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THE Cotswolds Art & Antique Dealers’ Association has dubbed the sixth edition of its annual fair ‘The CADA Menagerie – Animals in Art and Antiques’. With ongoing tensions over the UK trade in antique ivory, CADA’s decision to give the fair an ‘animals’ theme this year could be seen as gently political.

Particularly so since the association’s chosen cause in 2017 is the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), a conservation charity focusing on the preservation of wetlands and various species.

But that’s only part of the story, says Cathy Hunt, dealer in oriental ceramics and chair of the CADA Art & Antique Fair.

“Our antiques dealers are passionate about conservation and wildlife,” she tells ATG, but the decision is informed partly by the desire to support a local charity (WWT is based in Slimbridge) as well as the wealth of inspiration animals provide for historic art and objects.

The fair, sponsored by Online Galleries and 1st Dibs, takes place in Blenheim Palace and runs from March 30-April 2, bringing together members from the association of Cotswold-based dealers.

It is not a large organisation and the event is a relatively smallscale affair, hosting just under 30 exhibitors arranged around the colonnade, campaign rooms and orangery of the palace.

Still, organiser Hunt says, thanks to the quality of the dealers and the grand setting, the fair has brought increasing visitor numbers year-onyear since it first opened. “People in the area wait for the fair,” she adds.

Among those returning to the event this year are WR Harvey bringing English furniture, specialist in 18th and 19th century British pottery John Howard, Legge Carpets and David Pickup offering English furniture and decorative items.

Howard says: “Whereas most people had seen figurative representations of lions, there were far fewer decorative examples of leopards, which were seen as interesting decorative animals with spots.” The figures together are priced at £3000.

As in past years, a contingent of dealers from outside CADA will appear as guest contributors.

These are silver dealer Mary Cooke Antiques, Joanna Booth with early sculpture, tapestries and drawings, historic medals specialist Timothy Millett, Shaw Edwards bringing early English oak furniture and carvings and portrait miniature dealer Cynthia Walmsley.

New exhibitors at the soldout fair are British pottery and porcelain specialist David Scriven and Mayflower Antiques bringing baroque and Renaissance silver, glass and metalware.

As well as these new faces, one returning exhibitor, Alex Puddy of Taddington-based Architectural Heritage, takes his first stand at the event since becoming CADA chairman at the end of last year (see box below left).

Animal crackers

If there was ever any doubt about this being a ‘menagerie’ fair, a look through the exhibitors’ highlights proves the abundance of animalrelated material around. Tapestries, diamond pendants, Chinese porcelain bowls, garden statues, tea caddies, mirrors and more feature, among other species, horses, dogs, hippos, ducks and bees.

Organisers point out that beasts and birds have served as inspiration from the earliest cave paintings and illuminated manuscripts to Victorian paintings of livestock and pets.

Which is all well and good, but dealers go to sell and, crucially, animals have a wide, inclusive appeal.

“We’re very excited about this year’s fair,” Hunt says. “An A-Z of animals in art will appeal to all ages. There will be affordable art on offer, all in a glorious setting.”