Timothy Barber
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FOR a prospective London art buyer just knowing where to start looking can be baffling, such is the abundance of galleries and the variety of what they offer. Thank goodness, then, for the London Art Fair, opening this week, which makes the job a lot easier by bringing a huge number of the galleries together under one roof.

While October’s Frieze Art Fair, and the events that satellite it, put the focus on the international, the cutting edge and – let’s face it – the very deep pockets needed to participate at the most glamorous end of art collecting, the London Art Fair reflects the vibrancy of the local scene. Over 100 galleries specialising in Modern British and Contemporary art will be exhibiting their artists’ best work, with a special section dedicated to the increasingly collectible medium of art photography and another, Art Projects, featuring work curated around specific themes.

And if you don’t fancy trawling from stand to stand looking for something that really catches your eye, help is at hand. Free (once you’ve entered) guided tours are on offer from organisations including the Contemporary Art Society (which advises collectors and museums), Own Art (the Arts Council’s interest free loan scheme to facilitate collecting) and contemporary specialists MurmurArt.

London Art Fair’s director, Jonathan Burton, has advice for those attending the fair looking to buy.

“It’s something you’’ll live with for some time, so look for something with a bit of depth, that’s more than merely decorative,” he says. “Set yourself a budget and draw up a shortlist of things you see that you like. Use the gallery staff to get more information, they’re always happy to talk and you don’t need to worry about not being an expert.”

London Art Fair opens tomorrow and runs until Sunday at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Day tickets are £11 if purchased in advance or £15 on the door, while a six day pass is £30 in advance, £35 on the door. To book tickets and arrange places on guided tours, go to www.londonartfair.co.uk.