Un-masking ethnographic rarities: Tribal Art London Fair returns to The Mall Galleries, 2-5 September

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Un-masking ethnographic rarities: Tribal Art London Fair returns to The Mall Galleries, 2-5 September
A ceremonial sun form platter, 19TH century, Vanuatu. Carved wood, 31.5 x 36 cm., £ 8, 250. Provenance: Maine Durieu, Paris. Photo: Courtesy Kapil Jariwala.

LONDON.- The UK’s leading art fair devoted to antique tribal and ethnographic art, Tribal Art London, returns to the Mall Galleries, Mayfair for the second time, from 2-5 September 2015. It will be the opening event of the busy Autumn art season in the capital.

This fascinating show, launched in 2014, now boasts 19 exhibitors, all specialist international dealers in the field of tribal art. The Fair welcomes a number of new participants including:

•Gallery Lemaire (Amsterdam): dealers since 1925, one of the oldest tribal art galleries in the world, focusing on objects from New Guinea, Oceania & Indonesia
•Handbury Tribal Art (UK): Sam Handbury-Madin is a young, 3rd generation antiques dealer with a fascination for tribal works from every culture
•Kenn MacKay (UK) – a dealer with wide-ranging interests including African, Oceanic, Pre-Columbian, Himalayan and Latin American tribal art
•Sabine & Anderson (UK) – dealers with a particular speciality in American Indian and South African artefacts

Also returning to the Fair is leading US dealer Wayne Heathcote. Exhibitors at Tribal Art London deal in authentic, original purpose tribal artefacts, textiles and adornment, also contemporary African art, ethnographic photography, specialist books and publications. Works for sale represent tribal cultures from every corner of the globe: the Americas, Africa, Asia, Oceania, Australasia and Europe.

The thousands of collectors who attend the Fair are drawn to the aesthetic qualities and in many cases tactile nature of tribal artefacts that sit so well with modern and contemporary art. Much loved (and often imitated) by fashion and interior designers for their sculptural shapes and simple organic decoration, many tribal pieces such as masks and shields are acquired for their visual impact. Smaller or more complex items such as bead or shell-work crowns and head ware, carved combs, jewellery and metalware make stunning displays when grouped as a collection. Of course collectors of tribal art enjoy the cultural story behind each piece, and how it expresses the characteristics of a people or culture.

Founder and co-organiser Bryan Reeves, of London’s Tribal Gathering gallery, a specialist in African works, first brought a group of like-minded tribal art dealers together in a group show back in 2006, to create a major focal event for UK collectors. Since having to move from Cork Street in 2014, it has re-launched as Tribal Art London, has doubled in size and now offers many thousands of works of art, from the ancient to the contemporary. “It’s exciting we can now host so many more exhibitors in our Mall Galleries venue. We also plan a series of talks and lectures: visitors are keen to acquire a more in-depth knowledge and understanding of the cultures that created many of the works offered for sale, and our exhibitors love to share their knowledge.”

Adam Prout, co-organiser since 2013 and dealer in Oceanic and Asian pieces, says: “We have a dedicated following here in the UK, and are working hard to attract a greater number of international buyers to Tribal Art London. One of the reasons we have moved the 2015 dates to early September is so we can open before Parcours des Mondes, the big tribal gallery-based event in Paris. This will enable international museum and trade buyers as well as collectors to stop in London to visit us, before going on to the Continent.”

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