Since ‘The Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair’ was forced to close after 75 years in 2009, the ‘Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair’ has taken up the mantle of the grande dame of London’s summer fairs.
Now in its 41st year, 'Summer Olympia', as
it is affectionately known, once again heralds the start of
London's hectic June fairs season, running from June 6-16 in the
huge glass-ceilinged Grand Hall of West London's Olympia Exhibition
It may be a long-established and well-known
fixture for all levels of the trade but despite (or perhaps because
of) this, it has not been without controversy over the past few
There have been some contentious issues at
recent Olympia fairs and it is old news that some longstanding
participants were alienated by both the style of organising and
attempts made to change the character of the event.
But since then, show director Marie Claire
Boyd, of organisers Clarion Events, and her team have worked hard
to revitalise the fair and rekindle some of the goodwill lost,
largely through sticking to a policy of listening to what the
average dealer needs and wants from a fair in the current
This has proved a successful tactic,
particularly the amendment last year to accommodate dealers'
stretched wallets through reducing stand costs and offering a more
flexible range of stand sizes, while maintaining the same
presentation standards and stand build.
Stands on the balcony were done away with a
few years ago and now the fair extends, as last year, into a
further half-moon shape space at the back of the hall, where the
new, most affordable, size of stands are accommodated.
But, trade at fairs has been tricky for
several years now and so selling stands is perhaps tougher than
ever for all UK fair organisers, not least those compiling the more
expensive London events. Exhibitor numbers at all three major
London fairs are slightly down on last year, as some dealers are
choosing to save on costs by lying low at home until the economy
looks a little brighter.
Olympia is expecting around 175 exhibitors
this year, settling somewhere in the middle of the past two years
which saw 154 dealers in 2011 and around 200 last year.
Of those, a considerable number are new this
year, 23 to be exact with a further six returning after a
British-based newcomers include Lucy
Campbell (Contemporary art, London); Carmen
Pattinson (19th and 20th century ceramics, UK);
Giovanni Tomasso (European sculpture, West
Yorkshire); Sandy Stanley Jewellery (London);
The Jerram Gallery (Contemporary art, Sherborne);
Morgan Strickland Decorative Arts (Art Nouveau and
Deco, London); James Strang (20th century
decorative arts, Glasgow); R N Myers & Son
(period furniture) and Mayflower Antiques (16th
and 17th century antiques, Worcestershire).
This year, there will be a distinctly
Italianate flavour to the fair, as six Italy-based exhibitors join.
From Rome come Alessio Ponti Galleria d'Arte (19th
century paintings and works of art), Rita Tuci
(antique fireplaces and stoves), and Roberto Cocozza
Antichita (18th and 19th century European paintings,
furniture and works of art); from Tuscany Raffaello
Pernici (19th and 20th century ceramics); from
Milan, Salamon CC (20th century and
contemporary art) and from Genoa, Vivioli Arte
Antica (continental furniture, works of art, Old Masters
and Asian art).
Walpole Fine Arts (19th and
early 20th century paintings and sculpture) and Frederic
Got (contemporary art) also join from France.
A full list of all exhibitors can be found
• Finally, coinciding with the event again this year is the UK's
oldest book fair, the ABA'sInternational Antiquarian Book Fairfrom
June 13-15, just around the corner in Olympia's National Hall.