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Gay Hutson and Angela Wynn, who have organised this art fair – the first of its kind – since its launch in 1988 as The 20th Century British Art Fair, relocated to the Commonwealth Institute in 2002 after a decade at the Royal College, Kensington Gore because the college was due to close for rebuilding work.

However, because of funding problems that work has been put on hold indefinitely, so the college was pleased to welcome back the art fair when it had to relocate due to the impending sale of the Commonwealth Institute.

The Institute did not give its tenants much notice. Gay Hutson, who held her 2003 art fair at the Institute just three months ago, said she was told she could not use the venue again despite having signed a contract and paid a deposit (which has now been returned) for 2004.

The art fair organisers were lucky to find such a suitable alternative venue so quickly. It has been rumoured for some time that the Institute was up for sale, but it was only a few months ago that it was confirmed that the buildings were definitely on the market and that prospective buyers had been lined up.

The main buyers in the frame earlier in the autumn were reported to have no interest in hosting fairs, a blow for the London fairs scene since in its short career as a venue for upmarket shows, the Commonwealth Institute was universally praised as a stunning location.

However, on reflection, Gay Hutson told the Antiques Trade Gazette: “Although this is an unexpected turn of events, we feel that the Royal College, where the fair enjoyed considerable success during its 10-year tenure, is the best location for us.”

The move back has the full support of the fair’s advisory committee, which includes London dealers Peter Nahum and Julian Hartnoll.

The past two stagings of the 20/21 British Art Fair have been the most successful, catering directly for the increasing demand for such British art in a generally depressed market.
Richard Green, the country’s top art dealer, joined the 70 exhibitors at the fair last September and the list of exhibitors has grown increasingly more distinguished in recent years.

However, the number of standholders will have to be slightly smaller at the Royal College.