The Windsor Art & Antiques Fair runs from June 8-10 at the Royal Windsor Racecourse. So far, the prospect has been met with enthusiasm.
Fair director Caroline Penman told ATG: “I haven’t sold the stands so quickly for a new fair in many decades.” By the time it was widely announced in February, the exhibitor list was full with a total of 40 down to attend the inaugural staging.
“Then, once the tickets were in circulation, the public were also enthusiastically taking them so we had to reprint five times,” she said. “My weird worry now is that we will be too full.”
The dealers are to be spread out through two large permanent marquees, and if it gets tight inside there is an acre of lawn space for visitors to occupy (and, weather permitting, a prosecco bar and cream teas on the lawn). Penman added that she would come armed for any meteorological eventuality with a supply of umbrellas and fans.
Exhibitors include Bank House Antiques, bringing a variety of mostly small items, 19th and 20th century art specialist Billingbear Fine Art, English and Continental furniture dealer Malcolm Bowdery and Drove House Antiques with antique Chinese porcelain.
For some participants the location was the selling point. Near London, easily accessible from many other parts of the country and with the added association of the recent royal wedding, Windsor is an attractive destination. This, certainly, is what drew Paul Mayhew, a dealer in art from c.1860-1960, who counts this as his only Penman event this year.
“We find that London is where most of our clients live,” he said. “The venue is easy to get to from there and there’s free parking which makes it convenient for visitors.”
For others it is the timing that makes the fair appealing. It fills a spot roughly equivalent to Penman’s Firle Place event last year (now no longer on the schedule) and the former dates of The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, which in 2015 moved back to the end of June where it remains (this year, it runs from June 20-27).
I haven’t sold the stands so quickly for a new fair in many decades
“We don’t do anything after the spring Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair until Olympia, which is quite a long break for us,” said Jacob Markies of Art Deco specialist Jeroen Markies. “This is a nice opportunity to get our stock out there. It’s a new location and, we hope, some new customers.”
Should the inaugural staging result in plenty of sales and satisfied attendees, there are plans to expand next year. The date is reserved already and Penman said that “since our initial visit to Windsor a new permanent marquee has popped up just in the right place”.
She added: “This is the first fair for many years that has given me sleepless nights in anticipation. I am so excited with its potential and nervous that we must get it right. Attention to detail and anticipation of problems are key, but they are what make me tick.”