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The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair - Autumn 2015 (updated)

Event preview

WITH more than 145 exhibitors from the UK and Europe, there will be a spectacular selection of period design and works of art for sale at this autumn’s Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair in Battersea Park. Highlights include:

Andy Warhol, a vivid pink Marilyn Monroe silkscreen portrait (Haynes Fine Art)

Sir Noel Coward, a seascape in oils of the Sussex coast (SAC & Co Ltd, new exhibitors)

A life-sized C19th portrait of Madame de Pompadour (Nicholas Price)

Sculptural vernacular American rocking chair with heart-shaped back, c1900 (Garden Artefacts)

Late C19th natural pearl and diamond tiara (Trivette)

1960s space-age cocktail bar by designed by Pierre Cardin (Ed Butcher)

Italian gilt and silver tôle wall sculpture of a bouquet of sunflowers, c1960 (L&V Art and Design)

A rare George III silk-work panel, after a watercolour painting by Julius Ceasar Ibbetson, titled Skaters on the Serpentine, Hyde Park, circa 1790 (Santiago Ventura Real)

Rod Arad, ‘the big easy’ chair, 1950s (Omnipod)

Previously Posted: This Autumn, from September 29 to October 4, The Battersea Fair will mark its 30th birthday.

In 1985, a London-based decorative antiques dealer, Patricia Harvey, along with her husband Ralph, conceived and launched a new kind of Fair, created for the interior design trade. It brought together like-minded dealers from around the country who understood that interior decorators were desperately looking for unfussy antiques and elegant period design that fell outside the remit of traditional antiques fairs.

The ethos and intentions of the Decorative Fair have remained steadfast: to offer buyers good value, unusual pieces, and heaps of inspiration.

The Decorative Fair has moved locations: from the Café Royale to Chelsea Harbour (1991) to Battersea Park (1997); was first to host a major central London event in a marquee; grew from once a year to three times a year; and has changed hands, being bought by exhibitors David and Jane Juran in December 2008.

At the Autumn 2015 Fair, the trade and private buyers will discover what hundreds of thousands have found before: a user-friendly, relaxed environment devoid of starchiness, with 145 dealers displaying painted, decorative and fine antique furniture; rare and unconventional objects; collectors’ items, and elegant 20th century design dating from the 17th century to 1980 (the dateline was 1950 when the Fair launched). Art of every period is also included, from antiquity to contemporary.

What sets Battersea apart from all other Fairs is the creative displays put on by exhibitors and the sense of excitement that comes from never quite knowing what might be found around each corner. The unexpected is part of the Fair’s DNA.

Much emulated since 1985 (dozens of antiques fairs around the country have added the word to their name), the ‘decorative’ aspect of The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair has never been bettered.

It remains a major hunting ground for top-flight antiques and art dealers, and a key buying event for interior designers from the UK and around the world. “We see dozens of well-known dealers from London and the regions, some of whom exhibit at the likes of Masterpiece and Maastricht, queuing up on opening day to get a first look,” says David Juran, Fair Organiser. “Sometimes we spot items bought at Battersea popping up for sale at the grander Fairs and West End retailers… We’re an open trade secret!”

Spencer Swaffer, legendary Arundel-based dealer, says: “Being first in the queue of buyers, first out of the traps and into the stands, has always been a closely fought battle. We all knew we’d learn something: a new theme, a new look, a subtle nuance, a way of putting things together, a different finish for a standard bit of furniture, a twist of vintage fabric to jazz up a chair.”

He adds: “Cheerfulness shines out of Battersea and makes it such a joy to visit. Anywhere that allows dogs clearly has its heart in the right place.”

One reason for the Fair’s cheerfulness is the lack of corporate stuffiness (it’s a family-run business) and the fact it is a dealer-focused Fair, which keeps exhibitors relaxed and enjoying themselves. When Patricia Harvey launched it, she wanted to make exhibiting easier for other women dealers and those working alone, which most antiques dealers do!

Supplied in the mix are the helpful Harvey Boys (actors mostly) who are on hand to help move furniture and heavy items for exhibitors and buyers; dealers can bring their dogs (many travel round the country with their trusty canine friends to keep them company, otherwise it can be a solitary occupation) and most of all, Patricia Harvey encouraged stand-holders to be exuberant with their decorating skills, so customers could imagine how things might look in a room. In fact quite a few Decorative Fair dealers also work as decorating advisors and interior designers.

Happy exhibitors make a cheerful experience for all concerned, and visitors love attending. The anticipation around each event helps explain 30 successful years of The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fairs, and the organisers look forward to welcoming in the fourth decade this Autumn.

Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, London, SW11