Fair directors Lucy Russell and Richard Hodgson of Hodgson Events told ATG that the rising costs of the event and its specialist nature meant that it was increasingly difficult to get enough exhibitors to make its running financially viable.
They added that they “felt unable to continue to pass on these costs to exhibitors, resulting in an increasing mismatch between the income generated from stands” and the costs of putting the event together.
“It is with regret that we have made this decision,” said Russell, who thanked those involved over the years. “The spirit of this fair is legendary.”
Exhibitors were told of the decision earlier this month.
The fair has assumed a number of guises in its long history. Begun in 1986 as The World of Watercolours, in 1999 it was relaunched by dealers Rupert Maas and Julian Hartnoll as The Watercolours & Drawings Fair.
Hodgson Events came on board and later took over the sole organisation of the event in 2010, subsequently changing its name to The Works on Paper Fair. It had its final staging at the Royal Geographical Society in February.
“For a generation of dealers, this fair was a starting point,” said Guy Peppiatt, who joined in 2005, a year after he began trading. “But there is a problem with mid-range fairs like this at the moment. The market isn’t easy and there aren’t the young dealers coming through in my area.”
Fellow dealer Derek Newman, who attended the fair since its first edition, described the closure as “a huge loss.”
“That fair was really the main builder of my business over many years and still was this year,” he said.
Both Newman and Peppiatt emphasised that the quality of the event remained high for individual dealers up to and including its last staging.