric-a-brac and antique shopping. Comb through the Pop Up stalls with its mix of vintage ladies’ & menswear, jewellery and accessories, retro homeware together with mid-century collectables and curios. Find yourself immersed in learning about period ceramics sold by knowledgeable dealers. Oodles of stalls sell collections of old sheet music, theatre memorabilia, art books and so much more. (https://www.iacf.co.uk/alexandra-palace)
Adams Antiques Fairs
The Adams Antiques Fair is held in the Grade II listed Royal Horticultural Hall, a noted landmark built in 1904 in central London. Its red brick architectural features incorporate Arts and Crafts and Renaissance details. Find it on Everton Street SW1P 2PB opposite St Vincent’s Square. Since 1971, this monthly fair is one of the longest running Sunday fairs. Nearly 140 vendors from across the UK and Europe present an eclectic assortment of collectibles. While the Royal Horticultural Hall serves the antiques world well, it is also a venue for charity events and conferences.
There is no shortage of eye-watering items here. Browse amongst the vast inventory of decorative and antique pieces. Explore and handle a vast selection of tempting goods on dealers’ tables. The eclectic mix includes everything from fine jewellery, gold, silver, glass, rugs and porcelain and even an occasional item from classical antiquity. While you’re there, absorb the atmosphere of the chic streets of Westminster. This is one of London’s unique locations. Only a stone’s throw from Tate Britain and Westminster Cathedral, it’s a real insiders’ secret. With free parking on Vincent Square at weekends, there’s no excuse to skip this venue. Check the Sunday calendar dates and make it a day outing. After visiting the Tate you can pop into the fair, browse and select something from a remarkable range of collectibles. (www.adamsantiquesfairs.com)
Affordable Art Fair
The story behind the Affordable Art Fair centres on Will Ramsay, a young London-based entrepreneur with amazing vision and energy. He opened Will’s Art Warehouse in Parson’s Green, West London in 1966. And in October 1999, Ramsay took his vision a giant step forward. Seeking to democratise the art market, he launched the Affordable Art Fair in the Battersea Marquee with participating galleries from all over the UK. Original art by all living artists with prices fixed between £30 and £2400 drew in the crowds. Some 10,000 art enthusiasts turned up to browse and buy contemporary paintings, photographs, sculptures and prints at the first AAF. Today, nearly 20 years later, the Affordable Art Fair has not only become a permanent fixture on London’s art calendar, it has gone global! This year the AAF will be held in local and international galleries in 10 locations: from London, Bristol, New York, major European capitals from Amsterdam to Stockholm and Hong Kong and Singapore.
In recent years the AAF has morphed into a veritable creative smorgasbord of artistic performances, unique talks, tours, workshops, activities for children which take place in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. This is a fair which adds new features at each venue, something for all ages. The Spring 2018 AAF was located in the wide open spaces of Hampstead Heath (see photo). It was a magnet for regular visitors as well as people just strolling on the Heath. This remarkable venue featured curated art from over 118 galleries. Everything was easily accessible inside a stunning purpose-built marquee equipped with every modern comfort. Visitors could wander through the aisles at their leisure, stop to chat with dealers and learn about the exceptional array of contemporary art, prints, sculpture and ceramics for sale. An exhibition of art by recent graduates from the University of the Arts London was hung in the foyer. Everyone was encouraged to place a bid in the charity art auction for the North London Hospice. Predictably prices have risen over the years and this year they ranged from approximately£250 – £5000, still a very long way from high end galleries and auction houses. Don’t miss the next Affordable Art Fair to be held in the Battersea Evolution October 18-21 2018. (https://affordableartfair.com/)
Now collectors! It’s time to turn off that laptop, check the dates for a few of London’s fairs and indulge yourselves in the amazing world of art and antiques fairs. They never disappoint.
Get in Touch–I would love to hear from you to assist if you have queries regarding the decorative arts & arts heritage.
Photos courtesy of:
Adams Antiques Fairs
Affordable Art Fair