DECORATIVE fairs are far from being dime-a-dozen, but more exist these days than there ever were.
The next in line is the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair, itself a 28-year-old veteran, which runs from March 2-5.
But over the past few years there have been changes to this enduring Somerset event. After 23 years under the organisation of Robin Coleman, the event was bought by Sue Ede in 2012. She then launched the Bruton Decorative Antiques Fair, a companion event running in October.
Now, rumour has it that Bath could stretch into two annual events – gossip stoked by some heavy hinting from the organisers, who suggest that the new event could be launched as early as this year.
It would be small wonder if another Bath fair did make it onto the schedule. Shows with a decorative focus encourage cross-collecting and appeal to the crowd of modern designers who bring plenty of buying power as opposed to the classic, academic collector, frequently described as a diminishing set.
This fair has evolved along with its buying public. Over the years it has become a hybrid, combining traditional decorative antiques with modern pieces of design.
The 45 exhibitors who attend bring anything from birdcages, canes and English pottery to fruitwood buffets, bakers’ racks and French painted furniture.
A ready supply of exhibitors exists to stand at Bath. More, indeed, than the fair can accommodate, which has helped contribute to rumblings about a new event.
Among those joining the event this year are Elizabeth Lee Interiors with upholstery and garden antiques, general decorative specialist Mark Blower, La Place Antiques, also a regular at the Battersea Decorative fair, and The Swedish Room with Scandinavian furniture and accessories.
Meanwhile, among the returning stalwarts are No 1 Lewes bringing a selection of decorative antiques; metalware and lantern specialist Michael Holt Antiques; British and European dealer Chris Homes Antiques and Waterfall Antiques, Larkhall Fine & Decorative Art and Decorative & Modern.
The event takes place at the Edwardian Bath Pavilion and opens with a notoriously busy trade day featuring a large queue snaking out of the venue.
Tours double up
This year, the fair has collaborated with the bimonthly market Bath Vintage & Antiques Market (BathVA) on a tour dubbed ‘Style up Top Pics’.
BathVA is a covered market running on the first and last Sunday of every month.
Attendees of the tour will be led through the market and the fair by exhibitor and Antiques Young Gun Edd Thomas of Edd in the Clouds, who will speak on and demonstrate how to mix contemporary and vintage pieces in the modern home.
Thomas’ talk, and another given by Judith Miller on her top picks for collectors, will be filmed and streamed on social media – another sign of the times, and Bath’s willingness to keep up with them.