Medusa, Tin Drum, London Design Festival

The UK’s Best Art Shows & Fairs 2021 – 2022

Culture /


A calendar for art lovers

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Whether you’re curious about ceramics or an art history extraordinaire, the UK hosts shows and fairs for all types of art enthusiast. Autumn is a big season for art festivals, with the big hitters like Frieze taking place alongside exciting smaller initiatives. Here are the events to add to your diary.

The UK’s Best Art Shows & Fairs

StART Art Fair

StART Art Fair

Steve Smith – Dla’kwagila

Taking place at London’s Saatchi Gallery, StART Art Fair showcases over 70 artists and galleries from more than 25 countries around the world. This will include new works from some of K-pop’s big stars, Mino and Yooyeon of Winner and solo talent Henry Lau, as well as urban pop artist Bassa Aspinall and photographs of Namibia by Ireland’s Marie Jordan. 13 – 17 October 2021, startartfair.com

London Craft Week

Olivia von Halle, London Craft Week

Year after year, London Craft Week shines a light on some of the most exciting makers through a programme of workshops, experiences, pop-ups and exhibitions. The festival returns to capital this October, with a special focus on the environment. Crafts On Peel will be showcasing a modern approach to bamboo art, a traditional craft which lasts for thousands of years; while the British Fashion Council and the Institute of Digital Fashion is hosting a talk on the future of the fashion industry. The Mills Fabrica’s sustainability programme, meanwhile, spotlights the innovations driving positive change in the fashion and food industries. 4 – 10 October 2021, londoncraftweek.com

Decorex

Decorex

The 2021 edition of Decorex offers a mix of in-person and virtual events, with a four-day exhibition taking place ahead of an online offering. The show offers designers and suppliers the chance to connect with both new and familiar brands, plus learn about future trends in the industry. Each year, Decorex invites a renowned interior tastemaker to create a scheme for its bar – for 2021, it’s Sara Cosgrove, founder of Sara Cosgrove Studio. She’s gone for a circus concept: think exotic drapes, hand-painted motifs and sumptuous velvet, with lighting enveloping the area in a warming glow. Decorex favourite Future Heritage – a platform for undiscovered talent across different craft disciplines – will also be returning, with names this year including Frances Pinnock, Adam Nathaniel Furman, Kate Maestri and Anna Ray. 10 – 13 October followed by Decorex Virtual from 16 – 18 November, decorex.com

London Design Festival

Yinka Ilori, London Design Festival

Yinka Ilori by Andrew Meredith

A mixed reality installation, a sculpture celebrating beehives and an outdoor art gallery from Yinka Ilori: just some of the exciting features of this year’s London Design Festival. The 2021 programme features a mix of exhibitions and events taking place across the city, with centrepieces at the V&A including an installation in the Raphael Court by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto and a low-carbon-aluminium pavilion found in the pool of the John Madejski Garden. 18 – 26 September 2021, londondesignfestival.com

Art in Mayfair

Art in Mayfair

This autumn Mayfair will be transformed into an open exhibition spanning art, fashion and culture. Running in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts, Art in Mayfair sees many of the area’s top stores – including Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Bugari – creating art-inspired window installations in celebration of the Royal Academy of Arts’ 253rd Summer Exhibition. British artist Gary Hume, meanwhile, has been commissioned to design a series of flags, which will be suspended above Bond Street throughout the show. A number of cultural and art-led in-store events, plus showcases and pop-ups will also be taking place around Mayfair. 2 September – 17 October 2021, bondstreet.co.uk

Affordable Art Fair

Affordable Art Fair

On an autumn day in October 1999, ten thousand art lovers descended upon Battersea Park to browse thousands of paintings, sculptures and prints in a friendly environment. It was the first ever Affordable Art Fair – which has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, hosting events in 10 cities including London, New York, Hong Kong and Amsterdam. The next London fair returns to Battersea this autumn, offering artworks from over 90 UK and international galleries alongside immersive installations and an eclectic selection of food and drink. Not to be missed is Fluid Form, an interactive work commissioned during lockdown by Martin Miller’s Gin, the official drinks sponsor for the event. 21 – 24 October 2021, affordableartfair.co.uk

British Ceramics Biennial

British Ceramics Biennial

Fresh exhibition at the British Ceramics Biennial in 2019,China Hall of the original Spode factory. Photography: Jenny Harper

Ceramics from all over the world are celebrated in the British Ceramics Biennial, which has run every two years since 2009. The festival takes place in venues and spaces across Stoke-on-Trent, featuring artworks from UK ceramicists alongside international artists. Explore clay in a new way at The Clay Lab, see bone china pieces from Jamaican ceramicist Jacqueline Bishop, create your own plate in a masterclass, check out pop-up exhibitions by artist-led project DUST Rising and much more. 11 September – 17 October 2021, britishceramicsbiennial.com

Masterpiece London

Dorothy + white light stripes, William Klein

William Klein, Dorothy + white light stripe, 1962.

Every June, creatives, collectors and enthusiasts from all over the world flock to the Royal Hospital Chelsea for the annual Masterpiece London fair, home to the finest works of art, design, furniture and jewellery dating from antiquity to the present day. However, due to Covid-10 restrictions, the previous two events have taken place online. This didn’t stop it being a success though, with a jazzy new platform offering art lovers and collectors to connect with exhibitors and experts. Stay tuned for details of the 2022 edition. 30 June – 6 July 2022, masterpiecefair.com

Frieze London and Frieze Masters

Frieze Masters

Gagosian, Frieze Masters 2017

One of the world’s most renowned art fairs, the Frieze empire began with the launch of an art and culture magazine back in 1991. In 2003, the brand ran its first show in London’s Regent’s Park, with sister editions going on to launch in New York and Los Angeles. Three connected fairs are running in Regent’s Park this autumn: Frieze Sculpture, which is on now, followed by Frieze London and Frieze Masters in October. Frieze London focuses on contemporary art – from both emerging and well-established artists – while Frieze Masters spans thousands of years of art history, from the ancient era to the late 20th century. Almost 300 galleries from all over the world are taking part, alongside a programme of talks and special projects covering the big issues in the art world of today. Frize Sculpture runs from 14 September – 31 October 2021, Frieze London and Frieze Masters run from 13 – 17 October 2021, frieze.com

Main image: Medusa by Sou Fujimoto and Tin Drum, London Design Festival

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Best UK Exhibitions of 2021 / It’s Show Time for London’s Mayfair Galleries