What a difference a year makes.
After the controversy of last year's London International
Fine Art Fair, this year the 38th Olympia International
Fine Art and Antiques Fair (June 9-19) made a concerted
attempt to go back to its roots, reverting to the old name and
notably without the involvement of David Lester.
Opinions can change overnight in this industry and, despite
scepticism before Olympia opened this year, the Thursday preview
was bustling with many dealers reporting strong sales, and a
positive atmosphere of goodwill certainly pervaded, even among
those who had not yet covered costs.
Stand rents had been reduced this year, contributing to the
healthy diversity of exhibitors, but presentation of the vast Grand
Hall had not been compromised and it looked every bit as good as
The eventual tally of 150 exhibitors meant that there was no
need for the balcony, which contributed to a more coherent layout
and generally proved a popular move.
Visitor numbers were up to 32,008, compared with 27,711 in 2010,
and, while this may not prove a profitable outing for the
organisers Clarion, it certainly made it clear that this is a fair
with a future.
The past few months have been a nervous time for organiser Chris
Gallon, Clarion's portfolio director, who was all too aware of how
crucial a successful fair was to restore confidence in the future
of this event.
Speaking after the fair closed, he commented: "The team has
worked very hard over the last year to produce a trading fair that
fits the dealers' needs and is right for the current marketplace.
It seems that this has paid off and we are delighted that the fair
was such a success.
"Two thirds of the exhibitors at this year's fair have already
rebooked and we are getting enquiries into stands for the 2012
A full report will appear in the Dealers' Dossier in
next week's ATG
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By Anna Brady