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.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind".

Was a quote I read earlier today, and as a result I thought that I would say what I felt.
But on consideration decided [unusual for me] that this wasn't a good thing.
So instead I am showing just a tip of an ice cube.

Back in time.

When I had a proper job that paid "real" money I was rarely at home
[not a lot of changes there]
and had very little sleep.
For the last 10 years of employment I worked a night shift in London, which was never very easy considering that we have always lived in the remote countryside.
Most days I would arrive home at about 10.am, after breakfast [dinner] I would get to bed at
about 11.am and would have my alarm set for 2.30pm as I had to be on a train back to London
at 4.45 pm.
This didn't result in having much of a family life, or in fact any life, but it paid the bills.

Now, in the present.
I find my sleeping patterns are very in tune with nature, although they are still odd.
I awake with the sunlight whatever time of the year, or more to the point I arise with the sunlight, which at this time of the year is late but I find it hard to stir from bed until the light
comes through the window.
This doesn't mean I sleep all night, far from it.
After the first two hours or so of snoring my head off my body clock returns to its old pattern,
I am awake.
Awake at night, with nothing to dwell upon but the gallery.
And so it was last night.

It is good and bad, many problems are resolved in my mind which is good, but worse all the
things that trouble me are analysed, which is also good but doesn't lead to a sense of well being.
I think about various artists, and the way they have enriched or worsened my life.
As I mentioned the other day, I understand fully now that they are "just" people.
Some who enrich my life and others who have the capability to cause a lot of unhappiness.
These are the people I think about during the dark hours.
It is the quote by Dr Seuss that refers to those people.

I had intended to illustrate a series of incidents for you to judge, but on consideration that is unfair as it is just my own take on various events.
So, instead I will just say that it is a small hardcore of nice people [who are artists] that make
this change of life worthwhile. It certainly isn't the money, or even increased sleep
[although the pattern has changed].
It is down to people like the painter Jacki Morris [who tells people to "get lost" when they approach her privately about something we are selling], and sculptors Karen and Colin who send work whenever we need it [even when it means holding up large orders], and Nichola Theakston ["because she feels we are worth supporting"], potters like Stephen Parry and Anja Lubach who have been with us from the early days. Emma Rodgers, who is sought after by every major gallery, but who always thanks me for taking her sculptures.
It is people like these and many others whose work makes my heart sing and enrich my days and it is just the "few" that keep me awake at nights.

I have been urged many times "not to voice my thoughts, just say good things" on the blog.
But this is not an advertisement, it is a small diary of my [unusual] life.

But above is an advertisement, both for me and two of my friends.
There are a few of the beautiful yet slightly disturbing pots by Anja followed by one of Karen's latest creations, well part of it.
The whole consists of five babies and the Mother complete with mouse in beak.
She left it for me to display. But I can't.

Artists! What are they like?

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

This is just a quick post as I know the rest of the week will run away with me, or the time will.
I have lots to get on with and there really just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done.
Well I know for a fact that there isn't as today I will go home with a list on my mind of the people I should have contacted, the things I should have ordered and the emails that should be replied to.
So, "how have you time to write a blog", many people will ask
[only the one's that I should have called actually, I realise nobody else cares].
"I haven't got the time to blog", but I just need to.

I have just returned from my travels 'up North', and although I don't feel refreshed I do have lots of beautiful new objects for the gallery, some of which I do hope to get photographed and onto the web site before too much time has passed.
Apart from the many hours of driving the trip was mainly memorable for having an over night stay at the Green Dragon in North Yorkshire.
It's strange how somewhere so far from home can feel so like home when I arrive.
I walked through the door at about 10.00pm to be greeted immediately by a call of
"Hello John how are you"? From Yvonne.
Followed by "Let me get you a pint, you must be tired", from Mark.
The owners of this wonderful place. I felt that I was visiting friends and I think that many other travellers feel the same when they arrive.
After a quick chat I was taken up to my rooms.
Yes, they had reserved the 'Wordsworth' [he stayed there in the past] suite for me.
So beautiful was it that after relaxing for a while I found it hard to muster the energy to re-visit the bar to join my hosts.
But it had to be done, and I was the man for the job.
After several pints and many hours talking into the night I was wondering why I ever bothered going to my rooms.
But eventually we "talked ourselves out" and bed beckoned.
I will say no more but will urge you to visit and to sleep where I slept, in beautiful surroundings, and to awake with the soft sunlight of the mist covered Dales showing through the curtain cracks.
It is little point in trying to describe the place, you must stay there, drink beside the light of the old range in the evening, and have breakfast on a table in front of the coal fire.
It really is a visit back into the English past.

I feel so lucky to have discovered this place, and even more so to be made so welcome and accepted as part of the local scene. Mark has promised to take me to some of the hidden
[almost lost] treasures of the Dales so I know that I must return again, and again, very soon.

After a wonderful breakfast [the smell of coal burning made me feel so young] by the fire I set off to collect the last of my art which was being delivered to me at a pre-arranged destination.

I do tend to be a very pessimistic/unhappy person but even I have to admit that standing in light rain in the Dales of Yorkshire as I transferred beautiful pieces of art from one vehicle to another wasn't the worst way to spend a morning.
It made me think back to what I had said to Mark the night before [ as we traded our various troubles], "there are times that I forget just how lucky I am".

There is no time to tell more, although there is a lot more to tell.
My visit to the castle [really] that Mark and Yvonne are restoring will have to wait for another
day, so I will leave you with a few memento's of my journey, the scenery, the Green Dragon, my bedroom and just a little peek of the bronze dish that I collected from Fidelma Massey.
Oh! So much to tell and so little time.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

I don't think that I have ever done this before.
Writing a post immediately after an exhibition opening, in fact while it is still open.
I always intend and always forget to take photographs at the event, today was no exception,
it was only as the visitors started to dwindle that I gave thought " blimey, I have no pictures as usual", so it was only as people started to leave that I pulled out my camera.
Alas, too late as usual but I did manage to get one picture of Louise Richardson before she left for celebratory drinks with her family at a nearby pub.
I would have loved to gone with them but as there were still people coming through the door it seemed a little too premature, even for me.
Also, there was still wine here and after all someone has to drink it.
I put myself forward for the job, it had to be done.

The snaps I did manage to take were very poor and are a poor representation of the exhibition,
Louise and her work.
Still anything is better than nothing.

Besides, I am away for a couple of days now collecting work in Yorkshire, Cumbria and
Newcastle, so the chances of me writing anything for a few days are very slim.
However, I do hope to come back refreshed from a stay at the 'Green Dragon' in North Yorkshire with lots of pictures and tales to tell.
Until then here is just a little glimpse of today's exhibition opening.

'New Work by Louise Richardson'

The work on show more than made up for the poor title.

Above is a piece named 'Tattling' which was the first to sell, which is always the way when there is something that you wanted for yourself.
Then of course is Louise with her [shedded snakeskin] dress 'Charm' in the background.
Lastly is the most unusual piece we have ever shown.
'Telling Tales'
A dress made from nails, now that's not something you see on the street very often.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

It has been along time since I last posted.
I never anticipated or intended to let such long gaps happen, but I think that in a way my heart went out of it a little bit.
I always get so excited about, and admire so much the work of different artists that we have here that I suppose I forget that they are "just people".
People with their own "hang ups" and different problems, and not special beings at all [although some are].
So after having been treated as an idiot recently by one particular artist it did make me question
"why do I bother telling the world about them"?

Especially, as I know that a buyer from a public funded gallery is following this blog and is approaching the different artist's mentioned one by one with an open cheque book in hand.

So it was with great disappointment I realised that one individual mistook my openness and enthusiasm for stupidity.
Maybe he is right, after all he has my money and I have the "different to promised", disappointing pieces of his work, followed by an excuse "you have to understand these are handmade".
I do understand. But, if I had asked Leonardo for the "Mona Lisa" and he sent me
"The Last Supper"
I would ask why [mind you I would still have been happy]? No doubt he would have told me "you have to understand these are hand painted".

Oh Yeah! That's why I got something totally different.

So why did I pay?
Because I said I would, and at least one of us kept their promise.

This little experience left me feeling disillusioned.
I mention it only because of the hurt I felt, and this is the reason that I haven't written.

Since then so many good things have happened and I have been involved with so many nice artists that I shouldn't give it another thought, but it just illustrates to me that one negative
event overtakes so many positive one's.

Nice people, nice events?
Well now I know I haven't enough time to write about them, but I will as I become increasingly excited about them.
But, I must mention that I discovered a new [to me] sculptor last night, named Olivia Ferriere.
I spoke with her today and she has promised work in a couple of weeks.
I will show her work when it arrives. I am tempted to now but I will put it off, it will give me something to look forward to.
I have also just today had an arrival of some beautiful, sublime ceramics.
Showing those will also be a pleasure in a day or so, or as soon as I get the camera on them.
Anja Lubach is the potters name and the work is almost as romantic as the name.
Maybe tomorrow, lets see.

Most importantly Louise Richardson the artist/sculptor arrived with her different art which is for her exhibition opening here this weekend.
I shouldn't be surprised, but I still am, by the variety and complexity of what she produces,
everything is really from the imagination, and is so magical and different it is an absolute delight to look at.
Today, after hanging one of her works I thought "that's not bad".
Then caught myself and thought "no, that's bloody incredible, how have I got it here"?Her work REALLY is different to anything that you have seen before, and what is more amazing is that it is created by a woman who is bringing up a young family.
What is so lovely is that the family comes first and they are the most important thing in her life.
How lovely it is to speak to such a talented person while in the background there are dogs barking and children calling out for attention.
I am in awe to think just how "big" she will become when eventually her time is all her own,
having said that, she has a tremendous following already.
I do hope next year to have her and her equally talented husband Andy involved in our
'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' exhibition.
Still I had better concentrate on this exhibition first otherwise they will both disappear to one of the other queuing galleries.
Still, for this weekend Louise Richardson is all mine.
Well, and yours if you care to come.

She arrived yesterday with her work, I should have helped carry it inside as it was all large, but as she placed down each piece in front of me I became so immersed that it was only when the next was put in front of me that I came out of my trance, only to go into another.
Her work is really just so different and breathtaking that I would love to own a piece but I doubt that day will happen soon, so until then I will have to make do with the great pleasure of showing it.
I know [it is happening] that she is going on to great things and will be shown in many varied and highly prestigious venues [and publications] so this may be the last chance to purchase at
affordable [not cheap, but affordable] prices.
The phrase "antiques of the future" is so bandied about that you become immune to it,
but just watch where this girl goes to.

So obviously above are a few of her works, the other odd picture is one of mine.
While I was going through my period of disillusionment I thought about where I could be and what I could be doing instead, my thoughts turned to Ireland, so I went looking through some pictures taken this time last year, and I wished for a while I was back there.
But now I'm back here, and happy to be so.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Just in case any one has wondered "where's he gone" this is the result of my last weeks work.
Although Irene has long given up on me ever getting around to starting any decoration at home
she decided to get enlist me as the builder decorator at her new place 'Imagine Lavenham'.
Although I was annoyed as I felt I didn't have the time to spare it turned into a week that I enjoyed, it was a total distraction to the normal day.
Although there is a telephone, there wasn't a person who knew of the number [except my boss]
and there was no computer or Internet to be distracted or absorbed by.
It was a strange week, I really enjoyed doing something different and found much to my amazement even though I was busy until late at night my mind seemed to have more time than ever to "drift and wander" and as a result I think that I have resolved many things that have been troubling me for some time.
But I did miss being here at the gallery, on my brief visits back here I was really surprised how much I liked it and how nice everything looked.
On a daily basis it his hard to be objective, you can only see what troubles you.

Anyway, the new place is far from finished and at the moment there are many artworks that have just been put in place and that are borrowed from Imagine, but they had to go there just to get a sense of perspective and scale of what would work and what wouldn't.
It is a very small building downstairs but the total space would make a good gallery, but Irene is reserving the top floor for something else.
I don't like to be a tease but I will show pictures of this at the end of the week once work has progressed and it looks more presentable.
I must admit I finished work there last night with a little regret, it was starting to feel a little like home to me, still that will soon change as my wife is determined to put her "stamp" on this project and not mine.

The pictures I am showing were taken on Friday evening when there was still [and there still is]
much to do. There is still much decoration to be done, cupboards and displays to be built, pictures have to be hung and new exhibits put on display etc, etc.
In fact even a sign to be hung.
It will all happen in time.
For the moment it just feels nice to me just to be back to the "day job".

Friday, 1 October 2010

Some of the new work that I had been anticipating has started to arrive.
Every time a new delivery arrives I get excited, with the anticipation of what I might open next it really is like Christmas.
In fact Christmas came early for me in the shape of the sculptor Paul Harvey.
Paul, and his beautiful wife arrived at the gallery earlier this week, laden down with gifts,
or to be more precise his wonderful wildlife sculptures.
I have always thought of Paul as being 'Peter Pan' rather than Father Christmas as he is one of those very lucky people who doesn't seem to age.
When he arrived his age was of no importance, I had been looking forward to the arrival of his sculptures for some time, I just knew they would be good.
He has such an eye for both fine art and wild life, this mixed with his love of 'Art Deco'
results in some amazing work. It is loved by myself and the public alike, there is a quality about it that is hard to define, almost a moment of silence or stillness.
Whatever it is I love it and this week he "did us proud" bringing some stunning pieces with him. As soon as I get a chance I will take pictures, I must, as I promised him, also I would like to have a record of them after they have gone as I know they will disappear very quickly.

Apart from the excitement of Paul's visit I had other things on my mind.
Louise Richardson gave me a call asking me to confirm the date of her solo exhibition.
It's a good thing that she did as I have had so many things going on plus the impending opening of Irene's place on my mind I was really behind on with lots of things.
It didn't take long to "get back on track" once Louise sent me pictures of her new work.

Well, actually it did, as I loved so much of what she sent me I have spent at least two days dithering about what pictures I should use for her invitation.
Everything was so unusual [as usual].
This shouldn't have surprised me with Louise as I know her mind is so inventive, but surprise me it did, as I am sure it will many others when they see her creations.

I would just love to have a peak inside her mind.
Whatever she does is so very different, unusual and totally unique, everything that she does is like a page from a fairy book, you just don't know what to expect next.
I am giving a little sneak preview above, showing pictures of her dresses created from different discarded objects.
Bones washed up on a seashore, snake skins that have been shed.
Everything she uses either found by her or donated by people who think
"Louise could use that for something".
She has an enormous following of people who can't wait to see what she makes next.
Including me, but at least I'm the lucky person who will be showing it all.

Other things that have arrived are ceramic pieces by the potter Paul Young .
I have known Paul and shown his pottery for some time but it is only in the past few weeks that I have been looking at his sculptural work .
I must have been blind for so long, I know find it a delight, very naive, innocent and beautifully
crafted, there is something very English about it, perhaps it is this that helps it to find its way into museums worldwide. Paul's own account of how he was discovered and taken to New York
is really worth reading. His "fifteen minutes of fame" is I think how he described it.
A man whose workshop is an old rural rail station finding himself a celebrity in America.
How did this happen to a country potter?

I have crammed and compressed too many events into too small a post, but at the moment I don't seem to have enough hours in the day or days in the week, so everything written is a much watered down version of what has been going on but I thought it best to show something rather than nothing.
Or as the saying goes "treat them mean and keep them keen".
I can't say I believe in it but until I have a little more time this will have to do.