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The stormy meeting was held during the Winter Olympia last Thursday to clarify the management’s plans for the Fine Art and Antique Fairs, particularly a new-look June event.

It was to be chaired by Mark Saunders, head of the Consumer Division of Clarion Events with responsibility for the fairs. However, Mr Saunders was understandably absent from the meeting as his wife gave birth to a baby girl that morning, and Mr Morris stepped in, with Mrs Borwick present.

More than one speaker forcibly pointed out their disgust at the handling of Mrs Borwick’s redundancy, and there were calls for her reinstatement. The regret at the nature of her departure was echoed later in the day in a speech given by Jonathan Horne, chairman of the BADA, at a luncheon to celebrate Mrs Borwick’s 11-year tenure.

However, it was made clear that Mrs Borwick would not return and the Olympia fairs will continue to be remoulded. But Simon Kimble, managing director of Clarion Events, told the Antiques Trade Gazette after the meeting that the input of the advisory board would be paramount to the future of the fairs, rather quelling fears that there would be a wholesale rooting out of exhibitors thought not to fit in with the management’s new image of the June fair.

Mr Kimble repeated the wish for a more modern, European type fair and said the advisory board had already approved a contemporary dealer for next June. He said he and Mr Morris had been expecting a highly emotional meeting with the dealers, but repeated that it was now time to move forward and “it is totally out of the question to reinstate Victoria”.

Despite the vehemence of the dealers there are signs that many of them have some sympathy with the fair’s new direction. There is a definite hint that post-Borwick the Morris management might be more sensitive to their exhibitors’ sensibilities.

Economic difficulties might well mean that Mr Morris’s determination to significantly increase the size of next summer’s fair might not be set in stone.