Art London moves from its summer slot to autumn and also changes location for its eighth staging.
Since its launch in 1999, the fair has been held in June in a marquee off the King’s Road near Sloane Square, Chelsea, firstly at the Duke of York’s Headquarters then for the past three years at Burton’s Court, St Leonard’s Terrace.
This year it will run from October 6 to 10 and move just 150 yards south to a 60,000 sq-ft marquee in the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital, overlooking Chelsea Embankment. With an entrance on Royal Hospital Road, SW3, this is the site of the famous Chelsea Flower Show.
Serious planning issues have always been a problem for any tented event in Kensington and Chelsea and it became increasingly difficult for organiser Ralph Ward-Jackson to get assurance of any continuity at the Burton’s Court site.
The same is true of the old Duke of York’s venue and now the BADA Fair in late March is the only event left there – and even that long-established fixture has had its uncertainties regarding guarantees for the annual erection of a marquee.
Billed as a fair for classic Contemporary and Modern work, Art London was a surprising instant hit in the crowded June fairs season, and it rapidly became a welcome addition to the busiest period on the antiques calendar.
Although inexperienced when he launched his fair, Mr Ward-Jackson’s fresh approach, with a light, modern ambience and approachable, affordable stock, managed to attract the new, younger buyers so sought after in the fairs world.
When faced with a move, the organiser thought the most important characteristics of the fair to be preserved were a Chelsea location, where he has built up a strong local following, and the airy marquee.
Neither does he regret the new autumn slot and points out that while he was successful in June, the new dates are shortly after the 20/21 British Art Fair and just before the phenomenally successful Frieze fair.
He will also take the opportunity to freshen his fair with the ‘editing out’ of some lower-end exhibitors and the inclusion of some high-end West End galleries who were not able to show in June.
Expect a stronger representation of Modern British at the next Art London.
By David Moss