START Art Fair’s First Edition Ends On A High Note

London’s latest contemporary art fair START has ended on a high note, after receiving universal praise for its fresh approach. This was reflected in strong sales and attendance of significant international collectors. The preview day saw 2,200 VIP guests through the doors in just 5 hours, with total visitors to the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, over the 5 days exceeding 11,000. Founder of the fair and Executive Director of the Global Eye Programme, David Ciclitira said: “This is our sixth collaboration with Saatchi Gallery, including the blockbuster Korean Eye show, and I have never seen it so busy”
With 46 exhibitors, the focussed approach of the fair allowed for more attention on each exhibitor. Unique social media initiatives, involving artist-created content, connected the fair virtually to audiences who couldn’t attend in person; Igsaan Martin at South African gallery BRUNDYN+ said: “We were delighted with how well our young artists’ works have been received by new audiences. Collector contacts of ours who aren’t at the fair have seen our artists work on social media and have been in touch to ask about prices – this is the first time we have ever had this experience at a fair!”
As well as notable collectors, attendees included the Italian Ambassador, Vietnamese Ambassador, Korean Ambassador and the Singapore High Commissioner. Patrons of MoMA NY and owners of significant private art collections, including Frank Cohen and Anita Zabludowicz, were also amongst the VIPs at the fair.
Delivering its promise as a fair in which to discover and be discovered, many gallerists found new collectors for their artists, both from the UK and overseas. Galerie Absinthe (Korea) said: “The five artists we have exhibited are not known at all in the European market and we weren’t sure how well they’d sell to European collectors. So we were pleasantly surprised that from the very first day we have sold so well. There are so many art fairs all around the world, and the reason we decided to participate in START in London was to make new connections with collectors, curators, journalists and artists from all over the world.”  
Studio Pivot, the youngest gallery at the fair sold works at both ends of their price range (£500-£11,000) to new collectors who had come from outside the UK. Saying: “We were so happy from the beginning; at first it was ‘Wow!’ and now it is ‘Wow, wow, wow!’ Just perfect!”
The dates of next year’s fair have been announced as Thursday 25 – Sunday 28 June, once again taking advantage of falling just after Art Basel and at the same time as Masterpiece and the sales at major London auction houses. The deadline for applications is 1 September 2014.

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