Jeremy Astfalck of The Old Corkscrew is one of more than 70 dealers standing at The Winter Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, from October 31-November 5. For him, the fair in at Kensington Olympia is a chance to attract collectors and decorators from outside his native South Africa, even beyond the dates of the event.
That’s thanks to the online exposure that ‘Winter Olympia’ (and its sister fair in June) provides to participants.
The fairs’ websites keep exhibitor listings live year-round and that generates “a huge amount of online exposure”, Astfalck says.
“Being based in another country, this online publicity helps visitors to South Africa discover us long before they actually reach the town of Franschhoek.”
Now in its 27th year, Winter Olympia predates the internet, but organiser Clarion Events strives to enhance its traditional appeal with modern innovation.
This was demonstrated as recently as last week when fair director Mary Claire Boyd welcomed plans for redevelopment work to the event’s historic venue as “good news” for exhibitors and visitors alike.
In recent years, the fair’s brief has expanded to appeal not just to those academic collectors who come hunting specific pieces but also to designers and interior decorators.
Evidence of the widening audience can be found in the talks programme which includes one by Gilly Craft, president of the British Institute of Interior Design, on using art in healthcare design.
The fair also coincides with the beginning of Asian Art in London and some visitors might be drawn to a talk by Dr Nicole Chiang of the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath on Collecting the ‘Uncollectables’, which addresses the study and acquisition of less-fashionable objects.
Other talks will be given by William Palin, conservation director at the Royal Naval College, and Dr Gregory Votolato, curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Its spot in the calendar also positions it as a destination for conscientious Christmas shoppers.
John Joseph, who trades in jewellery, is based at Grays Antiques Centre and says that Olympia, his last fair of the year, is a chance to see customers “who like to sort out Christmas presents for their partners or friends and will visit us at fairs rather than at our weekday place in Grays”.
Among first-time exhibitors this year are vintage watch specialist Timewise and Burlington offering 19th and 20th century British and European paintings.
They join regulars such as Japanese Meiji period specialist Laura Bordignon and furniture dealer Patrick Sandberg Antiques.
As well as Astfalck, international exhibitors include jewellery designers Teresa Diniz from Portugal and Precious Floral of Belgium.