Dealers have been returning to bricks and mortar in the face of continuing uncertainty over the shape of the trade.
For years dealers bemoaned the decline in shop trade across the country due to factors such as rising rents and rates and fall in passing trade. However, after two years of intermittent lockdowns, the fairs calendar both in the UK and abroad is in flux. For those who often traded overseas, Brexit regulations offer serious hurdles.
So as the way buyers shop slowly changes, various traders are looking to home – sometimes returning to old haunts – and opening doors in a ‘new old-fashioned’ way.
First up, two familiar UK dealerships are set to open shops this spring in Petworth as the West Sussex town continues a return to its former glory days as an antiques destination.
Opening this month is oak and country antiques dealership Wakelin and Linfield.
Mike Wakelin and Helen Linfield started out in the world of antiques independently in 1968 and joined forces 40 years ago.
After a few years dealing in Brighton, they opened a large premises in Petworth in 1984. Since then, they have operated without a permanent shopfront, trading at UK and international antiques fairs, which have taken them to Australia, the US, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain. Now, 38 years after opening their first Petworth location, they are back. The High Street premises launch this month offering antique furniture and accessories.
The dealers cite the uncertainty over teh future of some UK fairs (though they remain regulars at the Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair in Battersea) after two years of of lockdown as one reason to return to a shop. At the same time, they say, Petworth is regaining the profile it had in the 1980s-90s.
Ottocento Fine Art has also decided now is the time to give a permanent location in Petworth a go.
Max and Louise Andrews have run the business together for 10 years and in May they will open the doors to their new space. The two-floor gallery located in a Georgianfronted building on Golden Square will showcase the collection of Old Master to Contemporary paintings, prints and works on paper.
Bi-monthly exhibitions are planned devoted to different periods and themes.
“We are opening Ottocento in Petworth as the town is increasingly a very important destination for art and antiques and we believe that the art we will be offering will provide some much-needed joy in these
times,” Max says.
Its opening weekend is April 29 to May 2.
Not one but two
Elsewhere in the UK, art and photography dealer James Hyman is also returning to his roots. He dealt in London’s Mayfair and St James’s for 20 years with a shop on Savile Row for 10 years before going private.
Four years later he is back with not one but two premises on Mayfair’s Maddox Street. Number 50 focuses on Modern British art and there will be changing exhibitions at number 48, starting with Telling Stories: Picture Post and its Legacy (running until May 15). Artists include Shirley Baker, Bill Brandt and Thurston Hopkins.
“I thought I would give it another try,” Hyman says. “People seem to be coming back into town now so hopefully it is a good time to give it a go.”
Nearby in Mayfair’s Berkeley Square, antiquities specialist David Aaron had the grand opening of its new premises last week. The business moved from 22 to 25a Berkeley Square late last year (see ATG No 2520) but was waiting on the completion of works before opening to the public.
Further afield, decorative arts specialist Oscar Graf is moving his Parisian showroom from the Saint- Germain quarter, where it has been for nine years, to the Right Bank.
Now located in the Golden Triangle, the gallery opens in May with an exhibition titled 1900 Treasures and Icons.