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Five Good Things: spring fairs special

Spring has sprung and with it comes all the arts, crafts and antiques you could ever want, thanks to a proliferation of events taking place across the country this May. Khadija Ibrahim, a graduate of Art History Link-Up, our charity partner, gives us fair warning…

Khadija Ibrahim
Five Good Things: spring fairs special

London Craft Week, various venues across the city, 8-14 May

London Craft Week is a celebration of all that’s excellent in British and international craftsmanship. Taking place in renowned venues across the capital on 8-14 May, it’s expansive and diverse – and has something to excite everyone, with more than 200 events on the programme.

With the king’s coronation festivities on the horizon, why not gain some insight into the artisan handiwork behind the grandeur and opulence of the royals? This could be a taught course on the intricate goldwork embroidery of ceremonial uniforms, led by Hand & Lock at the National Army Museum, or a visit to the Garrison Chapel at Chelsea Barracks, to learn about the history of Highgrove.

If you’re in a more contrarian mood, perhaps a visit to Vivienne Westwood’s archival corsetry display is in order. On show at the designer’s flagship store on Conduit Street, it explores Westwood’s anti-monarchist and anti-establishment roots and her pioneering ‘underwear as outerwear’.

And don’t miss the international pavilions, showcasing the traditional and contemporary craft practices of South Korea, Taiwan, Austria and Malaysia.

For details, visit the LCW website.

Photo London, Somerset House, London, 11-14 May

With more than 110 exhibitors from 55 cities across the globe, Photo London rightly prides itself on the breadth and depth of its exploration of the medium of photography.

Martin Parr, the godfather of the British scene and the chosen master of photography at this year’s fair, will present a project documenting his 50-year career in the British Isles, in all its extremes and eccentricities. Right across from Parr, an exhibition titled ‘Writing Her Own Script’ promises to be a fascinating look into the transformative contributions of women to British photography since the 1930s.

Not only is there a focus on social and political issues within the artworks themselves, the fair itself, running 11-14 May, has translated a feminist ethos institutionally – 70 per cent of its artists, curators and gallerists are now women. Why not support these great changes in the photography world with a visit to Somerset House?

For details, visit the Photo London website.

Eye of the Collector, Two Temple Place, London, 1720 May

A punchy tagline – “a new fair for a new era” – encapsulates what Eye of the Collector is all about. Ditching blank white walls, tents and stalls for a gorgeous neo-gothic mansion in the City of London, this imaginative outfit, running 17-20 May, offers a very different atmosphere from the more regular art fairs. The founder, Nazy Vassegh, has created an intimate and free-flowing show, putting unexpected works together to prompt conversation and breaking away from traditional modes of display. The pieces are exhibited within the house, as they would be in a potential future collector’s home, and are accompanied by an online viewing and sale.

With a modern and international focus, this fair is making efforts to support overlooked artists. We are particularly excited to see the work of José Caldas, Tewodros Hagos and pieces from the Circle Art Agency sitting alongside the recognisable art of Andy Warhol and Barbara Hepworth – a singular mix with an innovative approach.

For details, visit Eye of the Collector’s website.

The Petworth Park Antiques and Fine Art Fair, Petworth, West Sussex, 19-21 May

With paintings, fine porcelain, jewellery, sculpture and all sorts of other wonderful antiques, the Petworth Park Antiques and Fine Art Fair is a great spot to find treasures to add to your collection. We’ll be looking out for W. Shanshan’s stock of ancient Chinese porcelain, which includes a Sichuan terracotta dancer.

Set within a magnificent 400-acre deer park, the fair, running 19-21 May, isn’t just a great chance to stock up on beautiful wares. Why not combine it with a day out at the 17th-century Petworth House, one of the National Trust’s ‘treasure houses’, with its landscaped gardens? Entry is free for fair visitors during the three-day event.

For details, visit the Petworth Park fair’s website.

Shown: Bilston enamel spaniel patch boxes, c1780, the Antique Enamel Company.

Reveal Glasgow, SEC Centre, Glasgow, 19-21 May

Formerly Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair, Reveal Glasgow arrives in a fresh guise this year, with a brand-new name and a bigger venue. One thing it hasn’t lost, however, is the personal touch: its organisers encourage visitors to go up and speak to artists while perusing the array of stalls, which for this edition (19-21 May) will play host to more than 1,000 works.

This fair is slightly more budget-friendly, with prices starting around £50 (although there are works also worth a small fortune – not exactly the Aldi of art fairs). Along with an on-the-house ‘arts crèche’ for kids, expect free art classes with Peter J. Scott, open to all levels – you just need to book a slot in advance. Maybe you’ll unleash your talents and find yourself behind one of the stalls next year…

For details, visit the Reveal Glasgow website.

Shown: Colin Fraser, Westerly, 2021, Ballater Gallery.

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