Previously known as Brown’s Art Weekend, the event rebranded this year, retaining its relationship with the Albemarle Street hotel but now also partnering with the Royal Academy.
The weekend was based around the RA, intent on drumming up excitement for its 250th anniversary next year, where a free programme of talks and performances was hosted in its courtyard. From there, maps and programmes were distributed to attendees, listing the 60 galleries involved and giving details of their talks, tours and events all open to the public.
Anthony Brown of regular participant Connaught Brown was among those delivering a gallery talk, which was attended by a packed house.
“These visitors have never turned into clients,” he says, “but it’s nice to have people who might not otherwise feel comfortable going into galleries coming in and, who knows, they could become buyers in years to come.”
Sandy Mallet, gallery director of Messum’s, noted that it did have some mod Brit collectors coming through the doors, particularly with the Gallery HOP! on the opening night, a tour of various participating galleries.
“What we hadn’t anticipated was that people were coming with a buzz, moving from one art environment to another,” he said. “Even more than going around a fair, the weekend gives visitors a chance to get immersed in each gallery, perhaps even more so than they would at a fair.”
For Mallet and Brown, the event is a chance to refocus public attention on the area as a centre for the arts rather than simply a centre for fashion and luxury. It is also an opportunity to focus attention back to bricks-and-mortar.
“There is always a lot of concentration on the fairs,” Brown says, “But the galleries in this area are a sort of ongoing art fair.”