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A new exhibitor-led art fair has been launched to fill a gap in the calendar and offer an outlet for dealers working “beyond the high street”.

Connect – The Independent Art Fair will be held from January 29–February 2 at The Mall Galleries in London. It is pitched as a fully vetted but ‘affordable, mid-point fair’, designed to plug a void left by the recent closure of events such as the Works on Paper Fair (which closed last month) and Art Antiques London (which ceased in 2016).

At the helm is James Manning of Manning Fine Art, who stresses the importance of its status as an independent event. “Our difference will be in dispensing with the middleman,” he says. “We can offer competitive stand prices and, in turn, savings can be passed on to the buyer.”

It offers a chance to “bring in the dealers that now exist beyond the high street” whose businesses are run mainly online.

“This is an opportunity to meet people in central London for the majority of participants who don’t have a bricks and mortar space,” says 20th century British art specialist Freya Mitton, who has also signed up. “And it’s a chance to meet people face-to-face, so that you’re more than just a website to them.”

Limited contemporary

The fair will have no datelines but contemporary art will be confined to work by artists with an established secondary-market value and must comprise no more than 25% of each stand.

Around two-thirds of the stands were booked at the time of going to press and participating dealers so far include Sarah Colegrave, Matthew Hall, Ottocento and Guy Saunders.