LUCY SCOVELL reviews Exquisite Taste, the Winter Art and Antiques Fair.
London’s art fair mania is drawing to a close as the winter months approach, and a visit to Olympia’s ‘Winter Art and Antiques fair’ provided a suitably aesthetically pleasing end to the season.
With 120 of the UK’s top dealers exhibiting exceptional pieces from across the ages, a wander through the numerous stalls became an obstacle course in identifying antique Cartier or Asprey cocktail shakers, to mention just two of the fair’s highlights. I would agree with director Mary Clare Boyd’s statement that the fair is a ‘truly eclectic mix of pieces’. While the visitors of the Antiques fair are often discerning art collectors with specialist knowledge oozing from their very own vintage Cartier watches, it is open to be enjoyed by all.
Olympia has for the 2014 edition enhanced its events programme, making the fair more accessible to a young amateur collector like myself. Daily ‘highlight’ tours are offered by Independent Art Consultant Vanessa Curry, and this prestigious attention makes the fair one of the most interestingly educational of the season. Not only could I wander around in awe of the objects on view, but thanks to the expert knowledge on hand I had the privilege to do my wandering knowing that I was as desirable a guest as any other intimidating collector.
Exquisite taste encapsulates the fair; there is no one there who does not pride themselves in their ability to appreciate truly delicate craftsmanship. Whilst the fair is overladen with the spectacular, two items in particular caught my eye: The sensational Victorian diamond locket c.1880 (albeit well out of my price range) exhibited by John Joseph was seductive and alluring and transported me back to the era when luxury signified far more than just taste. And although I do not condone the employment of ivory, the 1791 Anglo Indian miniature ivory bureau cabinet provided by Richard Gardener Antiques was intricately engraved and an epitome of true artistic skill.
Do luxury art and antiques symbolise exquisite taste? I put this theory to the test in a more culinary sense. I finished the evening off with a complimentary cocktail and desert at newly opened ‘Basement Sate’ in Soho. With no sign outside the double glazed scarlet doors and no website as of yet, this is a truly secret hideout offering delectable goodies that are in one word delicious. While it was relatively quiet (although it was 7pm on a Tuesday night), the quiet humdrum of music, candlelit tables and pleasing waiters transformed this bar into a local whose desired punter is not the average Joe but one who is well-heeled and above all has exquisite taste. It appears that this versatile phrase is one suitable for all things luxurious and delicious.
Although, not everyone can buy or indeed even think about purchasing a piece at Olympia Art and Antiques, it is most definitely worth a visit. The fair offers the art enthusiast the opportunity to see works by Damien Hirst and other renowned artists in a new light: that they are for sale makes them more tangible and exciting than if one were to admire them in a museum.