In its first instalment since 2019 (due to the pandemic putting a hold on physical exhibitions), the Cotswold Art & Antique Dealers’ Association (CADA) Fair took place at a new venue this year, Warwickshire’s Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park. Featuring 27 exhibitors, the show covered a variety of disciplines, from original drawings and etchings to garden and architectural antiques.
With many dealers moving away from London to other areas of the UK due to rising commercial rents, fairs such as this are increasing in popularity. And with stunning settings like Compton Verney providing the ultimate backdrop, it also allows visitors to make the most of their time at such events – such as the year-long series of events currently hosted by Compton Verney’s art gallery to commemorate the legacy and life of British woodcarver Grinling Gibbons.
Effect spoke to five of the fair’s exhibitors to discuss highlights from the show and to hear about the issues currently circulating, such as the move away from the capital for many dealers and the growing importance of organisations such as CADA, especially as we emerge into a post-pandemic world.
Picking up on these topics, Architectural Heritage’s Alex Puddy tells us he has witnessed considerable change over recent months. “Exhibitions do not now have to be London centric,” he says. “A decentralisation has occurred, with regions such as the Cotswolds also becoming a strong hub of dealers.” Looking at the role of CADA, especially over the last year, Puddy also states how being part of a community has helped: “It is a great way to talk with my fellow dealers and connect over our shared experiences. This sense of camaraderie has helped us all through the difficult times and, as we collectively emerge from the pandemic, we are now looking forward to the projects that will promote one and all within our association.”
It is a great way to talk with my fellow dealers… This sense of camaraderie has helped us all through the difficult times.Architectural Heritage’s Alex Puddy
While many relied on online sales during the lockdown period, Puddy comments on how they missed seeing clients in person: “This fair was ultimately an expression of hope and faith that we all want to engage once more in a three-dimensional world.”
Top Pick from the exhibition: Roses by Bryan Kneale MBE RA, signed, oil on canvas (above). “For me, this piece represents how sculptors see in a different way,” says Puddy. ”One can spend much time with it, always finding more, always seeing something new.”
Catherine Hunt Oriental Antiques
Based in Cheltenham, Cathy Hunt’s passion for oriental ceramics and textiles stems from her years as a graduate, where she often visited the Ashmolean Museum and spent time at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. One of CADA’s Fair Directors, Hunt also feels the importance of such organisations. “The public are happier to buy from accredited dealers and members of well-respected organisations such as CADA and BADA,” she comments.
The public are happier to buy from accredited dealers and members of well-respected organisations such as CADA and BADA.Catherine Hunt
“The presence of dealers on these websites is important in marking a dealer as fully competent.” When speaking of the current time and the risk of COVID-19, Hunt also feels locations such as Compton Verney make guests feel more at ease rather than having to go into London, where encountering crowds is more likely.
Top Pick from the exhibition: A conical bowl c. 1700 made during the reign of Kangxi (above). Featuring eight horses of Wang Mu, a Chinese legend, the bowl was a piece from an important British collection.
Freshfords Fine Antiques
Founded in 1987, Freshfords is a family business, with Simon Powell taking over the company from his father in 2005. “Being able to exhibit again is exciting and rewarding,” he says about the show. “It is a chance to meet new clients as well as re-establishing yourself with existing clients.” Similarly, Powell also recognises the importance of being a member of CADA: “It helps to promote art and antiques to a much wider audience than I would ever achieve as an individual.” And while Powell hasn’t directly witnessed a move away from London, he feels that regional associations are an important opportunity for the public to scope out dealers in more localised parts of the UK.
Top Pick from the exhibition: A George III carved mahogany 18th century period bird cage tilt top table (above). “I was very excited to find this piece on my travels,” he reveals. “It was probably made in Edinburgh for the local area, but I found it in Cornwall. It would be fascinating to know its history over the last 200 years and how it made its way from Scotland to Cornwall.”
Lennox Cato Antiques
A guest exhibitor at this year’s showcase, Lennox Cato felt it was a milestone for the sector. “This, without a doubt, must be the first-time dealers have worked with a museum in such a way,” he says. “The collaboration of art for viewing and art for sale made it unique, and I thank Compton Verney for being a trailblazer in doing this.”
Finding such a great article as this gives any serious collector, museum or dealer such pleasureLennox Cato
The venues used make a huge difference, and Cato believes it provides a more positive experience for the UK industry as a whole. “The trade needs interesting selling venues for the general wellbeing of the buying public outside of London,” he continues. “We had a great time making new contacts and it was a great moment for the business.”
Top Pick from the exhibition: An extremely rare medieval solid walnut coffer, Italian c. 1550 (above). “Finding such a great article as this gives any serious collector, museum or dealer such pleasure,” he says. “The warm patination and the fine intricate hand-carved Gothic designed tracery is just fantastic.”
Hickmet Fine Arts
Located on Portobello Road in London, Hickmet Fine Arts specialise in Art Nouveau and Art Deco sculpture and glass. Another guest exhibitor for 2021, David Hickmet has noted how many dealers have not returned to their galleries in the iconic destination they are based. “I am also aware of the new antique shops opening in more provincial areas of the country, especially the home counties,” he explains. Being part of the CADA membership will allow the company to remain close to collectors in and around the Cotswolds, he feels, and with these annual fairs up and running again, he says it is a chance to give buyers confidence in the quality and desirability of Hickmet’s inventory.
Top Pick from the exhibition: A very rare set of six miniature landscape vases by Daum Frères in an original fitted display box (above). “These were probably used by Daum sales personnel to show the very highest quality of the work from this most famous French glasshouse,” Hickmet reveals.
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