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.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Today was the day that I thought that I would catch up with all the paper work/bill paying/parcel packing/posting/telephone calls etc,etc, that have been hanging over me for a while.
I have been trying to give myself a couple of clear days so that I could concentrate on different photographs that I have taken over the last month or so.
No Chance.
I did get some of the chores done but not enough, still the end is in sight.
It's not really, but it's nice to pretend.
I know that at 3.am in the morning I will be staring at the ceiling thinking
"I still haven't done that, I must call him, I must send that, bloody hell I didn't reply to "that".
Still, at least in the background I will hear the snoring and murmuring of the dogs in their sleep,
something that does tend to focus my mind on what is really important in my world.

But, it has been one of those days.
Summer? Pouring with rain and very few people venturing out so at least I had few distractions from my chores and at least my conscience is a little clearer for writing some letters.
Every now and then I became distracted [easy for me] and justified to myself that as it wasn't busy I could spend time looking at some of the collected works we have here.
What a treat.
As one visitor who braved the showers told me today
"it must take a lot of work to gather a collection like this".
I don't know. I have never seen it as work. I have just been very lucky and privileged to have stumbled across the right artists who's work moved me, and then been even more lucky in
persuading them in letting me show some of it.

It has had me thinking about what I am looking for.
For instance another gallery owner came in on Saturday and introduced himself for the first time [what a day to choose] he then chatted "art" for an hour or so.
I swear I nodded off in the middle of it [ you can tell why I have no friends].
As I jolted awake at one point he said
"You must do really well with *********** work", he told me getting the artists name wrong.
"No, not really" I replied. ".
"Come on you must do or you wouldn't have it".

"It is here because I love it".
What I had meant was "if I love it then I know it will sell".
It sounds arrogant but that's a fact, we have many strange, varied beautiful works here,
all chosen from my own desire to own them.
Because they are different it takes time for people to appreciate them and get used to them.
But sell they do, because it seems that there are people like myself moved by the art drawn from the spirit and imagination of talented people.
So, with all this in mind I took a little time to study some of the things that we have.

Above are just a few of them.
They are very different and all drawn from the very different ideas of what is beauty.
We have the cottages by Jo March, set in the landscape that I would love to inhabit.
The countryside as we would like it to be, and perhaps as it once was.
Annie Ovenden, with her landscapes that we have all perhaps been lucky enough to have seen
at least once, images that are etched in our memories.
Lastly, the very strange, humorous and very moving world that David Shanahan has managed
to capture, I'm sure that we have all, at least once witnessed something like the strange
scenes that he captures.
All of the pictures in their own way, moving and perhaps just slightly disturbing?
I don't know, I just love them all.

So it seems do other people, as one of them sold during the staggered period that it has taken to write this.


  1. Came across your blog via Jackie Morris'blog and it good to see the perspective of a gallery owner.

    I admire your tenacious spirit in this time of economic depression and hope that your faith in art continues to prosper. Your wife must be of the same spirit, so bravo to her as well.

    I will admit I have a bit of a phobia about art galleries, in that they scare me to death - well commercial galleries.

    I grew up in London and would often visit the Cork st and Convent Garden area. I would sneak in and sneak out, hoping the rather snobby lady or gentleman at the entrance wouldn't see me. If they did, they would stare me down until I surrendered to the pressure building within me to flee. Of course, a lot of this was in my head but they did stare. Not really surprising as I was often there in my paint splattered clothes from college that day. But most importantly, regardless of how I was dress, they never made me welcome.

    So art galleries became a shrine to be avoided until I was in my late 40's and moved to Texas. It was here that I learnt that art galleries are just shops with good art work in them (or not). So now when I am in London I visit those same galleries and actually talk to the those people who stare at you until you are out of the door. There is still some fear there but I am getting over it.

    If ever I am in Long Melford, I know I will see a friendly face and I wouldn't bargain with you, just like I wouldn't barter at the supermarket.

  2. "If I love it, I know it will sell." doesn't sound in the least bit arrogant to me. You choose a piece because it has a grabber on it somewhere that has grabbed you in the heart and made you fall in love with it. It only stands to reason that if it has grabbed you, it will grab somebody else.

  3. I would never stare at anyone Jacqui, in fact the total opposite.
    I am aware that galleries can be intimidating especially when people don't have money but just want to have a look at things.
    I always make sure that I am occupied and turn whatever music I am playing up very slightly so that if partners want to discuss if they can afford something they don't feel that I am listening.
    If people want something or want to know about anything, they will let me know and as a result we usually end up chatting for about an hour.
    I do love to talk about what we show but my golden rule is to leave people alone, and definitely DON'T stare.
    But it seems you can't do the correct thing as I have been told by another shop owner I am rude and ignore people.
    Whenever this person calls in for a chat and someone walks through the door they [other owner] immediately starts talking to them.
    I feel that this then puts the potential customer under pressure and
    can make them feel awkward.
    What do I know? I have been told so many times you must engage with people. Instead I prefer to treat them as I would like to be treated. That is left alone, and with the impression that the owner hasn't even noticed them.
    On the other hand I have had people comment "he talks forever".
    It just depends upon the visitor.
    So if you ever do call in then the chances are that I will be looking at the computer [as now] and I won't appear to have noticed you.
    But if you say hello then make sure you have an hour to spare.
    What you say is correct, we are just shops.
    Sometimes someone will pause at the door and ask "is it OK just to have a look"? My answer is always the same.
    "Of course, I bet you don't say that when you go in the book shop".

  4. You are totally right 'WOL'.
    At times I see different works and something really does move inside me.
    I know that I shall have no peace until I have that object in the shop.
    It's like an itch that must be scratched, and I have no doubt that it will sell. Sometimes it doesn't sell as fast as I expected but that can be a bonus.
    I get to enjoy it for a little longer.
    I learnt very early on only to chose work that I love.
    There is lots of different art that sells really well and is very commercial but I just know that it would not sell for me
    Some years ago I was told by a lady who runs a famous ceramics gallery in London, that there are two ways to sell art.

    "Firstly go for commercial work that has a proven track record".
    She gave me examples of what to go for.
    I told her I couldn't do that as so much of it I disliked.
    "Then you go the other route and choose with your heart. You will be surprised how your heart can sell also".
    So that's the path I have chosen.