Downton comes to BADA

Posted: 2012-04-27 20:01:09 - Last updated: 2012-06-19 21:42:38

The British Antique Dealers’ Association held its biennial banquet at the BADA Antiques & Fine Art Fair, in Chelsea, providing an excellent opportunity to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Fair. Over 130 members and guests enjoyed a splendid evening, ending with an after-dinner speech by actor and screen-writer, Julian Fellowes.

Jonathan Coulborn, Chairman of the Association, welcomed guests including representatives from the Civil Service, the Press, other fair organisers and the art market, and in particular the Chairman of the Reviewing Committee, Lord Inglewood, Earl Cadogan, Viscount Chelsea and the Master of the Company of Arts Scholars, Mrs Philippa Glanville. Many of those who have worked behind the scenes for many years to ensure that everything at the Fair runs smoothly were also present to join in the celebrations.

When the Fair was first launched in 1993 it represented a pioneering event for art and antique dealers in Britain. Until then, no major British antiques fair had taken place in a purpose-built pavilion, and BADA was the first trade association to undertake such an enterprise.

It was a chance conversation between dealer, Duncan (“Jack”) Baggott and David Asher of Country Life magazine that led initially to a joint venture with Reed Exhibitions, although after a couple of years Reed handed it over to the Association. Country Life’s support for BADA has however continued ever since, and they generously sponsored the parting gifts given to dinner guests.

In the Chairman’s speech Jonathan Coulborn recognised the involvement of a number of BADA members who had been responsible for the BADA Fair concept. In addition to Mr Baggott there had also been Raymond O’Shea, Stephen Jarrett and Stewart Whittington, as well as former BADA Secretary General, Elaine Dean. However, the greatest applause by guests and exhibitors was saved for BADA Fair Director, Gillian Craig, who for 20 years has worked diligently to bring to reality the vision held by those founding dealers.

Mr Coulborn also touched on a number of topical issues for antique dealers. He urged Lord Inglweood and the Government not to change the export licence system, which he believed strikes a fair balance between the interests of owners and the cultural welfare of the nation. He lamented the imposition of Artist’s Resale Right on works by deceased artists and urged Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt to press for the triggering threshold to be raised from €1,000 to €3,000. He also drew attention to the problem of dealers being pushed out of Mayfair by high rents and pledged that BADA would do all it could to press for Special Policy Area status for the art and antique dealing streets of Mayfair.

Julian Fellowes (now Lord Fellowes of West Stafford) then explained to guests how he had become a screenwriter of successes such as Oscar-winning Gosford Park and the television mini-series, Downton Abbey. He concluded by explaining that in contemporary times antiques could fulfil a role similar to the characters in Downton Abbey; through being a tangible witness to the history of social change, and this was one reason why he was so fascinated by them.

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