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ANF Blog

Fair Ladies - Mary Claire Boyd of Clarion Events

Mary Claire Boyd has been a fair organiser on behalf of Clarion Events, and Fair Director of the Art & Antiques Fair Olympia for over 25 years. 

We talk to Mary Claire about her background and successful career as a fair organiser...

Image Courtesy: The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia

Mary Claire Boyd of Clarion Events


ANF: What was your first job with Clarion and how did it evolve into being the director of the 2 Olympia events, Antiques for Everyone and AfE London part of Clarion Global Arts Portfolio?

MCB:  My first job was working on a Black Tie Gala Event within the fair which involved being on site which I just loved. I then got involved in all the various areas helping out as required then finally moving into the sales team where I continued to build up relationships with the dealers and from there into the role of Fair Director.

Antiques News & Fairs - Fair Ladies - Mary Claire Boyd

Image Courtesy: The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia

ANF: With Summer Olympia on the near horizon, what are the key features you think have changed over the 30+ years it has been running?

MCB:  The trade itself has changed immeasurably. The internet for one didn't exist so trading had to be done via shops and fairs now it can be done via web as well as fairs, which remain so important for building long term relationships with clients. Fashions change in antiques as they do in other sectors and how stock is presented is very different now. The audience has changed as well. In the 1980 and 90s the Americans were huge buyers but 9/11 put a stop to that, but the market has become more global.

ANF: Summer Olympia 2017 sees a new series of interior designer talks with high profile names taking part including Henrietta Spencer Churchill, Douglas Mackie, Christopher vane Percy, April Russel, Emma Burns from Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler, Susie Rumbold and Caroline de Cabarrus from Hotspur Design. What has been the benefit to the overall success of the fair of the talks programme in recent years? Do you think visitor numbers have increased due to the quality of these events?ANF: Could you imagine doing anything else now?

MCB:  Our visitor numbers are fairly steady now and much of our focus is on really giving them the best experience and helping them to feel confident to shop. Education is an important element of our visitor strategy. We've been building up our talks programme for a few years now and attracting national museum curators. We believe there is a need for visitors to get advice from experts into fitting antiques into interiors so we expect the response to our first interior design series to be very positive.

Antiques News & Fairs - Fair Ladies - Mary Claire Boyd

Image Courtesy: The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia

ANF: The websites for all editions of the fairs you manage have been completely re-designed with a much embellished content level including Meet the Dealers, Meet the Designers, Meet the Experts and gallery sections for all events. Have you seen increased interaction as a result of this investment?

MCB:  Even a long running fair like Olympia, or especially a fair like ours, needs to stay relevant and how we interact with our visitors is key. The dealers play such an important part and their knowledge is often overlooked so its part of our strategy to give as much insight and benefit from the fair as well as to give antiques an interiors context.

ANF: Organising high profile antiques fairs is a stressful occupation and sometimes events beyond your control have potential for chaos! How do you manage a crisis and can you delegate to your team?

MCB:  It is very rarely a dull job! I think managing a crisis is about experience and trusting the team around you. We have a highly experienced team with a broad range of skills and expertise who all work well together. Within Clarion too there is great back up and support for all scenarios as well being in a professional venue such as Olympia. Everyone is well briefed before the eventand knows what they need to do should there be a problem.

Antiques News & Fairs - Fair Ladies - Mary Claire Boyd

Image Courtesy: The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia

ANF: Having touched on the stressful part, what do you enjoy most about your job?

MCB:  Being on site at the fair I love. It is great spending time with our clients – the exhibitors. When you have planned something for over a year in advance and everyone has worked so hard, seeing it come together is always rewarding. Spending a week working amongst thousands of one-off, beautiful pieces and with a hall-full of dealers is both fun and inspiring for me as they are passionate about what they do.

ANF: People often say the antiques trade is a multi-layered club, do you agree and who are the members in your own club who have been with you for the longest time?

MCB:  I think it is only a club in the nicest sense in that anyone can join it. There is a whole world of art and antiques there to be discovered by anyone who wants to. It is at its core, a shared passion. I have built up relationships with dealers and members of the trade over the years and value those hugely. Likewise, collectors build up long-lasting relationships through fairs as do interior designers who know they need dealers to find things for them. People stay in this trade a long time because it is slightly addictive and always interesting so we have some long standing team members as well as many exhibitors and vetters.

Antiques News & Fairs - Fair Ladies - Mary Claire Boyd

Image Courtesy: The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia

ANFYou were are the helm for the launch of AfE London - Art Antiques Interiors Fair in January 2017. How does this event differ from AfE Birmingham? Are there plans for this new event to take place 3 times a year as per AfE Birmingham?

MCB:  Its always exciting launching an event as there is no real blue print and although we had the NEC AFE’s as a guide we wanted to give it a London twist and to broaden the scope of the fair by attracting dealers who hadn’t yet got involved with the NEC fairs. Certainly if there is the demand for more AFE London fairs we will run them – once crossrail comes into existence in December 2017 it will add to the accessibility of Excel from across London.

ANF: Organising fairs is hard work. What hobbies do you have to relax and take your mind off work?

MCB:  I try to keep fit by running round the New Forest at dawn twice a week. I enjoy sailing, I try to garden a bit ably assisted by, in order of helpfulness, two dogs and a husband. I also really enjoy relaxing with friends.

ANF: Is there any one person who you would say has been a major influence on your career?

MCB:  It is hard to single out one person but I think the key people are Victoria Borwick who was Fair Director when I joined. I learnt a huge amount from her about running fairs in general, Leslie Weller as who was Fair Chairman for many years with his depth of knowledge and respect for antiques and dealers and then most recently Chris Gallon on how to be a Fair Director – which I am still learning!

 

To learn more about the Clarion portfolio of events globally visit Clarion Events.

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Antiques News Blog

Fair Ladies - Mary Claire Boyd of Clarion Events

Mary Claire Boyd has been a fair organiser on behalf of Clarion Events, and Fair Director of the Art & Antiques Fair Olympia for over 25 years. 

We talk to Mary Claire about her background and successful career as a fair organiser...

Image Courtesy: The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia

Mary Claire Boyd of Clarion Events


ANF: What was your first job with Clarion and how did it evolve into being the director of the 2 Olympia events, Antiques for Everyone and AfE London part of Clarion Global Arts Portfolio?

MCB:  My first job was working on a Black Tie Gala Event within the fair which involved being on site which I just loved. I then got involved in all the various areas helping out as required then finally moving into the sales team where I continued to build up relationships with the dealers and from there into the role of Fair Director.

Antiques News & Fairs - Fair Ladies - Mary Claire Boyd

Image Courtesy: The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia

ANF: With Summer Olympia on the near horizon, what are the key features you think have changed over the 30+ years it has been running?

MCB:  The trade itself has changed immeasurably. The internet for one didn't exist so trading had to be done via shops and fairs now it can be done via web as well as fairs, which remain so important for building long term relationships with clients. Fashions change in antiques as they do in other sectors and how stock is presented is very different now. The audience has changed as well. In the 1980 and 90s the Americans were huge buyers but 9/11 put a stop to that, but the market has become more global.

ANF: Summer Olympia 2017 sees a new series of interior designer talks with high profile names taking part including Henrietta Spencer Churchill, Douglas Mackie, Christopher vane Percy, April Russel, Emma Burns from Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler, Susie Rumbold and Caroline de Cabarrus from Hotspur Design. What has been the benefit to the overall success of the fair of the talks programme in recent years? Do you think visitor numbers have increased due to the quality of these events?ANF: Could you imagine doing anything else now?

MCB:  Our visitor numbers are fairly steady now and much of our focus is on really giving them the best experience and helping them to feel confident to shop. Education is an important element of our visitor strategy. We've been building up our talks programme for a few years now and attracting national museum curators. We believe there is a need for visitors to get advice from experts into fitting antiques into interiors so we expect the response to our first interior design series to be very positive.

Antiques News & Fairs - Fair Ladies - Mary Claire Boyd

Image Courtesy: The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia

ANF: The websites for all editions of the fairs you manage have been completely re-designed with a much embellished content level including Meet the Dealers, Meet the Designers, Meet the Experts and gallery sections for all events. Have you seen increased interaction as a result of this investment?

MCB:  Even a long running fair like Olympia, or especially a fair like ours, needs to stay relevant and how we interact with our visitors is key. The dealers play such an important part and their knowledge is often overlooked so its part of our strategy to give as much insight and benefit from the fair as well as to give antiques an interiors context.

ANF: Organising high profile antiques fairs is a stressful occupation and sometimes events beyond your control have potential for chaos! How do you manage a crisis and can you delegate to your team?

MCB:  It is very rarely a dull job! I think managing a crisis is about experience and trusting the team around you. We have a highly experienced team with a broad range of skills and expertise who all work well together. Within Clarion too there is great back up and support for all scenarios as well being in a professional venue such as Olympia. Everyone is well briefed before the eventand knows what they need to do should there be a problem.

Antiques News & Fairs - Fair Ladies - Mary Claire Boyd

Image Courtesy: The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia

ANF: Having touched on the stressful part, what do you enjoy most about your job?

MCB:  Being on site at the fair I love. It is great spending time with our clients – the exhibitors. When you have planned something for over a year in advance and everyone has worked so hard, seeing it come together is always rewarding. Spending a week working amongst thousands of one-off, beautiful pieces and with a hall-full of dealers is both fun and inspiring for me as they are passionate about what they do.

ANF: People often say the antiques trade is a multi-layered club, do you agree and who are the members in your own club who have been with you for the longest time?

MCB:  I think it is only a club in the nicest sense in that anyone can join it. There is a whole world of art and antiques there to be discovered by anyone who wants to. It is at its core, a shared passion. I have built up relationships with dealers and members of the trade over the years and value those hugely. Likewise, collectors build up long-lasting relationships through fairs as do interior designers who know they need dealers to find things for them. People stay in this trade a long time because it is slightly addictive and always interesting so we have some long standing team members as well as many exhibitors and vetters.

Antiques News & Fairs - Fair Ladies - Mary Claire Boyd

Image Courtesy: The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia

ANFYou were are the helm for the launch of AfE London - Art Antiques Interiors Fair in January 2017. How does this event differ from AfE Birmingham? Are there plans for this new event to take place 3 times a year as per AfE Birmingham?

MCB:  Its always exciting launching an event as there is no real blue print and although we had the NEC AFE’s as a guide we wanted to give it a London twist and to broaden the scope of the fair by attracting dealers who hadn’t yet got involved with the NEC fairs. Certainly if there is the demand for more AFE London fairs we will run them – once crossrail comes into existence in December 2017 it will add to the accessibility of Excel from across London.

ANF: Organising fairs is hard work. What hobbies do you have to relax and take your mind off work?

MCB:  I try to keep fit by running round the New Forest at dawn twice a week. I enjoy sailing, I try to garden a bit ably assisted by, in order of helpfulness, two dogs and a husband. I also really enjoy relaxing with friends.

ANF: Is there any one person who you would say has been a major influence on your career?

MCB:  It is hard to single out one person but I think the key people are Victoria Borwick who was Fair Director when I joined. I learnt a huge amount from her about running fairs in general, Leslie Weller as who was Fair Chairman for many years with his depth of knowledge and respect for antiques and dealers and then most recently Chris Gallon on how to be a Fair Director – which I am still learning!

 

To learn more about the Clarion portfolio of events globally visit Clarion Events.

Save

Save