A woman in a pink dress standing in front of golden and wooden doors

Nazy Vassegh photographed in the Grand Hall at Two Temple Place. Photo by Alex Board

This May sees the second edition of Eye of the Collector kicking off the summer art season in London. Conceived as a new style of art fair, the concept sees Two Temple Place transformed into an imaginary collector’s home for a boutique style fair. Ahead of the opening, the founder, Nazy Vassegh, tells us why she created this unique fair and the key focus this focus this year

The idea for Eye of the Collector came about from a work trip I took to the opening of the 2019 Venice Biennale. As I wandered around extraordinary palazzi full of carefully curated breath-taking art from all eras, I questioned why art fairs were so formulaic – boring white tents and aisle after aisle of white box booths. My collector friends were also starting to complain to me about suffering from ‘fairtigue’. Given that I worked in what was supposed to be a creative industry, I thought it was time to take action.

A white tree with antlers coming out of the top

Image from Eye of the Collector 2021: Susie MacMurray, The Stalker 2021. Courtesy of Pangolin gallery

Returning to the UK, the search for an appropriate home for Eye of the Collector began. My husband was working in the fashion business at the time and had staged a show during London Fashion Week at Two Temple Place. When he showed me the building and I learnt more about the history of the interior it became quickly clear that this was the perfect home for what we wanted to achieve.

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Built in 1895 for William Waldorf Astor, then one of the richest men in the world, the brief to the architect had been to create ‘the finest building irrespective of cost’. The result is a riot of neo-Gothic panelling, stained glass windows and rare marble mosaic floors created by the finest craftsmen of the time. As a sign of true quality, the supporting pillars of the galleried landing were carved from solid ebony and, in the reinforced safe room, William Waldorf kept the title deeds for most of modern Manhattan.

A wooden room with art on the walls

Image from Eye Viewing Room, 2021 showing the Lower Gallery

My intention had always been to present art and design in a setting that collectors could imagine in the context of their own homes and this fitted the bill perfectly. Owned and run by the Bulldog Trust I also liked the idea that we were re-purposing a historic building and in so doing supporting a charity dedicated to good causes.

After a digital-only edition in 2020, Eye of the Collector finally launched in real life in September 2021. Given all the disruption of the previous eighteen months I really didn’t know what to expect. This was going to be the first real art event in a long time and no-one could predict how collectors and the wider art world would react, especially to something as new as Eye of the Collector.

A red couch in a grey and beige room with art on the wall

A range of art is shown at Eye of the Collector from works by emerging artists to the masterpiece classics

Art and design from modern day to antiquity was presented from thirty international galleries, curated as if in an imaginary collector’s home free of the traditional booths and putting the art centre stage to encourage new collecting pathways and creative artistic juxtapositions. Prices ranged from a few thousand pounds for an original work by an up-and-coming young artist to a few million pounds for an early masterpiece by Lucien Freud. This allowed collectors of all types and at all stages of their collecting journey to engage.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf’s Inside Guide To The Venice Biennale

Our next edition will take place from 11-14 May once again at Two Temple Place, WC2. This time around we are placing an emphasis on female artists. A wide variety of works will be offered for sale including contemporary art, some made especially for the fair, mid-century and modern design, ancient art and studio ceramics.

Find out more: eyeofthecollector.com