LONDON. This year Zoo cannily opened its doors a day before Frieze enabling pent-up collectors to let off some purchasing steam in advance of the main event.
The sponsors’ view, let alone the professional preview, of Zoo had barely opened yesterday afternoon but already the collectors were pouring into the Albert Entrance of London Zoo to inspect the line-up of more than 20 young UK-based galleries, project spaces and artist’s groups that make this satellite fair one of the week’s most eagerly anticipated events. Situated in the idiosyncratic surroundings of London Zoo’s Prince Albert Banqueting suite and the Mappin Pavilion next to the bear pavilion, Zoo was established last year as a youthful alternative to Frieze, with none of its participants having been in business for more than four years.
Zoo describes itself as “a non-profit sponsored fair” and certainly its major backers, leading London collectors Anita and Poju Zabludowicz, were very much in evidence and had already made several purchases, including a large painted perspex work by Jonathon Wateridge from David Risley for £8,000 before it was even out of its packing, They also bought a meticulously painted fantasy landscape by young artist Tamsin Morse whose large works are priced in the region of £6,000. All Morse’s works sold before 3pm. However even the Zabludowiczs were pipped to the post by Charles Saatchi who snuck into Zoo at 10.30am, before many of the exhibitors had set up. “We were told not to be there before 12.30 but when we arrived at 12.25, the place was heaving and Charles Saatchi had already done three circuits” said one disgruntled exhibitor. However Saatchi seemed to be looking rather than buying, although he was gazing long and hard at Ryan Gander’s installation on Store, before declaring he “wasn’t feeling brave.”
The prowling collector’s eye was also caught by Paul Fryer’s Egg and Nest, a Magrittian sculpture of an egg suspended over a nest on show at T1 + 2, an energetic new artist run space in London’s East End, but this work was snapped up for £11,000 by Vanessa Branson, sister of Richard, who is building up an impressive art collection for her riad hotel in Marrakesh. She also bought Polly Morgan’s poignant taxidermised rat, curled up in a glass and topped by a miniature chandelier for £2,200. Other eager purchasers included Pru O’Day, buying for Ernst & Young’s collection who snapped up Craig Mulholland’s video Hype inflation for a very uninflated price of £450; and all galleries were reporting a surge of new British-based collectors which bodes well for the home market.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Top collectors descend on Zoo'