Friday, 11 September 2015

Top Tips: Antique Fairs

Mieka Sywak, Director of the LAPADA Art & Antiques Fairs, gives her top tips on how to make the most of an antiques fair

Written by Mieka Sywak
The LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair in Berkeley Square, Mayfair, is the foremost international showcase for art, antiques, design and decorative arts. Sponsored by Delancey, the 2015 edition has been extended by a day in response to demand following the success of last year's event, which welcomed 20,000 collectors and visitors over five days. 100 distinguished exhibitors and experts in their field will present works including jewellery, design, furniture, carpets, tapestries, antiquities, clocks, ceramics, silver and fine art. Authenticity is assured thanks to a 70-member specialist committee pre-vetting everything on sale. With prices ranging from £500 to £500,000 and above, sought-after pieces appeal to the established collector and first-time buyers alike.

1. Only buy what you love. Trust your own tastes and instincts.
2. Buy the best you can afford. You can live with a piece for a lifetime if you love it.
3. Buy from recognised, reputable and trusted dealers, such as members of LAPADA, the Association of Art & Antiques Dealers. LAPADA members are pre-vetted and abide by a strict Code of Conduct, which means you can buy from them with confidence.
4. Ask dealers questions before you buy. It is worth asking about the condition, history, age and provenance of a piece. A good dealer will have a wealth of knowledge and will take the time to share their expertise with you.
5. Don't be afraid to mix styles and periods. Variety and unusual combinations can make for particularly interesting interiors.
6. Upholstering antique furniture with modern fabrics for a contemporary look can create very intriguing aesthetics. LAPADA Association service provider Italian textile company, Dedar, has worked with a number of our dealers with fantastic results.
7. Make the most of the bars and restaurants at fairs and take a break during your visit. This year catering company, EventOracle, will be running the LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair first floor restaurant, which will accommodate both an a la carte menu in the fine dining area and the buffet-style seafood and salad bar. Alongside a selection of classic cocktails and Lanson Champagnes, the Around the World in 80 days-inspired bar, Mr Fogg's, will offer afternoon tea and an extended menu throughout the day on the ground floor.
8. If you have time visit the fair over a number of days so you can be sure to see everything.
9. Antiques fairs have a range of dealers offering a broad spectrum of pieces in a variety of disciplines; they are a fantastic opportunity to discover new objects and styles. Ask the dealers for the history behind their pieces, as these will bring them alive.
10. Take a friend with you, they will inevitably pick out things you might not have noticed and it is fun comparing tastes.
11. Fairs usually offer a varied programme of events, which can provide interesting insights into the history of the works on offer. This year Dr Catherine Whistler, Keeper of the Department of Western Art and curator for Italian and Spanish paintings; drawings and prints; French art before 1800; textiles at the University of Oxford's award-winning Ashmolean Museum will deliver the Fair's Headline Lecture on 25th September, offering important curatorial insights into the Ashmolean's forthcoming exhibition, Titian to Canaletto Drawing in Venice. In addition, highlights tours conducted by experts will be available for visitors, beginning at the Fair's reception from 4pm daily.

LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair, Berkeley Square, 22 – 27 September,

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