Friday, February 01, 2019

Review: Connect Art Fair at the Mall Galleries

I visited Connect – The Independent Art Fair on Wednesday (see Two new art fairs in London plus goodbye to a popular old one) - and was rather glad I wasn't there for the Private View on the Tuesday night. By all accounts it was packed out!

Connect in the Threadneedle Space
It's very odd to see the Mall Galleries reconfigured for the Fair. The organiser brought in their own people to make the stand areas and there were lots of odd nooks and crannies which made it quite intriguing and very unlike the Mall Galleries.  It also somehow or other made the place seem even larger! I couldn't quite work that one out - but rather than feeling cramped it felt like there were more and more stands just around the corner!

In fact there are 34 stands in total varying in size and stock. Most were art dealers who don't posses a B&M gallery although there were some smaller art galleries as well.

It made me wonder what an art society exhibition or artists' co-operative art fair might look like if every artist had their own stand!

Blondes Fine Art
The other thing which was normal for the dealers on their stands but again was somewhat unusual for viewing art at the Galleries were all the items of furniture and objects of interest brought in to make the stand look less like a stand and more like a gallery or even a home

At least I think that's what the fireplace surround was about!

Panter and Hall - plus fireplace

The consensus amongst the dealers was they much preferred it to the previous venue for the Works on Paper Fair because the artwork was not having to compete with the colours of the walls or floor. They also were very much in favour of its more central London venue - which makes it so much easier to visit a fair.

Manning Fine Art led by the Fair Director
Artwork is lit by stand spots rather than from overhead which makes the artwork very easy to see - although some of the glazed work was not so easy to see as the spots hit the glazing.  The spots would have benefited from a baffle.

A very attractive wall by Gwen Hughes Fine Art spoiled by the spots
The North Galleries were very cosy and friendly with a number of smaller stands
From an art perspective it was great to be able to go to the Mall Galleries and see artwork by a lot of very good artists not normally seen at the Gallery - including the likes of Picasso, David Hockney, Toulouse Lautrec, Elizabeth Blackadder, Paul Nash etc

Prices varied a lot. There were a lot of affordable art and there were also some more expensive pieces. I saw a very small original by Toulouse Lautrec for £35,000 and quite a lot of artwork priced above £5k.

I think as this is a venue not usually used for art fairs I'd have liked to see a bit more information for visitors and potential buyers/collectors about who the dealers all are and how art fair work.  Not everybody has been to one before!

Overall - my conclusion was that the Mall Galleries is very well suited to holding niche art fairs - and it would be nice to see some more in between the exhibitions of the national art societies.

The Exhibiting Art Dealers and Galleries

There was also a very smart set-up for the wrapping and packing and shipping

The AirSea Packing operation - where the card shop is normally situated