NOW a permanent fixture on the capital’s art scene, the seventh annual Art on Paper Fair will be held from February 3 to 6 at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7. It will be opened at noon on the 3rd by one of last year’s more colourful characters, Spectator editor, and lapsed Tory shadow spokesman for the Arts, Boris Johnson.
Produced by Gay Hutson and Angela Wynn, the team who for 18 years have also brought us the 20/21 British Art Fair, the Paper show has proved, perhaps, a somewhat unlikely success. The organisers' own British art fair was well established and there has long been a dedicated watercolours and drawings fair in the West End.
However, the event took off and became a favourite of many, not just because of the huge variety of stock on offer, but also because so much of it was affordable. Not as upmarket and focused as the other watercolours fair, Art on Paper does pull in new buyers. And with prices starting at around £50, with much under £300, it is a place where almost everyone can shop.
Watercolours are, of course, a strong feature of Art on Paper but not overwhelmingly so. Old Master drawings, original prints, photography and sculpture (allowed to provide a respite from the two-dimensional art) of diverse styles and periods will also be offered by some 50 dealers from the UK, France, Italy and Poland.
Traditional 19th century watercolours contrast with lithographs by the likes of Jeff Koons and Warhol and a large selection of screenprints by that West Country national treasure Beryl Cook, whose work will appear on the stand of London's Portal Gallery.
Expect plenty of Modern British by William Roberts, Paul Nash, Terry Frost, John Piper and others, and more up-to-date British works by Damien Hirst and pop artist Allen Jones.
Last year, Caroline Blunden from Battersea introduced a new dimension with contemporary Chinese art and this year Fulham's Hanga Ten brings 19th and 20th century Japanese drawings, prints and woodcuts from some of Japan's leading artists.
There may be much readily affordable, but there are also works costing many thousands.
Everything is strictly vetted under the eye of chairman Anthony Lester, who says: "I feel very strongly that buyers should be able to purchase in complete confidence. Accurate labelling is particularly important in the case of prints, where factors such as edition numbers and whether first or later printings, can have a significant effect on value."
This year, like last, The Art on Paper Fair runs head-to-head with the Watercolours and Drawings Fair, which moves from the Park Lane Hotel to the Royal Academy, Burlington Gardens.
I will preview the watercolours fair next week and, although both organisers tend to say their events are complementary rather than in competition, I bet they wish they were farther apart.
Admission to The Art on Paper Fair is £5.