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.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The last two days have been taken up with travelling, or driving to be more precise.
Yesterday was a long day of sitting in motorway traffic jams, and was a journey made from necessity, but Sundays drive was of a different nature or at least a nicer destination.
I went to visit the sculptor Nichola Theakston.
It seemed so strange as I became closer to my destination, I felt as I have sometimes in the past,
I wasn't visiting an artist I was visiting a friend.
It felt a little like when I was a child and as a family we would go to visit the relatives, the excitement and anticipation as you got nearer the destination.
In a way I suppose that is exactly what it is, it is visiting someone who is of importance in your life.
Nichola is an incredible sculptor who happens to be married to a man who is equally as clever
and who is also a very successful artist. They make a great team and are also two of the most genuinely nice people that I get to see from time to time.
It was lovely to arrive at their door with a feeling of excitement about meeting the person, not
just seeing and collecting the art.
Tony was unfortunately away showing his work in London, but Nichola made me feel welcome.
I don't really know what to say about her, she is just so talented but is only just starting to
realise that her work is so very special.
Her animal sculptures have always been very beautiful but over the last couple of years have started to take on a life of their own, now not only are they lifelike but also portray the
character and vibrancy of the living creatures. They have become just slightly more abstract and the result is wonderful, you really feel that as you touch them the will come alive, or might even turn to bite you, and somehow with her colouring has managed to create the illusion of fur, or skin.
But, still she is such a totally modest person who is only recently starting to recognise that what she does is very different.
How someone who has long been acknowledged as being one of the countries finest wild life sculptors can have any self doubt is beyond me, but I suppose that is what drives her,
the desire to get better, until SHE is totally satisfied.
Of course, that day will never come because like all true artists she knows that the
"next piece will be a bit better".
A day that will never come because she will never recognise when she is perhaps the best, and has achieved great art, she will always be striving to get better, and this is what sets her apart.

She let me leave with lots of beautiful pieces, all of which I will most likely never get around to photographing so I have borrowed a couple of her own pictures to show you.
I would have liked to have shown the dramatic landscape in which she lives, but for some unknown reason just as I set off to visit her I put aside my camera.
Why? What an idiot I was, and I have lived to regret it.
Still, there is always the next visit to look forward to when I visit to see Tony and this time I will have a camera.

Until then, here is Nichola at work and just a few of her creations.

There was only one disappointment from the visit.
As a little boy when I visited relatives they gave me money, not this time.
Still I suppose I will have to make do with the sculpture.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

I hadn't intended to write anything today, but a couple of things happened that moved me and I wanted to share them with the world.
Firstly, Maria the wife of the artist Michael Parkes sent me a DVD which explains how his 'Stone Lithograph" pictures were created. I was looking forward to watching it but nothing had prepared me for the amount of work that had gone into creating each picture, which involved the skills of so many people. The film is incredible and totally fascinating, even more so for me as it depicted how one of "our" pictures was created.
What I wasn't prepared for was to understand that there will be no more. We have shown one of the remaining few of the last printing.
The presses that created them are gone, they were sold and melted down. Even more sad was to understand that some of the craftsmen that assisted him in creating these works of art have since passed away.
The film is a tribute and a small recording of history.
Having been very moved watching the film you can imagine how I felt when I put the disc back in its box and noticed that on the sleeve it said

"Parkes art works are only available exclusively through his authorized galleries worldwide.

There are only about twenty of us in the world.
"Just how did I end up being this privileged"?
If you were able to view his work first hand you would understand why I ask.
It seems that while I feel so small and unworthy, he and his wife seem happy that I like them so much. I just don't understand it, especially when I worry about the quality of what we show so and feel that I mustn't let any artist down.
He can chose any gallery to display his work, but somehow he has allowed me.
Despite his great success he seems a very 'down to earth' and humble man, with a wife to match.

The other event that prompted me to write was receiving some images of the pictures that we will be showing by the artist Lindsey Carr.
Lindsey who is such a normal grounded person has a very unique talent.
In the past I have been really pleased to have the privilege of showing her art, the last time was much earlier this year. In fact it is Lindsey who is responsible for me writing today.
" You should have a gallery blog, and dig the dirt, let us know what really goes on with the artists".
So on her prompting I did start one, but I could never tell of the things that she would like to hear. Well maybe, but you would have to take me for a pint of cider first.
So, today Lindsey sent me two images, along with the news that after showing with us she has a solo exhibition in LA.
I'm not at all surprised, her work attracts people world wide, it is amazing.
The funny thing is, while she urged me to start a blog I urged her to give up work and go full time with her art.
The results of both we see here.
If I can use a cliche her new paintings "have blown me away".
I am stunned at how she has progressed so quickly, so fast and with such imagination.
One day, not far away I know I am going to boast to anyone who will listen,
"We showed her here once".
I am just so proud of what she has achieved.

So above is one of her paintings plus a few teasing pictures of another, which I will show in its beautiful entirety soon.
The last picture shows the last Michael Parkes print before they melted down the press.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

I have wanted to write but have had no pictures to go with the words.
What use is a blog without a picture?
I have been watching other blogs that seem to have a wealth of beautiful images but unfortunately I don't get out too much.
A lot of interesting things have happened but I have found that pictures of the telephone and the computer don't look that exciting.
One thing that has happened which is a little amusing is that the last 'post' is going to be reproduced in a newspaper. Fame at last.
The sculpture by Eve Shepherd that is going on display this Friday seems to have really connected with lots of people. I am not surprised as I was very moved from the moment that I was shown pictures of it in the early stages of its creation.
It's hard to put "your finger" on what it is that moves you, but everyone that has seen it has been touched by its presence. It is really one of the pieces of work that we have shown that I really would like to own. Not for material reasons, but just because it moves me inside.
If that makes any sense.
I have spent far too much time on promoting the showing of this work, time that I don't have to spare, but it's just that I feel that what it represents and what the money could do to help has made me feel that I mustn't leave a stone unturned in the promotion of the sculpture.
I must be mad as I rarely do this much work to promote us.
It has had tremendous results.
It is to be featured in four newspapers, has a radio programme talking about it and maybe featured on TV. In fact I had a mail this morning asking if I would be prepared to be interviewed on another B.B.C. radio programme this Sunday.
It appealed to my vanity [plus the chance to plug Imagine] but I mentioned it to the lady who is organising the fund raising and she told me "turn that over to me, I'm good at interviews".

I must admit I prefer writing to talking unless it's about a piece of art, in those case I have been known to send insomniacs to sleep. It would have been nice to slip our name in but I know that I would have felt very cheap afterwards.
Unless, of course lots of people came in spending as a result of it in which case I would have felt richer.
Also it was at 7.40am. Who? Just who is awake then, on a Sunday. Not me.

So hopefully with the invitations now going out I can now just look forward to the opening then get back with my "normal" life.
Normal life hasn't felt that normal recently.
It is the time of year when all of my concentration should be focused on sourcing new work for the gallery, as every artist/sculptor is preparing for the end of year Art Fairs, then the promise of inclusion in various Christmas exhibitions.
I am not enjoying it at all, normally I "stumble" across an artist or a various piece of work, and
I hate the feeling of being in a competition with the 'Big Promises Gallery'.
I usually feel that somehow the right work finds its way to us, or me to the artist.
I'm sure that this is what will happen as it always does, but it doesn't lessen the pressure of making me feel that I should be "out there bigging it up" and getting new art.
I know that I shouldn't give it another thought as several of our artists have put us at the top of their list and I know that there is some beautiful work on its way to us, work that will excite me.
But, if I didn't worry what else would I do?
Here I am with the best job in the world and I start whinging.

One thing that I am definitely not worrying about is the quality of work that will start arriving
for our next exhibition, which is a solo show by the incredible Louise Richardson.
Her work is so different and so very imaginative, I really would love to peek inside her mind.
She seems to be able to capture in her various works things that are at the back of your conscious mind, forgotten dreams, memories of childhood, fairy tales, and all of it so very gentle, moving and beautifully crafted.
She really is the perfect artist, I often wonder "what can't she make".
At the moment we have in the window one piece by her, this will be removed [if not sold] at
the weekend as it is part of her exhibition. It is on display because a famous film director is
staying locally for a few days and he is in love with her work.
He mailed me to say he was coming, so I in turn called Louise and asked "have you got just one piece ready"?
So in a way it is a really private view, for one person, with just one piece

Well, not that private because above you can see what he will see. I admit my pictures are not that good and that he will get far greater enjoyment, but whatever.
Here it is, plus a couple of details.
'Sunday Best'.
Made from an old hymn book [with a lot of talent and love].
Below that is a picture of a piece by someone I am very long overdue in mentioning,
Ruth King. It is one of her 'Sailing Vessels', I don't think that it needs an explanation but I will tell you more of her another day.

Friday, 17 September 2010

I think it's about time now that I mention something that we are involved with which is going to take place very soon. In fact a weeks time.
There is a charity event taking place in Long Melford, well when I say 'event' what I really mean is a shopping trip.
A shopping spree with a difference, every shop, gallery, restaurant, etc, is discounting the goods for one day for a group of shoppers who have paid for the privilege of being aloud to part with their money.
A bit complicated I know, in fact I still can't understand it myself and we are very involved.
All the profits of the event are being donated to the 'Myeloma Bone Cancer' charity, a rare form of cancer which receives little or no funding.
Somehow [due to my big mouth] we have become more involved than most, so not only will we be offering a discount for the day we have also instigated something else.
With the very generous help of the famous sculptor Eve Shepherd we will be showing and selling an incredible piece of work, a sculpture titled FAITH, with a large proportion of the proceeds being donated to the charity.
The sculpture, almost 'Icarus' like depicts a young man who has given himself over to fate.
He is falling, or about to fall as his body has past the point of 'no return'.
He is letting himself fall, safe in the knowledge that he has faith, and that this faith will protect him. Engraved on his back [to represent a tattoo] are a pair of wings and the word 'Faith'
running down his spine.
From the first moment Eve showed me pictures of what she was working on I was determined to show it here in the gallery, but it was not to be.
Once finished it was going on display in Winchester Cathedral.
I think that by now some of you might understand that I have trouble with the word NO.

When I was told of the charity event memories of the sculpture kept going through my mind.
Faith. It was so relevant, with "faith and belief" almost anything is possible.
Maybe even recovery, or the belief in it.
It was such an apt piece of sculpture that I wanted it to be a 'beacon' for the event.
Eve, being the lovely woman she is took no persuading.
So, now some months later it is coming from Winchester to Long Melford where it is to be
put on display in the local Church, not as grand as a Cathedral but still a beautiful setting.
There will be a special opening event, and it is hoped that not only will people be moved enough to make a donation to the charity but that someone may also purchase the sculpture.
It will go on show from Saturday 25th September.
Who knows what will happen? I am just pleased that Eve has allowed it to happen, at least I
will now be able to see this lovely work and take pleasure from it, rather than just looking at the tantalising photographs of it.

Long Melford.
It's a funny old place [very old], too small to be a town and too large to be a village.
It is in fact a one mile long 'high street' set in the country. Standing in the street with constant
stream of cars passing it is at times hard to remember that just a few yards away behind the shops and houses is the countryside. In fact it is 'Constable's' countryside.
After a few minutes walk from the gallery you will find yourself in a landscape that you will recognise from his paintings. Fields, streams, water meadows with cattle standing in the water, Church steeples in the distance, and all set under the most unusual skies.
There is something about a Suffolk sky, it sounds stupid but it is like no other you will find in this country. A look at the works of various Old Masters will show how they all tried to capture the feel of it.

Anyway, I digress [I like to talk about things I love].
This morning I arrived very early as I had a fear that Melford would be closed to traffic.
The 'Tour of Britain' cycle race was arriving here today, with the mile long street being used as a 'sprint' section and I knew that they were trying to discourage people from the local roads.
I needn't have worried, things didn't get closed off for about two hours after I arrived.
So, with it being a beautiful day and being a little early I took a few local pictures,
one of course being the shop,
but after snapping village scenes I headed behind the shop to the stream.
Irene and Rebecca would be out walking the dogs and I hoped to get a few pictures of them.
It seems to me that the only time I use my camera now is to photograph an exhibit or to take a "serious" book cover picture. I have almost forgotten about recording life's enjoyable daily events.
In the words of John Lennon, "Life's what happens while your busy making other plans".
How True.
I missed seeing them going on their walk but did catch them briefly on their return.
It would have been a nice day to have put boots on and to have gone walking with them.

However, two hours later Melford was a different place and memories of the countryside faded.
The street was full of thousands of flag waiving fans, all here to cheer on the cyclists.
I stood at the door and watched it pass, it didn't take long, three minutes in fact.
Thirty minutes later it was once again a peaceful place.

Above, of course is a picture of FAITH, then a few of this mornings snaps including the madness of the bike ride taken from the doorway, plus another that I took as I was closing last night.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

I really must be careful, I'm sure that I am turning into Basil of 'Fawlty Towers' fame.
Where he had trouble running a hotel because of the guests, I sometimes find I have the same trouble with running a gallery because of the customers.
Well, actually they aren't called customers, they are called time wasters, people who come in
having no interest with the art on display and treat the gallery as a toyshop, with the various exhibits being pointed out, and being described as "outrageous" or "disgusting", then when having killed ten minutes of their time they then move onto a restaurant where they can spend some serious money on something worthwhile.
Their bellies.
I have the feeling I am sounding a bit cynical but this has been brought on by two visits this afternoon.
The first by someone who I observed writing their name in one of the "sandpit" displays.
Having enjoyed playing the "lady" came over to me and asked "who does the marvellous patterns in the sand"?
On any other day when I may have had more patience I might have gritted my teeth and explained to her that I had made a comb, with which each morning I used to smooth and then freshen the sand before opening the gallery.

But today, I replied "who does the patterns? People like you who are bored waiting for the pub to open".
Basil Fawlty would have been so proud of me.
Hey, why haven't I got many friends?
Later in the day another person came in and after having seemingly enjoyed looking at various
works called out to me "these are disgusting".
He was referring to a sculpture by Emma Rodgers.
I must admit that the sculpture is not ordinary, but I do find it very beautiful and moving.
Never disgusting, but maybe not to every ones taste.
Emma has always made work that is emotive and from nature, her work is in many national museums and has been described as "capturing the life force of an animal".
As far as I am concerned she can also do this when the animal is deceased. She is just a very powerful sculptor, maybe at her peak?, who knows? Certainly producing some very powerful work, you love it or hate it, but as far as I'm concerned keep your thoughts to yourself, don't start to criticise anything that I feel very proud to be allowed to show here.
Talking to the man I understood that he wasn't bad, just a little sad.
He was on his way to one of Long Melfords "best" restaurants who probably serve up on their plates more wildlife than I will ever show here.
This episode reminded me to look back though some old pictures that I had taken in Shropshire.
Ludlow a beautiful old town firmly locked in the past.
The butcher's shop was something between an abattoir and a Natural history museum.
I hadn't seen the like since I was a "very" young boy.
So above you can see the comparison between Emma's bad art and what is acceptable to be hanging outside a shop for public display.
One I find innocent and beautiful, the other very sad.

This aside, I have managed to do another couple of business cards for the new shop.
It seems that people thought that I was trying to decide on a design that I liked, far from it, I had intended to send nine different versions to the printer as I liked them all.
Perhaps I had better do it soon as Irene hasn't seen any of them as yet, and as it is going to be her place perhaps I ought to ask.
No, on consideration [about a second] I will just send them to the printer, I couldn't live with being told "they are not good enough". My ego couldn't handle it.

Things are progressing with the new gallery 'Imagine Lavenham' but there is so much to sort out in a short space of time. In a way I'm glad as I know that Irene and Sam will have to ask for
some help [I hope so] at some point , although our first "group" meeting at the new building on Sunday ended as a disaster. I have become so used to doing my "own thing" here I found it hard to accept that other people may [definitely] have ideas better than my own and that perhaps
[only perhaps] I should stop and listen occasionally.
Still my excuse is that I am deaf in one ear.

There have been a couple of other really important things that have occurred today.
One concerns a major piece of sculpture that is on its way to us, the other about a piece that has
arrived today.
They both deserve to be mentioned individually, especially as one concerns an important event,
so hopefully tomorrow with some new pictures I can tell about what I am referring to.

Until then above are the latest two cards [both Michael Parkes] and the Emma Rodgers pictures.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

It's been a funny old day.
Starting with a telephone call from an old [previous] customer complaining that he hadn't received an invitation to the exhibition.
Considering the fact that I knew he was a collector of Amanda Popham, I checked our mailing list.
With nearly a thousand invitations going out I still couldn't believe that he had been left out,
as I was aware of his interest in her work.
Checking addresses I found that he hadn't been left out.
Or at least, I had sent the invitation but it never arrived, something that worries me as I don't subscribe to email invitations, I feel it is so much nicer to have something in your hand, something that is a physical "memento" of the event, and when I go to the post office with boxes full of envelopes I sometimes think " I hope they get there".
The only reason for thinking this is that as I put them in a sack I often think
"I'm glad I don't have to carry that".
Whatever, I'm sure that it is one of lives little "glitches", but it was upsetting when I felt that I
had sent invitations to everyone who had ever expressed an interest, but someone had been let down
So with a poor start to the day I then went on to check if anyone new was looking at the blog.

It's amazing how even with the worst of days a little ego boost works wonders.

"What a delight", I had my 70th follower and it is someone I have admired for a long time.
Alex Pribnow.
Someone I have often thought of approaching but had always thought was too busy or important to look at a mail from me.
OK, so someone is looking at my blog, "big deal", but it is someone I have been watching and admired for a long while.
Well that cheered my morning up.
After that it was just a friendly day, by that I mean that all of the right sort of people came in.
Not necessarily buyers, but interested people.
It gave me a lot of pleasure to spend time talking about the many things that I love here.
It is hard to describe the "second hand" pleasure that can be derived from the enjoyment that someone else finds in the different art that you are showing.
When someone 'connects' and sees what is being shown it is a real pleasure.

In between talking about the art [which is my biggest hobby] I tried to make a start with getting various things underway to help out Irene and Sam [my son] with the start up of their new gallery.
Playing around with pictures.
I can't think of a nicer way to spend my time, and because it was necessary I had to make a start. So after many variations and "much" playing around I came up with a few business card
designs for them.
I feel guilty already.
I can imagine them thinking "is that all you have done to help".
"Yep, but I enjoyed it".
I'm sure all the simple things like legal papers, insurance, electricity supply, lighting, displays,
signs, telephones, web site, etc,etc, they can sort out themselves.
At least I have helped with the important things, mind you I could do with a few more details
before I get "my" important work done.
Joking aside, it is very important and I do promise to help out.

So here are a few "trial" designs for what will be their business cards.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

As usual, so much has happened over a short period I'm not sure what to talk about,
I know that I will think to myself that "I will come back to that", but I seldom do.
Life has a way of taking over from what you might have intended.
But while I am thinking a little philosophical I will quickly mention one event, an even though I know it is unimportant It left a mark on me.
Once each year I have a woman come through the door, claiming to be a gypsy.
Each visit she stands before me with a basket of white heather 'sprigs' and asks
"would you purchase from a gypsy"?
Every time despite my reservations [what if she put a curse on me].
I have told her "NO, I don't purchase from anyone through the door".
Last week from the corner of my eye I saw a figure come walk appear, I looked up to see the Gypsy woman.
"NO". I called out,
"I tell you each time you come here, no".
"Won't you purchase from a gypsy"? She asked disregarding what I had said.
I sat back and looked at her, she was holding nothing, she had nothing to sell.
Just an old woman?
Well maybe not as old as me, but I had the feeling she was older, after all she had more whiskers than me.
"No, you've been here before and I will always say no to you, it has nothing to do with being a gypsy, that doesn't bother me, I just won't buy from someone who comes through the door".

I won't repeat what she then replied, and told me.
Not because it was rude, far from it.
Just because it was far too personal, and very moving.
She told me things about myself, and what would happen in the future.
I stared at her, but at the same time wanted to avert my gaze. We have all heard that the
"eyes are the window of the soul" and I believe in the honesty of eye contact, but this was different, I wanted to look away [but not really] as I felt that she was seeing far too much that I have buried in my thoughts and soul.
She spoke of what was happening to me and what would become of the gallery.
I opened the till and handed her some money, although she had nothing to sell.
I paid her for her words and the way they had moved me.
She had called on a day when my spirits were down and I believe her words were all she had for sale. A lot of nonsense I know but I felt lifted by what she had told me and felt that those few pounds were the best that I have spent for a long time.

Now where was I? Back to real things.
This weekend we had the opening of the Jackie Morris & Amanda Popham exhibition, this is one that I have looked forward to for a very long time.
Two marvelous, totally different artists without an ego to share between them.
Jackie arrived for the exhibition but Amanda [as she had warned] couldn't get a dog sitter.
Brilliant, as far as I am concerned she had her priorities in the right place.
I understand that artists must have so many different pressures, trying to earn a living or supporting a family with their work during a time which must be incredibly hard so it is very unusual to have a couple of women, both successful and very happy in "their own skin" and full
of the confidence that their art would sell and that people would like it.

As a result this of course gives them the time and confidence to concentrate on life's important events.

As different as their works are it goes without saying "I am besotted " by both.
It was an awful feeling, sitting trying to work out my own personal finances to see if I could "afford this or that" [or maybe both].

Having the work here is an absolute pleasure [on a daily basis].
At the opening having Jackie Morris, resplendent in her "pirate coat" was an even greater pleasure, she along with Emma Rodgers has been one of the most "down to Earth" highly
successful artists that we have had visit us.
It just goes to prove that great success doesn't change the person, it is the nature of the person that changes the manner in which their success is perceived.
Blimey! That's getting a bit deep, even for me.

As usual I took no photographs at the opening, I spent too much time talking.
I forget at times that it is not me that people come to see, still you've got to get attention while it's on offer.
Fame by association I think it's called.

Well. Let me just tell you about the toenail I have placed into the world of media and fame.
A nice young man came into the gallery yesterday carrying a very large video camera.
"I'm from ITN " he told me. "we are doing a feature about the 'Tour of Britain' cycle race which will be passing your gallery in a weeks time, would you mind giving us your thoughts on it"?

"Hhhhhmmmm! Could be tricky, I don't know anything about it'.
"Don't worry, I will give you the details and you just talk about it".
I told him that I would prefer to talk about the exhibition in the gallery, especially as I knew more about it.
"We can do both", he told me.
So as a result I was featured on the news talking about something I didn't know anything about and in return he filmed the gallery [and became excited] showing things he knew nothing about.
All in all, it's a funny old world, but I become more and more convinced that every thing
happens for a reason.
At the moment we are showing new work for one reason.
I love it, and for me what better reason can there be?
I will revisit more about the visit by Jackie Morris because she is such a larger than life character, and her visit needs recalling.
What was even better, whilst here she also purchased many things [my kind of artist], each so
unusual that it would be hard to imagine anyone else owning them.

So, at the end of this very rambling [taken 4 hours with distractions] here are a few of the
unusual works from the new exhibition.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Can I do a quick post?
That's what I have been thinking for the last two days, the answer I told myself was NO.
Right then, that means no posts this week as I am too busy.

Oh! to hell with it, I will try and do a short one,
Trouble is when you have a big mouth and an active mind things tend to go on a bit.

See what I mean.
I am writing garbage and I haven't told you anything.
So, here we go very, very briefly.

At the moment I am embroiled [up to my eyes] with trying to set up the new exhibition,
and as usual it is getting on top of me.
The art seems to have a life of its own and dictates what I should do, I keep thinking "no, I haven't time to do that", then something tells me "you had better do it" even if it takes time.
The usual exhibition setting up scenario really, I should be used to it by now, but I ever will be.

Still, I wouldn't be in this position if I hadn't collected the different art,
and that is where I have been for the last few days.
Driving, and collecting art.
If I had unlimited time [and a petrol allowance] this would be a pleasure.
In fact it is, but I never seem to have enough time to savour the visits and enjoy the company of the clever people, and to spend the time talking with them that I would dearly love to.
I am sorry if I appear rude to them, it is worry not intention.

So in brief, this is a snapshot of my latest adventure.
I travelled during the early hours of the morning to the west coast of Wales to see and collect paintings from Jackie Morris.
Travelling so early made the journey easy and by 10 a.m. I was at the Pembrokeshire coast.
It was so different from what I had left behind that I spent an hour or so [probably so] before
I drove to Jackie's beautiful remote cottage.

I will now leave out a lot of my adventures because at some point this evening I would like to get home, so here I will have to omit several hours that I enjoyed but you will never know of.
What a tease I am.

Jackie had promised to take me to see the new born Seal cubs at a secret deserted cove.
I was really excited about this. Did they really exist? It was such an unusual event I couldn't believe that it would really happen.
Of course, true to her word Jackie and her son Tom took me off over the hills [and far away]
until eventually we were standing in a remote spot, high above the sea.
Looking far down amongst the rocks on a deserted cove I was able to witness for the first time in my life, baby Seal cubs.
White, scattered amongst and blending with the surrounding rocks.
What a privilege.
After a while Jackie started to point out to me different darker rocks, but they weren't rocks, they were adult Seals.
The more I looked the more I saw.
On the beach and in the sea, playing, fighting, mating.
"Did you here that"? Jackie asked.
I had, but didn't know what it was, a sound like a horn.
Sad, and very moving.
The song of the Seal.
I won't tell more of that short visit but to say that it was magical would be an understatement.

I slept that night beside the sea.
My bed and bathroom were yet again created by nature.

The following day was to be full of panic urgency and many hours of driving.
A far cry from the songs of Seals.

I had chosen a holiday weekend to do my travelling, which reminds me I must plan ahead in the future.
[Hey! Lorell. How long will it take me to drive to Australia next Autumn?]
So, with a car packed fully with Jackie's paintings I set off for my next visit to the sculptor
Amanda Popham.
Amanda lives in a beautiful deserted part of Somerset, a location that any other time I would loved to have visited.
But, not that day.
After many, many hours of driving, experiencing hours of "traffic jams" I arrived at her hilltop
But not for long.
Ten minutes, and a very quick chat with Amanda and I "was gone".
Over the many hills, plains, valleys and even past 'Stonehenge' I headed East back home.
After eleven hours I arrived there, to be greeted by two beautiful excited dogs, waiting at the gate. What a lovely homecoming.

If I have the chance I will return to my visit and tell you of many of the incredible things that I saw and encountered, but until that day here are just a few of my memories and examples of the art I collected and returned home with.

Firstly, if you can spot them the Seal Cubs.
The view from my bedroom [car seat] towards my bathroom,
just before I switched off the lights.
The rest a few of Amanda's sculptures. Believe me these have to be seen [and held] to appreciate, I haven't had pieces like this that have so excited me for a long time.
Well, in fact the last time we showed her work.