What comes around, now seems to go around even faster.

Is this a sign of old age, asks TheEye? Perish the thought.
And that’s the case with the Autumn art fairs.

PAD, founded in 2007 by fourth generation antique dealer, Patrick Perrin, is the only fair in the UK dedicated to 20th Century and contemporary design with venues in Paris, London, and New York. This year was PAD’S 15th anniversary showing work from 62 galleries.
People go to PAD to shop.

PAD, Berkley Road

A tip: if you see something you really like, you need to buy it quickly. If you turn your back it might be gone. Back in the day when TheEye curated selling exhibitions at Sotheby’s, she would tell customers humming and hahing over something they clearly wanted: “If you can afford it and you love it, buy it, because it’s the things you don’t buy you will regret more than any mistake purchase you might have made.”

Oh the countless things TheEye wishes she had bought. A wonderful Gerhard Richter limited edition print (Betty, 1988) – to this day she keeps a postcard of it in the top drawer of he desk and looks at wistfully every day. One of the first of 12 original Shiro Kuramata Miss Blanche chairs with a rose in it. The price was by today’s standards almost a gift. But excess dithering put paid to that and now the chair (and many are fakes) commands a massive sum of money.
Too depressing to mention other things. Let’s call them ‘Hits she missed’?

Art still has a look in at PAD – not as much as in previous years but regulars such as Waddington Custot showed work by one of TheEyes’s much loved painters, Sir Peter Blake, a man who never fails to flaunt his politics and despite his advanced years still maintains his youthful sense of humour and love of life.

Other noteworthy stands were Carpenter’s Workshop occupying a large stand in poll position at the front of the tent, and Paris based Gallerie Kreo with the latest lighting pieces in perforated anodised aluminium by Konstantin Grcic.

Achille Salvagni Atelier, always one of the most sophisticated in the fair, was inspired this year by the pioneering style of American designer Bill Willis and by the unique and subtle blend of North Africa, Mediterranean and Islamic styles. The Alligator sofa and the new parchment and bronze cabinet were unusual materials especially when used together. Achille’s Italian aesthetic makes him the interesting designer he is.

FUMI is a London-based gallery showing work of designers I admire.
This year was no exception and furniture designer and maker Max Lamb was really the star with his use of cardboard boxes as the raw constituents. The process is quite amazing and TheEye left PAD and visited the Fumi Gallery in Hay Hill to see Lamb’s collection of tables, chairs and stools. If only TheEye had the space, there would be a lot of boxes in her house.

BOX by Max Lamb

Fairs are exhausting: it isn’t just the walking round concentrating on what you are looking at but bumping into friends and acquaintances you haven’t seen in years. You do a valiant job trying to remember their names and mentally groping for clues, ending up with ‘And what are you doing now?’. It’s only when you are able to walk away that you remember the context in which you knew them.

Next day it was off to Regent’s Park for the preview of FRIEZE MASTERS which is always a pleasure.
The variety of work, a combination of ancient and contemporary from top international galleries, is impressive and you find yourself looking and admiring things that normally you would not give the time of day to.


Tony Bevan

Old Master paintings, religious icons, furniture you might declare to be ‘not your thing’. But taste is a strange beast. Back in the day, TheEye was hugely interested in Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts. Charles Rennie MacIntosh, and Frank Lloyd Wright and Lalique were her heroes. Then her taste changed to the very contemporary. But did it? Even now at Fairs she will eye something that given she lived in a massive house (no hope), there would be wings big enough for different design periods to compliment each other harmoniously.
But enough wishing and dreaming.

Edmund de Waal

After Frieze Masters, TheEye visited Frieze the next day, and rather sulkily, rather like a duty for readers of my blog who couldn’t get there. (Brownie points need awarding)

In past years, it’s seemed a bit of a joke, with people dressed up in silly costumes doing silly things. Poseurs posing desperate to attract photographers. You would walk around, up and down the aisles, avoiding people you wanted to avoid, and usually leaving with a throbbing headache.

Show Business

A dapper dealer

This year it was refreshingly different and far better.
Galleries were showing strong well curated work.
Keeping things simple. Gagosian, for instance, showed one artist and didn’t bother to put his name up: Damian Hirst. Gorgeous flower paintings in bright summery colours. Not subtle. They might have been an advertisment for Inter Flora, but they were attracting a lot of interest for anyone that was able to afford the eye-watering prices.

Damien Hirst. Gagosian Gallery.

Lindsey Mendick is an imaginative ceramicist showing with Carl Freedman‘s Gallery – Handbags in the form of crustaceans. TheEye wasn’t sure if Lindsey Mendick liked her fishy subjects or not, but TheEye loved them. Well made in lusterous clay. Very original. And that is what Frieze should be.

Lindsey Mendick

Alison Jacques is a low-profile but excellent gallerist who recently opened a new, large space in Cork Street, well suited to the towering, colourful fibre sculpture of Sheila Hicks who had one piece in Frieze on Alison’s stand and a one-woman show in the gallery.

Paula Rego

Antony Gormley


So, what did TheEye’s eye most like at the Fairs and had she won the lottery wanted to buy?
A Paula Rego painting from Victoria Miro, something by South African artist, film maker and activist, William Kentridge at Marian Goodman, and not forgetting Peter Blake. Any of those would make TheEye very happy.

copyright Janice Blackburn
October 20 2023



  1. Interesting as always to have your EYE, and pretty spot on for me!

  2. I’m sorry I missed the shows this year after reading this enthusiastic report. Many thanks

  3. Thanks for “doing your duty” at Frieze – loved the fishy handbags. Great roundup of all the fairs.

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