The central aisle at the Olympia fair this month.

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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 last year.

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 fair."

A full report will appear in the Dealers' Dossier in next week's ATG

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By Anna Brady