Starting a Collection at the Winter Art & Antiques Fair

The Winter Art & Antiques Fair is returning to Olympia London, from 30th October – 5th November 2023. Mary Claire Boyd, Winter Art & Antiques Fair, Fair Director, suggests some ways to start a collection

Thinking of starting an art or antiques collection?

Beginning an arts or antiques collection is the start of a very rewarding journey but can initially feel a little daunting. Don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Speaking with exhibitors at the annual Winter Art & Antiques Fair, Olympia who are all experts in their field, we gathered their top tips and pieces for sale to help you begin your collection.

For anyone apprehensive about a lack of knowledge of the market (ie most people), buying from a ‘vetted’ fair is a great way forward. This means that every piece for sale has been checked by a team of experts before opening to ensure the quality is good.  It is a very thorough process – at fairs like Winter Art & Antiques, vetters have been known to email experts in New York for another opinion if there is uncertainty amongst the team, so no stone is left unturned.

Robbie Timms from S&S Timms says, “A great way to start a furniture collection, even if you have very limited space, is by buying miniature and child’s furniture. It comes in a huge variety of different forms, sizes, qualities and most importantly for anybody starting a collection, budgets”.

“Miniature furniture was normally made as travelling salesman’s sample pieces. but occasionally you will find apprentice pieces, or even one-off commissions. Very often the miniature versions are much rarer than their full-size counterparts as there were fewer of them made”.

A Hound’ by Sir Francis Grant, PRA  (c.1803-1878) 

Art dealer Karen Taylor says, “Drawings are a wonderful entry level point into the world of great 18th and 19th century British painters. They have a spontaneity which you don’t find in oils, which artists reworked, and thus allow you to get closer to the hand of the artist and his approach to his subject.”

This delightful pen and ink drawing of a dog by the Scottish Sir Francis Grant, President of the Royal Academy, shows how a portrait painter, known for his royal portraits of queen Victoria and her court and the most fashionable sitters of the day, could dash of a wonderfully free likeness of a favourite pet.

Still Life – October’ by Billie Waters (1896-1979)

Art Dealer, Sarah Colgrave has been working in her field of art (19th and 20th century) for 30 years and over that time has sold pieces to institutions such as the British Museum and the Musee d’Orsay. She says it is paramount that you buy what you want to buy and really love and not what someone tells you you should love. “Follow your heart at all times” she says. “. “There are so many reasons that buyers are drawn to a work, it might be that they have been to the place or they love the colours. One of my favourite pictures currently is this work by Billie Waters, but that may well be because it is autumn now and this reflects the season beautifully”.

If new collectors are considering buying as an investment, Sarah Colgrave’s words are echoed by almost every dealer – buy because you love it not because you want to make money. That might well be a nice side effect but shouldn’t be your primary motivation.

‘Half Pint’ vases by Alice Heaton, £250

Dealer Mark Marcov thinks that while some buyers will look for good provenance or for smaller, less expensive works by established artists, another tactic is to find someone at the start of their career with real potential. “Alice Heaton is a young British glass artist who has been blowing glass for just a few years now. I carry her work as I regard it as of exceptional artistry and merit” he says.

“I think she has a bright future ahead of her and her work is deserving and will be highly sought after in the future. She would be a wonderful artist to start a collection with and prices are very affordable in the range of £110-£800’. These are pieces which could well be worth a lot more in the future as well as being beautiful in their own right. A new collector should ask a good dealer why he shows this artist and what her background is? In this case, Alice gained a First Class Honours in Design Crafts at De Montfort University and has shown her work at a number of prestigious shows. These include the Craft festival, Bovey Tracey where she won the Showcase Award and Made by Hand Cheltenham Craft show where she also won the Showcase Award”.

‘The Mauve Umbrella’ by Sir John Verney (1913-1993)

Belinda Allen Agar, Middlemarch Fine Art says, to be brave. “Buy something because you love it, not just because you think it will be an investment. Chances are, if you enjoy living with it on your walls other people will too. And get it framed well!” 

For all your arts and antiques inspiration, join us at the Winter Art & Antiques Fair at Olympia London from 30th October to 5th November. For more information and tickets visit:  

See also: Alfa Romeo Wins Best of Show at Concorso d’Eleganza Varignana

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