Visitors to the Fine Arts Fair this weekend will find an artistic demonstration over the Fair's links with the arms trade. Campaigners will dress as artists and paint slogans at their easels to alert visitors to the situation.
The Fine Arts Fair, which will take place at London's Olympia Centre on Saturday (5 June), is owned by Clarion Events. The company also owns a number of arms fairs, including the biennial London arms fair, known formally as Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi).
The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) says that “most people attending the Fine Arts Fair will have no idea that Clarion's business involves promoting anything more offensive than the latest offering from Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin”. The demonstration is organised by CAAT's London Group.
Clarion also own the Baby Show and the Spirit of Christmas Fair, which have attracted demonstrations since Clarion became involved in the arms trade two years ago. The company boast that Clarion Events “has quickly become one of the most influential exhibition and conference companies within the defence and security sector.”
The campaigners emphasise that they are protesting against Clarion rather than against visitors to the Fair, who they will encourage to raise the issue with Clarion.
“We are out to win the arts and minds of those attending!” said Rhiannon Rees of the London CAAT Group, “It will be a light-hearted protest with a serious message - art and arms don't mix”.
DSEi last took place in September, when representatives of at least 15 governments with major conflict or human rights concerns were in attendance, including China, Colombia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Nine months after the attack on Gaza, DSEi hosted a large Israeli pavilion.