Galleries - January 2016

Arising from the art boom in the 1980s, the London Art Fair (20 to 24 January) has survived two major economic recessions and countless would-be challengers to emerge, a quarter ofa century later, in seemingly still rude health. The secret, ifthere is one, lies in the organisers’ constant ability to adapt and improve. Now, the idea ofsimply hiring out the spectacular Business Design Centre in Islington to the best 100 odd dealers in Modern British, 20th C. and Contemporary Art, has long been superseded by a rather different model, one to which, while the core remains the same, a range ofancillary artistic attractions have been added. First there was the more super- contemporary (and curated) Art Projects section in an adjoining gallery space, attracting with its somewhat lower costs, new and emerging galleries. That proved a huge success and was quickly followed by Photo50, a guest curated exhibition of contemporary photography; this year’s show, entitled ‘Feminine Masculine’, being undertaken by Federica Chiocchetti, founding director ofthe Photocaptionist. As its title, suggests, it aims to explore, from a primarily female point ofview, the struggle and fascination of dealing with the opposite sex. Meanwhile, the organisers’ most recent innovation has been to invite a leading regional gallery to showcase its collections and exhibitions in a pavilion at the front of the fair; last year it was Chichester’s Pallant House, this year it’s Hastings’ Jerwood Gallery. Their exhibition, entitled, appropriately enough, ‘Coast’ illustrates the way in which the British coastline, as both a physical and spiritual place with its extraordinary light, has shaped the Collection’s predominantly Modern British artists’ work. Together with tasters for its 2016 programme, there are some cracking things – Alfred Wallis, Ben Nicholson, Christopher Wood, John Bratby and Prunella Clough among others. In much the same way, the Works on Paper Fair (11 to 14 February) has sought to refresh itself and offer added attractions, its special exhibitions always being particularly attractive and reflecting in a very apposite way, the particular character ofthe venue in which they are holding the fair. For several years this was the Science Museum where there were some entrancing shows like ‘The Moon’ and ‘The Conquest of the Skies’. Now, with a new venue at the Royal Geographical Society, they have excelled themselves with an exhibition, mounted by the Society itself, celebrating the 100th anniversary ofShackleton’s heroic Antarctic Expedition of 1914-17. This features the astonishingly dramatic photographs, taken by expedition member Frank Hurley, ofthe destruction oftheir ship, Endurance, in the Antarctic ice – somehow the glass plate negatives were salvaged. There’s even a second show this year – writer Laurie Lee’s hitherto unseen paintings, found under his bed by his daughter Jessy after his death in 1997. NU A very special art auction is being organised for Cancer Research UK at Christie’s South Kensington. Entitled ‘Art for Life’, it has some 23 paintings donated by Ken Howard OBE RA and his friends for sale. Very distinguished friends (and wonderful work too) with Anthony Eyton RA, Norman Ackroyd RA, Chris Orr RA, Tom Coates NEAC and Michael Whittlesea NEAC among them. Bidding is either by silent auction before the event or live at an evening auction on 14 January. There are various ways of doing this – take a look at the Cancer Research website, including attending the auction reception itself. There is also a pre-auction exhibition from 9 to 14 January to view artworks. NU A NTENNAE Two fairs. . . 8 GALLERIES JANUARY 2016 . . . And an auction from left: C hristopher Wood 'The Bather' (detail), Jerwood Collection, London Art Fair Laurie Lee ‘Self-Portrait’, Works on Paper Fair, © Jessy Lee 2015 William Bowyer ‘Welcome, Spring’, Christie’s/CRUK Art for Life