Launched by a group of dealers at the Mall Galleries last year, the fair returns from January 30-February 2, with a preview on January 29. Thirty-four exhibitors attend, stocked with pictures suitable for the London Calling theme and much more besides.
One of the returning exhibitors, Gwen Hughes Fine Art, brings six London scenes by Dick Lee (1933-2001). The Rhodesia-born painter created what Hughes describes as “muted, atmospheric, beautifully painted and quite spare pictures”.
Between 1957-64 Lee lived in Barnes and worked on views of the surrounding area, such as Early Morning above Chiswick Bridge, in which he presented the essence of a place rather than depicting it in literal detail.
“People think of the 1960s as the era of pop art, and artists working a more traditional vein have been somewhat overlooked,” Hughes says. “Lee was a teacher and was much loved and didn’t push his own career that much.”
On the other hand, she adds, he held seven exhibitions at the Grafton Gallery near his home and became “a well-known local London figure” – an institution in his own right. She offers his paintings for prices ranging from £750-1300.
As well as the Lee selection, Hughes brings London scenes by artists such as Paul Nash, Victor Pasmore and Rupert Shepard.
Fellow exhibitor Robert Eagle offers some more recent views of London, painted by Melissa Scott-Miller. Now 60, Scott-Miller paints ‘portraits’ of the capital focusing on its textures and including its flaws. Among this group of paintings is November sunshine from Islington, tenth floor, offered for £4800. Eagle also brings six fresh-to-the market oil paintings by Scottish artist John Bellany (1742-2013).
Meanwhile, new Connect exhibitor Sarah Colegrave brings an exhibition of 10 paintings by Rex Vicat Cole (1870-1940), following on from a show of London pictures she staged late last year (see ATG No 2418). These were made in preparation for a book Vicat Cole had planned showing parts of the city disappearing in the wake of development and war damage.
He died before the book was published and the manuscript was lost, but the original pictures still attract buyers. At the recent show, six of the original 16 works found new homes.
“They’re stunning, a wonderful record of London,” Colegrave says. His version of the capital focuses on the “funny little corners”, she adds. “We’re familiar with the grand buildings, but these pictures look up, look around the corner and down the side streets.”
Also standing is Elizabeth Harvey-Lee, who features a different city, offering an etching of Venice by Canaletto (1697-1768). His works were popular among British Grand Tour-makers during the first half of the 18th century. Their patronage led him to dedicate the first collected edition of his etchings titled Vedute (views), c.1744, to the British Consul in Venice. The original etching for La Terrazza was produced c.1740-44 (though this is a later impression) and is offered for £3000.
Local visitors are likely to be drawn to the supply of London scenes and other works offered at the event. It is also a chance for clients and dealers – some of whom stand at few if any other fairs in the capital – to meet.
For the most part works are offered for around £500-20,000. There are no prescriptions for genre or date, but guidelines require all works to be of ‘good vetted quality at sensible prices.’
Probably the highest-value pictures come from Mark Goodman, who brings a selection of works on paper by Bridget Riley, following on from the artist’s exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. Prices range from £8000-200,000 – relatively affordable compared to some of Riley’s works that can be worth millions.
Connect supports The Artist’s General Benevolent Institution and will include a special tour guided by critic and artist William Packer.