London Art Fair Hoping to Draw Record Crowds; in the Picture: Works for Sale Include, Left, Factories, Lancashire by LS Lowry; New Print Empire State by Nick Walker. Adam Dant Will Be Drawing Visitors for [Pounds Sterling]250 in Aid of Charity the House of Fairy Tales, Below

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THE London Art Fair will celebrate its 21st birthday with its biggest ever range of galleries when it opens today.

There will be more than 100 stands with 1,000 artists' work on sale at the Business Design Centre in Islington.

Organisers expect to attract up to 25,000 visitors.

Special events include exhibitions of photography from the Ukraine and China, and contemporary sculpture from India.

Visitors can browse art from late 20th century British greats LS Lowry, Barbara Hepworth and Patrick Heron alongside emerging artists like Nina Murdoch and Wang Wei.

Adam Dant will be producing on-thespot portraits of visitors to raise money for The House Of Fairy Tales, a not-forprofit firm set up by artist Gavin Turk to champion art for families.

Dant, 41, who lives in Shoreditch, is best known for creating cartoon newspaper Donald Parsnips' Daily Journal.

For [pounds sterling]250, he will paint visitors as a beauty or a beast, or for [pounds sterling]450 you can be captured in sepia ink as both.

He said: "I've drawn in public before India is the worst place because you end up with a crowd of 50 people around you, but I'm used to it.

"It's more like a performance. It really keeps you on your toes as an artist and it's a bit of a luxury to be sat in a space just drawing instead of doing all the extraneous things that go with being an artist." He found about half of people chose to be a beauty, and half a beast. Young children were the most difficult subjects, he added.

"It's not because they move," he said.

"Toddlers are the worst because after a while, they all look the same." Other House Of Fairy Tales events include drawing workshops by Fiona Banner, an artist who presented a printed description of a pornographic film for the Turner Prize.

Jonathan Burton, the fair's director, said there were 112 galleries, compared with 105 last year, despite the difficult economic situation.

"We feel fairly upbeat and positive about this. When you speak to the galleries, what they say is they're not expecting to have the best fair they have ever had. …