New to this edition is an extra weekend-only section. The area, open for two of the fair’s four days (on Saturday and Sunday), has no stand fittings and will host around 30 dealers who have signed up to get a feel for the fair at a lower cost. Many of these are newcomers or those returning after some time away.
London silver dealer Linda Jackson, for example, has not stood at AfE for around five years. “I’ve been concentrating on my shop,” she says, but adds that it is always good to get out and see who else is around and buying.
As a participant in the weekend-only section she seeks to “test the waters” at AfE bringing examples of her stock from across the board in terms of size, style and price. The opportunity to do so for less outlay than taking a full stand – and without disrupting the running of her Silver Vaults shop, open Monday-Friday – makes the venture particularly attractive.
Such innovations, Jackson reflects, are heartening. “There have to be some changes – the marketplace is transforming and the fair is having a go at making some alterations of its own.”
Other dealers in the weekend-only section so far include Jewels Past with vintage designer costume jewellery, Graham Drewett Glass, Art Deco specialist Deco Interiors and Retro Bazaar bringing vintage, mid-century and more.
AfE retains its other two sections. The first is devoted to the highest-quality items including traditional furniture, Asian and decorative art and painting. The second is a marketplace with stands of Scandinavian furniture, glass, ceramics, vintage jewellery and more. Both sections are vetted for quality and authenticity and run throughout the event.
Clarion Events organises the fair which is staged three times per year at the NEC.
“The marketplace is transforming and the fair is having a go at making some alterations of its own
Among the supply of side events at this staging is a display of Arts & Crafts spoons. A series of daily celebrity talks is presented by Judith Miller and Will Farmer, both of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, and Lester Bennett, a member of the British Institute of Interior Design, whose Saturday afternoon talk is titled Are antiques relevant in today’s interiors?
New dealers include Christine Schell Antiques, bringing 19th and 20th century silver, ivory and tortoise shell, Fox House Fine Art and jewellery dealer Lisa Clements.
Anthony Jackson makes his first solo appearance at AfE, selling a 40-piece selection of Ruskin Pottery. “I collected too much of it so I had to start selling it,” he says. He also brings Lancastrian and Royal Worcester.
Gemma Redmond Vintage returns to this edition after some time away.
Among regular returning dealers are Edwardian and Art Deco jewellery specialist Anderson Jones, Aquila Fine Art, period costume dealer Ashmans Antiques & Old Lace and Blackbrook Gallery bringing 19th century farm animal portraits.
Spoons in the spotlight
A Spoonful of Arts & Crafts in the UK is the special exhibition at this edition of AfE. The loan show is curated by Simon Moore, author of Artists’ Spoons & Related Table Cutlery – a British History of Arts & Crafts Flatware.
It focuses on Arts & Crafts spoon designs from the early 20th century and showcases works by many much-collected designers such as Archibald Knox, Charles Ashbee and Omar Ramsden.