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Five Good Things: October London Fairs Special

Art attacks this month, as gala season descends on the capital. With such splendours on show, it’s hard to know where to start, which is why we’ve picked five of the most tempting fêtes so you can get your fair share

Five Good Things: October London Fairs Special

The Decorative Fair, Evolution London, 4-9 October

To Battersea Park, quick march. Running 4-9 October, the autumn edition of The Decorative Fair is about to begin and, as ever, it’s chock-full of stellar antiques and textiles.

Among the 140 exhibitors, we’ve got eyes on L&V Art and Design, the Dec Fair stalwarts specialising in 20th-century British and European pictures, furniture and objets d’art, who this time bring a ravishing four-strong set of chinoiserie panels from c1890. We’ll also be heading to Tribal Art and Textiles for their wondrous wares, and firm favourites Anthony Hepworth Fine Art, the Bath-based gallery whose displays of modern British pictures and sculpture never fail to delight.

This edition also sees the introduction of ‘Contemporary on the Mezzanine’, a new curated section dedicated to leading dealers working in modern craft and design.

Visit the Decorative Fair’s website for details.

Frieze London/Frieze Masters, The Regent’s Park, 12-16 October

Next up are the biggest hitters: Frieze London and Frieze Masters. Running concurrently from 12 to 16 October, in two gargantuan tents in NW1, this pioneering pair of fairs is sure to have something for everyone.

Those with more contemporary cultural predilections will favour Frieze London – showcasing ambitious solo and group shows from top dealers and spaces around the world, including Sadie Coles HQ, François Ghebaly, Gagosian and Stephen Friedman Gallery – while its younger-but-older sibling, Frieze Masters, serves up more historic fare.

This year celebrating its 10th birthday, Masters presents a programme billed as “a snapshot of art history”, featuring everything from rare antiquities and Old Master delights to work by the leading lights of the 20th century.

Visit the Frieze website for details.

Shown: Company school painting of two ducks with Persian inscription (detail), India, 19th-century

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House, 13-16 October

One continent, 54 countries, myriad masterpieces from the wealth of creative talent from Africa and its diaspora: this is the guiding principle of 1-54, which returns to its home on the Strand for the 10th-anniversary edition, running 13-16 October.

We’re particularly excited by the prospect of Alfie Kungu’s solo show at Ronan Mckenzie’s Home gallery, which sees the London-based painter exploring the relationship between artist, medium and tool, as well as the large-scale installation by Grada Kilomba, O Barco/The Boat, which will be in the Somerset House courtyard until 19 October.

Visitors would also do well to make a beeline for Papercup, Rania Naufal’s pop-up recreation of her Beiruti art bookshop/café that was destroyed in the 2020 explosion. And, speaking of books, this year’s annual looks back at a decade of the fair – perfect for first-timers and fans alike.

Visit 1-54’s website for more details.

Shown: Dawit Adnew, Zero Gravity, 2022. Courtesy of Addis Fine Art

The Other Art Fair, Truman Brewery, 13-16 October

The Other Art Fair had humble beginnings, starting life in a south London warehouse. Founded by Ryan Stainer in 2011, it was created with the hope of giving young enthusiasts the chance to start collecting. And it’s all paid off – now the event is known as the destination for those keen to discover up-and-coming talent. It’s even expanded internationally, with iterations in six cities in the USA and Australia.

Come here on 13-16 October and you’ll find all manner of game-changing, boundary-pushing and ­­– crucially – affordable pieces presented by the artists themselves. As well as picking up paintings and prints, visitors can expect – among all sorts of other goodies – poetry from Gommie, live tattooing by Charlotte Mallory, tasty treats from chef Jay Sharp’s Hash-Hut, created in collaboration with artist Phoebe Boddy, and a huge sparkling spidery installation by Sara Shakeel, the Pakistani Instagram sensation known for her Swarovski-encrusted collages. Need any more convincing? Visit The Other Art Fair’s website for details.

Affordable Art Fair, Evolution London, 20-23 October

If pocket-friendly pickings are your priority, Affordable Art Fair – also held in Battersea’s Evolution – should be firmly in your diary, running 20-23 October.

There will be prints, photographs, paintings and sculptures from 110 different exhibitors, as well as special installations, augmented-reality performances and a selection of the most brilliant art-school graduate pieces, curated by Nephertiti Oboshie Schandorf (of gallery and educational charity Peckham Platform.)

And the best thing? Nothing at this three-day extravaganza exceeds £7,000, but even if that feels out of reach, there’s plenty for sale in the hundreds too. Budding collectors rejoice!

Visit Affordable Art Fair’s website for details.

Shown: Eric Fok, Back to Paradise, 2017. Arta

And, while we’ve got you… Anyone with a particular interest in ceramics should be sure to visit the Fine Art Society’s show on Waistel Cooper, the artist-potter known for his textured stoneware pieces with sculptural silhouettes. Running until 4 November, this gem of a retrospective – the follow-up to two exhibitions in Edinburgh and London that ran in January this year – shines a light on the quiet figure, often woefully overlooked in favour of his friends and contemporaries Lucie Rie and Hans Coper.

Visit The Fine Art Society’s website for details.

Photo: David Eustace

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