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, 29 April 2010

It has been so long since my last entry I almost forgot how to log in.
There have been a number of reasons for leaving it so long, in fact too many to remember,
 but I do recall one of the reasons was that I started to question the wisdom of a gallery owner blogging. After all blogs are for artists not galleries, galleries have web-sites.
I have always disliked the blogs that blatantly shout "look at me, I'm a star I am" so I had resolved that I would try not to go down that road, in fact I wanted to do what blogging was intended for.
Keeping a journal and record of events, and that I have enjoyed.
But as a gallery owner I have realized that talking about events and people can be a silly thing.
We live in an Internet age, and we all know that it is cheaper going direct. Don't we?
So I suppose that I shouldn't have been surprised when some artists started asking for certain
pieces back as they "have managed to find a private buyer".
Odd that it was always pieces that I had shown and talked about.
Even stranger, a gallery owner started approaching the artist's that we stock telling them that she was a friend of mine and that I had recommended that she should approach them.
She was believed because she was able to talk about me and the gallery.
Of course,
I have never heard of her or her gallery, so how stupid am I?
Mum always told me I talk too much.

Of course as with everything in life there are always exceptions, exceptions and nice people.
One example being when one of my favourite artists was approached for a private sale of a piece of work that we held.
She told the would be buyer that the picture was only available
from Imagine Gallery.
" I know what she was up to, she was hoping to cut out 'the middle man', but it just so happens that I like my middle man". The artist told me.
How nice and generous was that?
Everything works both ways and that sort of loyalty is repaid in kind.
People like that artist are 'championed in the gallery, if there are any disrespectful comments about their work then the public are directed towards the door, usually in a not too polite manner. Sometimes it's nice to be rude, and I just feel "how dare they" be disrespectful about the work of these incredible people.
I suppose I have let these thoughts play on my mind too much, after all the great majority of people are full of nothing but praise about the work we show.
As an example, recently a lady came to the desk to thank me for showing such beautiful things,
" if it wasn't for you we wouldn't know these things existed".
Those few words sum up everything that I want to do: 
To show beautiful art that is rarely seen, from around the world, so that people can enjoy and marvel at it as I do.
Hey! If they buy one now and again that's not bad either.

So just how have I let a few negative things change my perception of things. " I dunno", but recently I have given a lot of thought about what 'enlightened' people consider art.
One things for sure they won't find it in my gallery as I intend to carry on showing work
that moves the heart [well at least my heart] regardless of how regarded or not the artist is.

If you own or work for another gallery "please look away now" or at least follow your heart
not mine, likewise if you want to puchase art 'on the cheap'.
"Well that's made me feel better", even if it only makes sense to a few individuals.

So where was I?
ALICE? Bin there done [doing] that.
Things are moving on at a pace, part of my mind is occupied with our next exhibition
Jim Malone 2010 Exhibition.
Where we will be showing the ceramics of one of the worlds greatest and most famous potters.
This exhibition has now gathered a momentum of its own, my article [6 pages ] about it has been published and is out there "on the street".
In regards of promoting this exhibition I can do no more, so I can rest in the knowledge that
however it works out I did everything that "I" could.
Mind you, I still have the invitation to produce, six pages with an insert.

What has been occupying my thoughts more is the exhibition that follows that, even though it's
not until July different things have to be set in motion now.
So my work [good thing I haven't got a real job] this week has been to produce a page advertisement for the magazine 'Ceramic Review'.
This has to be good, but a lot of it is out of my hands as I am dependant upon the pictures that I am sent by the artists.
The exhibition is titled 'SCULPTOR' and we will be showing ceramic sculptures by some of the worlds leading artists.
I would hate to favour one over another but really it is to be a showcase of two great talents.
All the artists involved have been sending me images and I have felt a little like
'The Three Bears'.
Too small, too large, and nothing just right.
So after producing 16 different versions of the advertisement I will show you the one I think
[only think] I will use.
I will have to sleep on it plus put it to the family committee before I am certain but in all its glory here it is.
Below it are images that I nearly [still might] use.
Feedback would be appreciated, I will of course ignore it but, it would be appreciated.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

opened at last on Sunday, a day that now seems years ago. It was one of those exhibitions that
had me thinking "never again".
Group shows are always hard to bring together as they can  involve so many different artists
all who have other projects of their own to pursue so getting the date and timings right for everyone can be a nightmare. But we got there and it was all worthwhile on the day.
Although I wasn't able to enjoy it and look at things objectively until the day after.
Openings are funny things, you have many people who have become friends turn up and the desire is to chat with them all, but in reality only a few minutes is spent with each person as you notice someone else walk in who you would like to welcome,
so I end up "flitting' from one to another 
without having a proper conversation.
The day was made special by the number of artists who attended, including the artist 
Rima Staines, and Karen Witty, who had both travelled hundreds of miles
from opposite ends of the country.
They are both incredibly talented, and are full of ideas. It excites me to talk with them.

Talking of talking.
I have just been interrupted by a phone call from Jackie Morris.
I think that we talked for too long as I notice it is now getting dark and when I started to write
it seemed like early evening.
Well at least it was still light outside.
We had much to talk of, me the opening and Jackie some fantastic news that she has had.
"It's a secret", she told me,
"so don't tell anyone".
I will try to keep my mouth shut for at least a day, then I will tell you all.
One thing that I can mention is that it means her art is going to increase in value.
So "get em" while you still can. 
Jackie is bringing me some fantastic new pictures which I will definitely show when they arrive.
She was a 'bit of a bugger' as she kept asking
"would you like the picture of................."?
It was like being a child in a sweetshop, I wanted them all.
I think that she is going to bring everything that we spoke of.
I had better empty the walls quick, as I don't know where we will hang them all.
But I'm sure I will manage somehow.

Above are a few snaps of ALICE exhibits, I wasn't able to photograph the opening as the camera
had packed up, so maybe these will just give an idea of the "oddity's" on show.
Everything but the normal.
After all it is Alice in Wonderland.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

It has been another few "whirlwind" days and at the moment I am feeling pretty "car lagged"
if there is such a thing. I have been collecting more ALICE items from various people in different places, I think a short while ago that I visited Yorkshire, and I definitely remember going to sleep at a junction on the M25 last night while I awaited the arrival of a sculptor from Wales.
Tonight should see the arrival of the very last pieces of art, this time I have the luxury of waiting in the gallery until it arrives.
The last pieces are from Louise Richardson and her family.
She is the daughter of an artist and is married to an artist, the whole family are contributing to the exhibition with the exception of the children [unless I haven't been told]
and I just know, that everything will be unusual and worth waiting for.

I hope to do one last ALICE post before the exhibition but if I don't find the time
[I don't have time to sleep at the moment]
I will say now that we do have some beautiful and incredibly varied things to show,
and I would like to just say a BIG thank you to everyone involved.
I know that I haven't as yet mentioned you all, but I will, and I want to because your combined works have given me so much pleasure, even before we opened.
I must admit that there are 'Red Dots' appearing already because people are coming in saying
"I'm out on opening day so could I reserve......"?
Something that is both good and bad, at least it gives an indication of the level of interest.

I do have some wonderful things that I want to show but I have still to take pictures.
I will make sure that there is at least a few 'snaps' to be seen before the opening.
But until then I will show the invitation [inside pages].
So if you haven't had one in the post then this is for you.
If you manage to make the opening and can't find me, then look on the floor behind the counter
where I will be found curled up asleep, most likely with a bottle of wine.
After all it did say "Drink Me" on the label.

Despite the pressure/fun/tension that has occupied me with the build up to the opening
one other very important thing has happened.
The first pictures from Michael Parkes have arrived at the gallery.
I can honestly say that nothing had prepared me for the beauty that the hold.
Seeing pictures of them was good but the reality was so, so much better.
They are very gentle and so very beautiful.
Now that we are one of a few galleries in the world to be showing his work I will make time
to show some of his art as we receive it.
I feel very lucky and privileged to display it.

So here are a couple of the pictures that have just arrived from him and beneath it your own
invitation to the ALICE exhibition.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Where have the last few days gone?
I "dunno".
The week has been a bit of a blur, I do know that it has been dominated by ALICE events
but I'm not sure what happened on what day, or when I did what.

Blimey! I'm even starting to write in an Alice confused way.
Well at least I'm confused
I'm trying to remember what things have been delivered and what things I have been to collect
from around the country, I think that it is tiredness that has me trying to concentrate.
"Right", I do remember that I had some incredibly beautiful Alice tiles arrive from
Iris Milward.
I love everything that she produces, but this time it was exceptional.
I will not say more as I haven't yet taken any photographs of what arrived,
just wait and see.

The last day and night have been taken up with a "whistle" stop tour of Somerset, Devon, and?
Well, I'm not sure what counties I visited to be honest,  thanks to the magic of Satnav,
but I do know that I met some lovely artists, photographed some incredible workshops
[I mean Studios]
drove through some beautiful countryside, and all on one of the nicest this year has offered.
After four hours driving and a night sleeping in the car in a motorway car park
I was delivered breakfast by the lovely Claire Baker.
Claire who is still in the early stages of he new career makes the most exciting ceramics.
In spite of the fact she has only been producing this work for a year or so
she has already made a large impact on the "art scene", and has been taken up by many galleries and stores including Liberty of London.
I just know that she is going on to great things, and they couldn't happen to a nicer individual.
Claire was the instigator and inspiration behind the whole Alice exhibition.
After next weekend I will have to kiss her [poor girl] or hit her as never has an event
occupied my imagination as much as this.
But it has all been fun, so thank you for that Claire.
Her work has to be seen to be appreciated, it looks so old
yet very contemporary at the same time.
It attracts children of all ages, it is the stuff that dreams are made from.

Having collected Claire's ceramics as well as her lovely breakfast I waved goodbye and continued on my adventures into beautiful Devon.
Well it certainly was beautiful on this chosen day, it reminded me of what it was like to have a holiday. 
Days long in the past unfortunately, but at least having my "little trips"
gives the batteries a charge up now and again.
Next stop was at the cottage of Ross Emerson.
Ceramic clock maker.
Arriving at his home and finding him and his wife enjoying coffee on a terrace overlooking
woodland had me thinking what I have always thought in the past
" an artists life is ideal".
I now understand and appreciate that this isn't the case, but for just a minute or so I did think
"sod it I'm going to be an artist".
Ross is one of the nicest, gentle [if I'm allowed to say that about a male] makers of ceramics
that I have come across.
He is thoughtful and considerate, certainly the piece that he had made for the exhibition had
been given a lot of thought, and time and effort.
It was lovely that he had gone to such trouble to produce a "one off" for our exhibition.
I enjoyed my short stop.
I wasn't able to stay too long as Ross was going Salmon fishing for the afternoon.
"Hey ho", an artists life for me.
Apart from his work and lovely cottage the most memorable thing was his beautiful studio,
set in a valley looking out into the trees.
He told me that building in that situation was a great idea  when he was younger but now he regrets it every time he has to carry work up the long track to the house.
"Great", I thought, at least not everything is perfect.
Ross lives with a very talented wife who makes string instruments [violins etc], and with their
combined abilities they have created an artists haven.
I will return, photograph them and their home and tell you more about there lives.
One day.

After leaving I ate my breakfast [very late] on a hillside overlooking the fields and valleys,
with buzzards drifting, spring lambs calling and a light mist rising.
It was the few minutes spent doing this that will give me images in my mind for years to come.

Next was a long promised call at the home of Amanda Popham.
Amanda the potter.
It is strange that if I where to mention her to many of the "big names" in the ceramic world
few will know of her existence.
But what is a delight to me is that she "outsells" them all.
Her work sells to the "ordinary public" who aren't aware of what they should like or dislike.
Well, that's not totally true as her work is collected worldwide and often appears in auction rooms in London.
Her work is delightful and very childlike, I keep telling myself that I must buy a piece
for myself, before it is too late [expensive].
I love it, it moves me very much, and I am really proud that in September she is having a
'One Woman Show' of her ceramics with us.
Amanda has given us a "very" unusual Alice jug for the exhibition.
If it is here long I will be very surprised as we have more collectors than we have ceramics.

That was the last of the days good points,
what remained was hours of driving, including being in a "traffic jam" for an hour while passing
I couldn't help but feel very sad looking out of the car window at this monument,
surrounded by wire and tourists, and with a three mile line of cars a 150 metres away.
Something has gone wrong.

Still for me something was right
 after twenty six hours and six hundred miles I had the treat of three
Old English Sheepdogs
excited to see me when I arrived home.
Some things in life are very good.

Above are the clock by Ross, his studio. Pieces by Claire and Amanda's jug.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

I was going write a long and VERY interesting  post all about me and my photographs.
But luckily something far better has happened so I will mention that .
But whatever, me first.

A year ago I was driving around the area photographing hundreds of images that Karen Fawcett
was then going to use to create illustrations for a booklet that we produced.
The booklet was to be used for a [Kit Williams] style treasure hunt that we were going to hold.
In fact we did hold it and it is still ongoing, but that's another story.
Karen lives far away and as she couldn't be here to see and paint different scenes so I undertook
to photograph as much of the area as I could so that she had something to base her paintings upon.
We had a deadline with the printer so I had to have everything to Karen by a set date.
Things were fine until snow started. Started and didn't finish.
I spoke with Karen and she told me that if I could still get pictures then she would be able to use them, in fact the snow changed a little of what we were doing for the better.
So I drove wherever I could and snapped away, however I was restricted to more local areas.
My local area happens to be a village called Lavenham, in fact we live outside the village in the country, which doesn't mean that the village isn't in the country it is.
It is amazing how such a small place draws visitors all year, from around the world,
this is mainly due to the "chocolate box" nature of the architecture, which although nice
does after a while seem ordinary, but I suppose that's because we don't see it as outsiders do.

Whatever, back to the pictures.
Because of the snow and my fear of driving in it I decided to stay really local and went into Lavenham to take as many different pictures as I could.
These were only intended as snaps and were taken hurriedly and without any great thought other
than to get something that could be used as a basis to paint from.
Later that day as I was going through the pictures to mail on to Karen
one of them caught my eye.
It was of the Guildhall in the village square.
I liked it and decided to treat it a bit more seriously, so I enlarged it and made a print from it.
It has since gone on to become a book cover.
But more importantly it has become Harry Potters birthplace.
Unbeknown to us "yokels" the village was filmed in January, with the snow still on the ground to be Harry Potters childhood hometown.
Harry's home, or the house of his parents is the Guildhall.
To think that I have been here all this time and didn't know this.
Blimey, it's not even mentioned in the tourist guide, but then we are country folk.
So here we have it.
Harry's, Mum and Dads place [they were out at the time] as pictured by me.

Now, to something more important.
The Alice exhibition is at the front of my mind constantly and although things seem to be
'shaping' up there are some problems and some disappointments.
Little things, like the work will be ready after the opening.
Nothing too important.
I do have to remind myself from time to time that artists are only people [it's a fact]
and like us all they have pressure's and many different commitments and
can only produce so much.
So it was with great delight that I had a call from one of my favourite artists
Louise Richardson.
I have shown her work on the blog before and I hope to do so again in the future as she is
having a solo exhibition with us later this year.
For me the best thing about her work is that you can never guess what will come next.
When I mentioned the Alice exhibition to her the reaction was
" Oh, fantastic, that's just my sort of thing ".
So here is what she has sent me pictures of today.
They are all to go in wall cases, and once on the walls I just know they will disappear.
They always do.
It's strange, much as I want her to have great success I would also love to put her in a cage
and only let her out to make work for us.
Alas, that can't happen but I know we will always have some of her work because that is the 
person she is.
She doesn't forget.

So firstly, Harry's Mums.
Then by Louise:
The 'White Rabbit' waistcoat.
"You're nothing but a pack of cards!"
"Drink Me".