No two dealers ever seem to agree about the Hali fair. The event is now in its fifth edition, and this year moved to the upstairs gallery of the National Hall at Olympia, above the Summer Fair. Dealers hoped that attendance would exceed expectations but in fact, though traffic was increased, trading was quiet. Danny Shaffer, editor of Hali, claimed visitor figures had doubled but US decorators failed to turn up at all: “Business could have been better in view of the change of timing and venue,” he said.
Blame fell on the World Cup: “The football did not help–the hall was like a morgue during some of the matches and even the dealers were not on their stands”, said dealer Alan Marcuson of Cloudband.
On the opening day some dealers hardly had time to turn around, while others were just expectant. One significant piece on show, an early Turkish prayer rug being offered by Alan Marcuson of Cloudband, failed to sell and Mr Marcuson’s comments perhaps reflected this. “Given the costs of exhibiting we should have done more. But the market is down and this was not helped by the great absence of American buyers. It was disappointing that there was not a curator in sight.” Not so, according to Mr Shaffer who said the British Museum and Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco were both represented, in addition to a number of celebrities including the film star John Malkovitch who was buying African hats. Led by the decorator market, African art continues to grow in popularity.
Clive Rogers said it was his third and most successful attendance, and he thought this was due to textiles holding up better than carpets. “The textile dealers sold more evenly than the carpet dealers. Business was more reliable for them due to the wealth of choice and it was my best ever fair.” Among items he sold well were an English Jacobean table carpet (£2,700) and a Lotto fragment dating from about 1500.
The innovative section of contemporary weavings was a success. As last year, there was a special selling exhibition of Caucasian Carpets and Textiles pre-1850, to which a very limited number of top dealers such as Michael Frances and Adil Besim of Vienna had contributed.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'The World Cup effect'