The Antiques for Everyone (AFE) debut show at London Excel closed on Sunday after three days of trade. First editions of shows like this are always difficult and exhibitors reported widely varying results which ranged from ecstatic to downcast.
Several exhibitors showed items of Asian art but three had a significant part of their stand devoted to the genre. Paul Harris Asia Arts displayed a wide variety of mainly Chinese art, including a very large white ceramic statue of Mao Tse Tung created in 1967. It is believed to be unique and carried a £500,000 price tag. It was not sold but it did become something of an attraction and brought many visitors to the stand. The exhibit recorded a number of ‘modest’ sales.
The Mao statue, extreme left, on the Paul Harris Asia Arts stand at AFE
Philip Carrol, from Yorkshire, is a regular exhibitor at fairs like AFE. He had secured enough sales to make the venture profitable and was generally positive about the experience. Many dealers pointed out that the costs of showing were modest for a London venue. ‘Where can you show in London at this very modest cost?’ one pointed out, ‘We shall take a long term view and stay on board for such a small outlay. The results will come later.’
Also showing was Koos Limburg from Scotland. The firm is also a regular exhibitor at fairs and were showing a number of Chinese items, including some fine ivory.
Visitor numbers were somewhat depleted on the opening day: it snowed in London (an event which tends to set off panic in the metropolis) and Southern Rail were engaged in one of their regular strike actions. Saturday seemed to be considerably busier. Exhibitors who had circlated their regular clientele in the London area appeared to be rather busier than those trying to built a customer base.
One significant advantage of the fair, from an exhibitor’s point of view, had to be the ease of set up and breakdown. Exhibitors were given the use of an empty hall right next to the exhibition for car parking during both set up and break down. Reactions to this were overwhelmingly positive.