From the traditional to the current crop of fashionable Britpackers, the 20th-Century British Art Fair, which opens today, offers a rare opportunity for art enthusiasts to see or buy works of modern British art.
"It's a very unintimidating way to learn about art," says Gay Hutson. "There will be an enormous amount to see, all under one roof. Anyone can come in and look, and ask whatever questions they want in a very informal atmosphere."

Hutson, director and co-founder, had the idea to start up the 20th-Century British Art Fair ten years ago. "Something like this was needed and simply hadn't been done." Today the fair, which is sponsored by The Independent, has established itself as the only British modern art fair in the country with an exhibitor list which reads like a who's who of the art world. Together with the present Sensations exhibition at The Royal Academy, the fair means that this week there is an unprecedented amount and variety of British modern art on show in London.

While Hutson has seen the fair through boom years in the late 1980s and a major economy crisis, today, she is delighted with both the public and art world response to it. "Today's art market is not as crazy as the property market, but it's extremely buoyant. We expect 10,000 people to attend the fair in the next five days and we had to turn away at least 30 dealers."

The 57 dealers at the fair will be showing and selling paintings (2,000 in all are on show) sculpture, ceramics and photography. While the paintings cut across a vastly mixed range of work, this year sees a trend towards the work of Scottish colourists like Peploe and J D Ferguson and the collection of sculptures are also particularly strong - you're unlikely to miss Robin Connelly's wonderful eight foot sculpture on display in the forecourt.

"We also have a lot of work by many of the young Britpack artists," says Hutson. "But there'll be no Myra Hindleys - we tend to have the more traditional of the young artists." By these she means this year's Turner nominees Gillian Wearing, Simon Callery, Gary Hume and Mark Francis, all also exhibiting in Sensations.

For novice or first time art collectors, Hutson assures that the fair is the perfect place to come and make the first tentative steps towards starting a collection. Prices start as low as around pounds 100 for a sketch or a print and the relaxed atmosphere and the buzz of such a large and busy market-type forum means that "talking art" to dealers will seem less gruesome. "There's something for everybody's fancy," says Hutson. "We know that anything really good will go."

To Sunday. The Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7. 11am- 8pm weekdays and 11am-7pm weekends. Contact: 0181-742 1611

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