Back in 2011, when I first became involved, the art dealers who worked with paintings exhibited at Master Paintings Week and the sculpture and drawings dealers had Master Drawings and Sculpture Week. I took over the management of the Master Paintings Week in 2014 and oversaw the merger of the two events into what we now know as London Art Week. Since 2015, Amelia Higgins’s leadership has taken it to an internationally known, not-to-be missed week in the art world welcoming curators, scholars, and collectors to experience what London’s galleries have to offer.
London Art Week (LAW) is a major biannual art event that showcases the best that the art market has to offer, from leading galleries and auction houses. This year, the event will take place online and in galleries from 2-6 July 2021. Guest interviewer Tova Ossad sits down with LAW's Director Amelia Higgins to discuss what visitors can expect from the event and how the pandemic has impacted the art industry. Previous to joining LAW in 2017, Amelia worked for Old Master dealer Johnny van Haeften.
About London Art Week
You have been the Director of London Art Week, or LAW, since 2016 so can you give us a bit of a history of London Art Week?
London Art Week began in 2014, with the merger of the well-established Master Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture weeks. Since then, it has grown into the most successful gallery-based art event, with over forty participating galleries and three auction houses in the West End. These galleries have greatly benefited from their mutual association and have made a significant impression on the worldwide art market and the week has become a wonderful opportunity for visitors to explore and discover world-class art in the heart of London - 5,000 years of art from antiquity to modern, old master paintings, works on paper, sculpture…
The Evolution of London Art Week
How has London Art Week evolved since its inception?
Our central hub will always remain as St. James’s and Mayfair, but now we have dealers in locations spanning Richmond to Holland Park and Kensington, Bloomsbury to Soho...as well as those who currently wish to exhibit solely online. We work closely with our many, major museum partners, making the important link between the museum-quality works our galleries have on offer. We are now twice a year, in Summer and Winter but our talks programme takes place throughout the year, with our new ‘Art History in Focus’ months in March and October. LAW Winter 2019 saw the addition of our inaugural Symposium, “Conversations on Collecting” held at the National Gallery. In 2020 the Symposium took place online over three days and marked the 500th anniversary of Raphael's death; for this edition, we worked closely with the V&A. The number of galleries joining grows each year and, pandemic aside, we have more international dealers taking a space for the week than ever before which is really exciting.
London As a Hub For The Art Scene
Designed by Woulfe is a London-based design studio working with international clients all over the world. What do you think makes London so special and how does LAW promote such a prominent aspect of what the city has to offer?
I have to say the art scene…The museum-quality exhibitions in the commercial galleries as well as the museums which house some of the greatest collections worldwide. LAW gives access to all visitors to its exhibitions…and our galleries are located in some of the most historically fascinating areas of London which are a joy to walk through; there is always something to discover.
How The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Affected London Art Week
As an international business with a strong connection to the arts, Designed by Woulfe has, of course, observed how COVID-19 has affected so many aspects of the art market, from art fairs to artists. How has the Pandemic impacted London Art Week and is there anything that you see changing permanently?
The advantage of London Art Week over traditional single-venue art fairs is that, given the often-changing Covid 19 regulations, LAW can go ahead in its normal 'live' format as long as galleries are allowed to open; the small, individual art gallery venues ensure the optimal safety for visitors… Our digital and online platform has expanded to great success for us; our talks programme in particular. Where we could seat 50 for a panel discussion in a gallery, some of our online talks have realised an audience of over 500.
London Art Week 2-6 July 2021
What are you looking forward to most for this edition of London Art Week?
Visiting galleries again of course - each edition is an eye-opener and I still find it a real privilege to walk into a gallery and speak one on one with an expert about the incredible works of art on display. The fact that any visitor or potential buyer can do this, is what we are trying to get across. I am looking forward to seeing our “Revolution and Renewal” exhibition. As part of LAW's collaboration with museums, LAW Summer 2021 introduces our first themed online exhibition. We are delighted to welcome as guest curator the art historian, curator and academic scholar Dr. Arturo Galansino, Director General of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. The online exhibition will have its own dedicated section on the LAW website and all participants have been invited to submit a work on the theme for consideration by Dr. Galansino. Also, we are launching our first London Art Week Showcase in association with Cromwell Place, the recently-opened exhibition space in South Kensington. London Art Week Showcase, a group exhibition at Cromwell Place from 2-9 July, will feature an eclectic selection of works - including paintings, drawings, sculptures and objects across the diverse range of LAW dealers (in addition to their own gallery-based shows).
Who is your ideal visitor?
The culturally curious, but of course also someone who might be inclined to buy an artwork for the first time - that is the best outcome - or add to a collection. One of the benefits of LAW and its scope in genres, styles etc etc is that you could buy an antiquity or work on paper for £500 or an Old Master painting for £5M.
Designed By Woulfe has invited Tova Ossad of Ossad Art Management to interview a range of art world personalities. Her fifteen years' experience working in this sphere has exposed her to many artists, auction specialists, art advisors, conservators, and gallerists, thereby giving the Design Journal fresh insight into the fundamentals of art. This series will explore buying, selling, appreciating, and everything in between.