The Crafts Council has decided to ditch its Chelsea Crafts Fair and relaunch the event in October, with a new name and location, to coincide with Frieze, the hugely successful contemporary art fair that has transformed the London fair scene.
For two weeks (3-15 October), more than 300 emerging and established “designer-makers” will exhibit their wares in tents in the courtyard of Somerset House, the 18th-century building on the Thames bankside, which houses the Courtauld Gallery and Institute, the Gilbert Collection and the Hermitage Rooms. Frieze is being held from 12 to 15 October in Regent’s Park.
The Chelsea Crafts Fair used to be held in the inadequate and cramped premises of Chelsea Town Hall but, says Julian Stair, the acting chair of the Crafts Council, “the crafts sector has moved on and outgrown that concept”. The new event, with much larger exhibition space, will feature a wider range of work, particularly furniture and work that overlaps with industrial production, which could not be accommodated in Chelsea. The name of this new event has not yet been decided.
The Crafts Council is part of the government-funded Arts Council, but is expected to raise some money itself. It inaugurated Collect, a successful crafts fair held every February in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The first two editions of Collect made more than £4 million ($7 million) in sales and this year’s edition saw 11,000 entries, a 10% increase on last year.