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The debut Belfast Titanic Antiques & Fine Art Fair on 8 December was held in Drawing Room 1 of the Victorian-era Harland & Wolff offices, now the luxurious Titanic Hotel Belfast.

But the historic venue, where RMS Titanic and other ocean liners were designed, wasn't the only unique element in this latest addition to the fair calendar. 

In the afternoon of the fair, objects relating to the Harland & Wolff shipyard and the Titanic’s designer, Thomas Andrews (who perished on April 14, 1912 when the ship struck an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage to the US), were auctioned.

"From experience, fairs can flag in the afternoon, so we thought an auction would be a good way to create added focal and talking points," said Des Gallagher, who with fellow local dealer Garth Arnold was behind the launch of Belfast's newest fair.  

The auction of 70 dealer lots – an innovative element for an art and antiques fair – was partly in aid of Lagan Search & Rescue. It was hosted by Karl Bennett, managing director of Belfast saleroom Bloomfield Auctions.

A personalised silver key fob and tie pin belonging to John Miller Andrews, prime minister of Northern Ireland 1940-43 and brother of Thomas Andrews, were among the auction lots.

Pitches sold out

Pitches at the fair were sold out, with 24 dealers from Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic taking part. Arnold and Gallagher not only organised the event, but had their own stands too.

“What’s particularly pleasing is the spread of dealers from north and south of Ireland who signed up,” Gallagher said, relieved that the first Belfast fair "is now under our belt".

Irish focus

Work by Irish artists including painters Markey Robinson (1918-99) and Ronald Ossory Dunlop (1894-1973), and sculptor and painter Phyllis Arnold (b.1938), was for sale alongside period furniture, coins, jewellery and silver.

Gallagher and Arnold believe they have found a gap in the market for a quality, vetted Irish fair staged at key buying points in the Irish calendar.

The Stables Art Gallery in Portstewart and Original Irish Art in Kinsale exhibited alongside Aylmer Fine Art of Dublin, Adam Antiques of Dundrum, Co Down and Robert Christie Antiques of Ballyclare, Co Antrim.

Dealers ATG spoke to praised the fair's organisation, down to providing free tea and coffee throughout the day, and vowed to return for the next edition.

Read more about the Belfast Titanic Antiques & Fine Art Fair and future dates in ATG No 2424