Welcome to the Gallery

Imagine is set in the Suffolk village of Long Melford.
This is an attempt to record the daily trials, tribulation and pleasure of running an art gallery.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

I have enjoyed having an "enforced" break from the gallery over the Christmas period.
I do know that I spend too much time here and that it occupies my thoughts constantly
 but it was only having a couple of days away that made me realize that
I live, think, breath, and dream
about the place every minute of each day, which I enjoy, but having a break made me understand
that it maybe doesn't make me an easy person to live with as I don't become involved enough with the normal events of family life.
So it was a pleasure to find that I have a family [and pack of dogs] who enjoyed
me [and my mind] being with them for a while,
as I enjoyed being with them.
However thoughts of the gallery and the coming year were never far from my thoughts
and I think "stepping away" for a little while has helped me focus
on what I want us to do and where we should be going in the coming year.

Trying many years ago to earn a living [supporting a family] as a potter,
and understanding the difficulty of this has left me with a lasting love of ceramics and
the craftsmen [and women] who make it.
I have always wanted us to be recognized as a "ceramics" gallery, and we will until the
day we close show ceramics in all its forms as it gives us great pleasure.
But, this past year has not been great for ceramics in terms of sales, pottery it seems has
become the art that people can live without.
This to a certain extent I can understand. For so many years potters struggled to become
recognized for the artists that they are, then with the advent of the Ceramic Fairs
this slowly changed and potters became not only acknowledged as craftsmen
but also as artists,
which has been both good and bad.
I think [only my thoughts] some people working with clay found it strange to find themselves
suddenly a celebrity and as a result acted as they felt "artists" should,
and as a result lost maybe a little bit of their own integrity, and
as a result perhaps overvalued their work, although of course like everything else the value
is determined to an extent by what the public will pay for something.

I have always felt that pots are to be used and handled daily
to fully enjoy them.
Breaking a pot should be a disappointment not a financial tragedy, but now too often I am
told by people that they own a pot by a "famous" potter and it is kept
in a case or cupboard in case it gets broken.
I can't understand this, as why own something that you can't take pleasure in
on a daily basis?
So it has been a great pleasure for me to have pots by many potters which are well
made, beautifully fired and which are meant to be used daily
and if broken is only a sad loss for an object of beauty.

So thinking about the coming year different potters and their work keep coming to mind,
they are people whose work I want to stock regardless of sales.
In May we have our exhibition of Jim Malone "Cumbrian Potter" which for me is a
dream come true, but aside from him I am determined
to show other people like Stephen Parry and Mark Griffiths, two men who are not only
very good potters but also "generous to a fault" and very nice people.
I would describe them as "gentlemen".
I know that if they ever read this they would both be embarrassed and would hate it.
They are "old fashioned" craftsmen and that's why I like them
and their work.

Pots aside, I definitely want to show more and more ceramic sculpture,
I find it so exciting to think that for a modest outlay you can own a "one of a kind"
I have a mental list of the people whose work I want to [or continue ] show.
Artists like Herman Muys, Emma Rodgers, Eve Shepherd, Fidelma Massey as well as
lesser known [in this country] people like
Harm van der Zeeuw.
So with my thoughts organised I'm looking forward to what the New Year holds for us
[in terms of ceramics that is].

Having said all of this I have just put out on display our most unlikely and unexpected
piece of ceramic art, a teapot by the artist
Tracy Emin.
Now that's not something you see everyday, and if I dropped it then it would
be a financial loss.
Just call me a hypocrite.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

I have so wanted to put pictures on over the last week, the snow has been so like Christmas.
Unfortunately it hasn't been the best thing to happen in terms of sales, never the less we have enjoyed it. Little things like taking our 3 dogs [Old English Sheepdogs] out for a walk has been an extra pleasure with the knowledge that we won't be returning home with "muddy paws", has been an added bonus, also for the first time this year the garden has looked pretty.
Apart from this Long Melford has looked "a picture", the epitome of an English village at Christmas, all we needed was Santa arriving on the green and it would have been the perfect setting for a child at Christmas.
Alas, I haven't been out with the camera, it has taken so long to get here each day I haven't had the luxury of wandering around.
Of course the problem has been that it has been hard for anyone to reach us, so over the last week
a lot of sales have been concluded via the Internet and telephone.
Never the less, it has been a very enjoyable run up to Christmas and I have seen many beautiful works of art disappear, which is a strange experience, as of course I want to sell things but at the same time I love them and miss them when they have gone.
I have many little stories and things that I want to mention, but I have still not shopped for Christmas dinner, and with only an hour to go before the country shuts down I think that I had better leave them until Monday.
So with a last minute posting this is what the window looks like before I close for the day.
We have the "Angel Hares" by Karen Fawcett, which though  childish are so very well crafted
it is impossible not to love them.
The other pieces are by Louise Richardson, the larger piece in the glass case I will show in detail after Christmas, the other is a fairy like bodice made entirely from human hair.
It has sold to a local hairdresser, with very good taste I must add.

Merry Christmas to all.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

I have tried taking more pictures of the gallery at Christmas time, but without much success,
it has made me realize that I am not any good at this kind of photography
or maybe I don't like taking pictures of things that are too personal, I don't know, maybe they were just crap and I can't admit it.
This is stupid, at this rate I will be admitting that I am normal with failings like everyone else,
something that my ego wouldn't allow.
So I will show a couple of pictures that aren't too bad and which give an idea of what we are
showing, along with a picture that I adore of 'Peter Pan' which I feel that the season
allows me to show. It is a print [ yes we sell them ] by a famous artist named
Robert Gould
it is one of an edition of 50 and is about 20 years old and from what I can make out is the only
one available anywhere. I love the innocence of it, and it is one of those things that we have from time to time that " I couldn't care less " if it sold or not, it is a pleasure
to look at.
Having said that I think one of the greatest pleasures to come from having a gallery
is that every evening after I have locked the door,
[usually about two hours before I leave] I can walk around and admire all these different pieces
of art that are in my care. I can stand and stare at a painting and caress a sculpture
and have all of the pleasure that comes with owning such a piece.
Sadly none of them will ever be mine, although many times we talk about buying something
for ourselves it is always put off  "for when things are better".
I don't think such a day will exist because running a gallery is like feeding a steam engine,
you have to keep stoking the hole all the time and in our case the hole
needs money, money for all the vultures that are convinced that a small business makes
lots of money, especially when art is involved.

What does keep us going is the kindness, generosity and support of a small group of
artists and craftsmen, people like us who are trying hard to make a living 
but who believe in what we are trying to achieve and do everything to help us achieve
it, which is to show a selection of some of the most exciting, varied
and unusual art that is being produced by dedicated serious artists throughout the country.

I don't know, I seem to have got myself a little over excited there, perhaps I'm taking things too seriously, but I do strongly believe in what we are trying to do in what
after all is a rural gallery. Just because people chose to live in the countryside doesn't
mean that they don't love and desire the same works of art that are usually
found in a city.
Another thing that is really starting to help and make a difference is our
participation in the 'Own Art' scheme
which is run by the Arts Council, this is all about encouraging people who are not in a position to spend lots of money to be able to purchase art over a period of time without paying any interest charges, it is a fantastic scheme and it has been really gratifying to
hand over a piece of work to someone who had felt that such a thing was beyond their means,
but now could afford it.
getting off my "soapbox" for a minute I will just mention something about the above pictures.
Firstly there is 'Peter Pan'.
Followed by a shot of there rear of the gallery [today],
then two pictures of sculptures in the smaller windows, these are by Jan Mayle a sculptor
who has little idea of how good her work is and who always tells me
"you don't have to take them".
These are from her ' Travels With My Aunt Series ',
lastly is a Raven by Karen Fawcett, a sculptor who has had more than her fair share of problems recently, but who has thrown herself into her work to try and help
us out at this time of the year, more of her work will arrive this week and I will endeavour to show some of it as soon as I can along with some other beautiful pieces that will be arriving in the next couple of days.
For me it seems like Christmas has come early.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Hollis, the American potter who is bored enough to follow this blog has suggested that I show pictures of the gallery during the festive season, Jackie Morris the artist has also said that she thinks that it would be nice to see pictures of the Christmas window as it changes with the comings and goings of different art over this period.
This does sound like a good idea but I do hate showing pictures of the gallery.
I feel so defensive of it and the work in it, I love the space and the work in it and I feel it can only all be appreciated by a visit which of course is not possible for most people.
I have yet to take, or see photographs taken by others that show the place as it really is [or maybe how it is in my mind].
However, here are a couple of snaps plus detail pictures of a work that appears in them as the gallery looks today as Christmas approaches.
At the moment it seems rather strange as things are disappearing at a faster than normal rate and I find it a bit difficult to fill the gaps with work that looks right amongst the surrounding pieces.
I mustn't complain we spend so many days with people "just looking" that is nice to have the problem of knowing what to put on display.
The main window is always a worry as it is what is shown there that makes the decision for most people of should they come inside or not.
Our original Christmas window display was dominated by 'BEING' the magical dress with wings created by Louise Richardson, this would have sold many times over but it has gone to a good home, the lucky purchaser is someone famous who had their own reasons for buying such an unusual piece.
To replace this Jackie Morris has sent us one of her magnificent Hare drawings and much as I want to sell it I also know that I will miss it when it goes.
Still that's what "gallery life" is all about, for a short time having the pleasure of being able to enjoy art that you can't afford.

The first picture is by Cliff Wright the man responsible for the original Harry Potter
book covers, it is called
'Father Christmas ?'
Not many people can understand why, Cliff has told me that so far only one person has been
able to see the true meaning in the picture.
Isn't it obvious? 

Thursday, 10 December 2009

I'm not sure if I enjoy the Christmas experience as far as the gallery goes, everything seems to be a constant state of flux as pieces go and are then replaced by something totally different.
Usually there is some sort of theme or feel to the place but at the moment that seems to have "gone out of the window" as I try to second guess the public and put out something that I think might appeal.
As an owner there are always certain pieces that I really love, to the extent that I don't care if they never sell which is a "little silly" to say the least as our existence depends upon people paying for, then walking out of the door with things that I love and admire.
There was a time when I was displaying art that my heart wasn't really involved with, this was because I knew that certain kinds of art would sell so I was catering for people who wanted to own things that I didn't like.
It must be obvious to most people that that was a "recipe for disaster", but at the time I couldn't see it, but I did recognize that it made me unhappy.
Those days are now long behind me and everything that we show now I am proud and happy to be showing, I like to feel that everything that we display has been made with integrity and skill.
It is hard to be able to show even a fraction of the different work that we have on display but here are a few examples of what I have pointed the camera at earlier today.
The first picture is the finished sculpture by Eve Shepherd that I have shown earlier before it was completed, something that I find really fascinating, to be able to hold in my hands a sculpture that I had seen being created.
The other sculpture is by Antonio Lopez Reche, a Minotaur, then for something totally different a clock by Nigel Graham, it is made from silver and gold and contains more precious stones including diamonds than I can remember.
The last sculpture is a head "RED" by Anonia Hockton, it is carved from limestone and is so lovely and simple, although the colouring may seem strange it is the same as the pigments used
by medieval masons on the work seen in cathedrals worldwide, it is no surprise that a lot of Antonia's work is seen in Churches throughout the UK.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

I'm getting a little bit lapse at this blogging lark, it started with the intention of being a daily entry but then as it does, life got in the way, or more to the point writing about my day didn't allow me to have one.
Now I'm telling lies, I don't have any trouble with writing about my days but I do have a problem with recording them with pictures, what makes this harder is that because it is peoples work and art that I want to show images of I feel obligated to try and show their work in the best way I can,
this takes time as I am rarely happy with a picture because I think that the original work always looks better.
So day after day, come the evening I think "I can't do the 'blog' as I haven't any pictures.
Today I decided to go with what I have and then play 'catch up' from tomorrow.

Anyway, things here [on gallery land] have started to get a bit hectic, we have had new art arriving daily, which has been exciting it has made each day feel like Christmas day, then we had our Christmas opening last Sunday, an event I did intend to take pictures of but I seemed to spend too much time out the back wrapping things and not enough time out front talking
which I love to do, as a result I have nothing to show from that day.

Since I started writing this I have been interrupted to do a couple of sales which has really
re-enforced in my mind I must take pictures while we still have some of these lovely works,
which I must admit is a very nice feeling because after all everything here is intended to be sold but sometimes I do fall in love with something myself and when it sells I really feel a sense of loss, still maybe one day I will be able to afford something of my own.
Despite what a lot of artists think there isn't any money in running a gallery, just a lot of pleasure. 
So just a quick view of a "few" works that we have at the moment, from the top. Paul Harvey's
magnificent [very large] Red Kite, then some beautiful unusual ceramics by Claire Baker, followed by a rare early dish by John Maltby and lastly a sculpture called 'Bird Boy' that I find really moving by Antonio Lopez Reche.
Right, I'm off to walk the dogs in the dark and the rain, something none of us will enjoy, but tomorrow I will get the camera out.
I have been known to lie.