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Well, I took myself off to the International Art and Antiques Fair at Olympia yesterday, with a Modern British colleague (which is less painful than it sounds). And I was excited! 41st annual!180 exhibitors from around the world! Art! Antiques! Jewelry! I love a good fair almost as much as I love a glass of my favorite beverage (which rhymes with champagne). I had heard this one compared to TEFAF Maastricht (which I love) so it sounded like enough fun to brave the public transport.

Well, first, let me say that whoever it was that compared this fair to Maastricht had clearly been to neither. No, really.

Like most people in this century I started with the website. The 360 tour had me spinning round and round (and I heard that a few times) but I quite liked the virtual gallery. Less, the fact that some exhibitors didn't want to put prices up. Please. If you want me to buy it, tell me how much it is.

At the fair itself, I loved the "extraordinary objects" exhibition, and if that wonderful praying mantis had been a bit smaller, it would have gone home with me. Other things and exhibits I liked:

Michael Goedhuis. Michael wasn't there (he was off working in NY), but his extremely knowledgeable gallery manager, Sophie Kempson was, just back from Art Basel Hong Kong. Wonderful stand, featuring the artist Xie Aige's sculptures in very small editions. (upside Down at £27,500 was my favorite). Another favorite, Walpole Fine Arts. Emmanuel Crenne brought a number of things I don't care about at all- namely modern tapestry and French inlaid furniture. If I could, I would've gone home with it all. A lovely Galle inlaid table - really lovely. And a tapestry from Lenor Fini. It was only with difficulty that I was pried out of his booth. James kinmont had some lovely prints, including two by Gene Davis that had sold by the time I got there. But good thing I took his card, because he had nothing up on the fair website.

For sparkly stuff, Trivette, where we found a group of aquamarines, the largest a whopping 30 cts, set in a 1950 ring, with diamonds, for £5,500. And there were other things - individual things - a piece of Nelson's silver (price on request ), a lovely pair of French wooden carved angels for £6,500... But they were hidden away, you had to work to find them. And that was what I liked less. The lack of excitement amongst exhibitors and visitors, alike. The hard to find "memorable object" found everywhere in Maastricht that makes you go "wow" and immediately check your bank balance. The preponderance of ecole de Paris ( and its English equivalent) paintings hanging in endless rows. Now, there might have been many exceptional things. But if I didn't see them, and I was looking, think about the casual buyer, with money to spend in their pockets. Perhaps that was why I saw so few red dots up. Maybe 10 or 12 total. On the second day.

I'm sure the vetting was impeccable, the silver polished with care, the lighting expensive- but I saw - and heard - no buzz. No dealers driving from Belgium trying to get their first pick of treasures. No smart young things with impressive boyfriends trying on Jazz Age diamond and sapphire clips. No Omani collector looking for desert scenes (with camels). Where were all those people? Venice has already opened. PINTA ran 4-7 June. Art Basel opens next week. The Affordable Art Fair, along with Art Antiques London runs 13-19 June, with Masterpiece and Master Paintings Week being staged towards the end of June. So many fairs, so little time.

I hope next year’s dates are better, I hope next year’s promotion is better, and the exhibitors are less provincial. And maybe next year they will send me an invite. And maybe I'll go.