It’s January, with a new year and a new decade and Islington is awash with curators, artists and collectors flocking towards the Business Design Centre for this year’s London Art Fair. Will the new certainty on Brexit damp down collectors or will it give them new encouragement for a brighter and better and future – encouraging them to buy, buy, buy/ We will have to wait and see – there still seems to be a natural caution about the future. There is a long way to go and very little in Government investment plans seems to support London as an international centre for the arts. Already, the 12 Star Gallery in Europe House is closing its doors, understandable but a sad loss in promoting cultural awareness of Europe in London.
Visitors at the Fair enjoyed Campari cocktails as they explored this year’s selection of modern and contemporary art from around the world from iconic 20th century artists such as Joan Miro and Lynn Chadwick to the newest work by the new generation of artists such as Jack Tanner, Beth Carter, Laurence Edwards, Michael Speller, Tom Harker, Cesar Orrico, Tessa Farmer, with hints of the future in the digital art by Daniel Kim, with many other artists along the way.
It was good that Scottish galleries were well-represented with the Glasgow Print Studio, the moody images of Pat Douthwaite (1934-2002) at the Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh and the work of artists such as Juliane Hundertmart at the Urbane Art Gallery in Edinburgh, plus Scottish artists Eduardo Paolozzi, Craigie Aitchison and David Mach popping up now and again in different places. There was a hint of sustainability with the recycling of denims by Ian Berry and old timber by Lesley Hilling but, given the current political mood, there is a feeling that the Business Design Centre and the Art Fair needs to do more – in particular the stand lighting looked rather old-fashioned and energy-guzzling.
As usual, the main stands were supplemented by the innovative project spaces with artists such as Cesar Cornejo and the photography exhibits – many architectural – in Photo 50.
There was a new optimism, but will this be delivered by the collectors acquiring works across the Fair?