Finally, the Olympia Winter Art and Antiques Fair is back! They are set to welcome eager dealers and thousands of enthusiastic buyers this November. Celebrating their 30th anniversary, this year’s fair is taking place at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in Kensington, with a Private Preview Evening on 1 November.
At the helm is Mary Claire Boyd, the fair director, and a familiar face to many of us. We had the pleasure of speaking with her to learn a little more about the Fair, and her history in the arts and antiques industry.
We are curious Mary Claire: how did you get involved in the antiques industry?
“I was brought up surrounded by art and antiques of all sorts, although nothing particularly notable, they just became ‘old friends.’ I always enjoyed visits to art galleries and museums. My involvement with the Olympia Fairs started some time ago when they asked me to help organise a charity Gala evening at one of the Fairs, which I did as a part-time project.”
“Immediately, I just loved the buzz of being on-site and seeing the whole event come together from an empty hall to being filled with every sort of art and antiques. That led to involvement part-time covering many different aspects of the Fairs, everything from negotiating catering contracts, working on marketing aspects, and ultimately helping with selling stands to exhibitors. Gradually from then on my role grew and recently into the position of Fair Director.”
How would you describe the transformation of Olympia over the years?
“Like every business, Olympia has had to adapt to stay relevant and successful which means taking into account the market needs from both a buyer’s and a seller’s point of view….The market seemed impregnable.”
“Most dealers had established physical premises where they could meet their clients and show off their stock. Nowadays, antiques compete for attention within contemporary styling, and many dealers avoid the costs of premises preferring to present their stock online and via selected, quality exhibitions where they can meet clients.”
“So, we have had to find new ways of focusing on quality antiques, remaining relevant to different furnishing styles and trends, and providing the right ambiance, where people can enjoy doing business together and build long-lasting relationships.”
After 30 years in the event space, what drives you to continue to build Winter Olympia?
”Each year is different and has new challenges. You can never sit back and think, ‘That was the best Fair ever.’ There are always elements to be reviewed and updated. It is always good to see different dealers flourish under the Olympia umbrella and go onto grow their business as well as look after the ‘regulars’ who have been with us every one of the 30 years and know it is part of their staple fair circuit. Nothing can be taken for granted. The buzz of opening a show and thousands of visitors arriving is just as exciting as it ever was. New stock comes into every fair, and new dealers come so it is never, ever dull.”
“Olympia London is a wonderful feat of Victorian engineering and designed to host events! The building lends itself well to a show, and in particular, to an art and antiques Fair. It has its own special atmosphere and looks so spectacular when the carpet is down, and the lights are all on. The Fair itself always has a remarkable variety of stock and always includes some surprises. It appeals to collectors as well as homeowners and interior designers.”
We cannot wait to visit Olympia soon to meet a wonderful mix of dealers to inspire and enjoy from glass, silver, jewelry, and ceramics to large pieces of Georgian furniture, 17th-century Dutch paintings and Art Deco sculpture, and some surprises, we are sure. Join us!
Private Preview – Monday, 1 November 2021
Main Event – Tuesday, 2 November – Sunday, 7 November 2021
Location: Gallery Level, National Hall, Olympia Exhibition Centre, Kensington, W14 8UX
Monday Private Preview
Advance Private Preview: £35.00
On The Door Private Preview: £35.00
Tuesday – Friday
Advance – Adult: £21.00 | Child (13-16 years): £14.00
On The Door – Adult: £25.00 | Child (13-16 years): £18.00
Saturday & Sunday
Advance – Adult: £23 | Child (13-16 years): £16.00
On The Door – Adult: £27 | Child (13-16 years): £20.00
Monday – 1 November – 3pm – 8pm – PRIVATE PREVIEW
Tuesday – 2 November – 11am – 6pm
Wednesday – 3 November – 11am – 6pm
Thursday – 4 November – 11am – 9pm – LATE NIGHT
Friday – 5 November – 11am – 6pm
Saturday – 6 November – 11am – 6pm
Sunday – 7 November – 11am – 5pm