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, 30 November 2010

I justify not writing each day by telling myself that "nothing has happened".
Which in the grand scheme of things it hasn't , but I suppose that in my small world a lot has, or more to the point lots of small things have happened, which I suppose is what it is all about.
We have had "new" art by artists old and new arrive here, I have visited different fairs, the new gallery is up and running now and my framing needs are now taken care of, and most importantly we have had a Christmas opening.
So I suppose that a few things have happened, it just all creeps up on me, and without my realisation a lot has happened.

Christmas is "just around the corner" and this has dictated a lot of what has happened here.
I have tried to make the gallery as interesting as possible showing a selection of work by all of our artists, plus fitting in a few new ones. It is only when trying to do this and with trying to be fare to everyone [in terms of display] that I realise how many and how varied our artists are.

In a way the Christmas show is a bit of a treat as it is a case of "anything goes" and there are no problems of seeming to favour any one artist, as a result the gallery looks really different
and to the majority of visitors really fresh, as most of them only visit for a specific exhibition and as a result never see us as we really are or have an understanding of what we are trying to achieve.
As one man told "you have some really good things this time".
Not especially, this is normal.
Wow, that sounds big headed, but I don't mean it to be, I am not one of the artists but I admit I do feel proud of their ability.

The Christmas opening couldn't have been at a worse time, most of the country was covered with snow, here in fact we had very little, actually it was only a heavy frost but I understood early in the day [especially on my way here when I passed several cars on the road that had inches of snow on them ] that it might be hard for some people to travel here.
However, the day was a great success with many old friends making the long cold journey [most of our trade is from people living 30 miles plus away] for this special day.
"Glad we came it seems like Christmas", we were told many times.
This maybe because of the scented candles but mainly because of the 'mulled wine', which was constantly brewing and even more frequently being re-filled in the large cauldron.

Most people were amazed at the variety of the different work on show, which was a bit of a surprise as the majority was from our regular artists, but as I explained most people never see us as we "really are" and they only pick up on a hint of what might be on show on a daily basis.

We did have some new artists at the opening, in fact more than a few, plus lots of new exciting pieces but as usual I have been too lazy [or unhappy with results] to get decent pictures to show, but I have taken a few and as the week progresses I will take more.

The week before the opening I visited a large ceramic fair.
It wasn't something that I had intended or wanted to do as it required six hours driving but it was a necessity as a lovely young Welsh potter [Sean Gordan] was keen for me to have his ceramics and he had promised me
"that if you come to the fair I will have a nice package for you".
Imagine that being spoken in a lovely soft welsh accent [think Richard Burton], how could I resist?
I was glad that I did visit as not only did I leave there with Sean's work but also lots of other ceramics that I wished were in my own stocking come Christmas morning.
Lots of lovely things by people like, Margaret Brampton, Gerald Davis, Nichola and Tony Theakston.
All of which I promise to show, in fact the ceramics that I left with would have made an exhibition by themselves.

But there was to be even more.
Day's before the opening I received new work from several different artist/sculptors/potters/
jewellers, plus a call from the famous sculptor Emma Rodgers asking "do you need anything from me for Christmas"?

As I sit putting this into words I do ask myself "why do I ever feel down"?
I don't know but I do at times and I think it is because I am always chasing after the impossible dream, or in reality the next artist.
My Christmas wish would be to be surrounded by all the different work that I love. This may seem like an impossible dream but I have got so close, and I do relish everything that we show.
But unfortunately I have to sell it.
Not a day passes that something that I love disappears, but I suppose that is the nature of what we do, and I suppose this it what drives me, always thinking about what might replace what has just been sold.
It's a little like living in toy land. I want everything.

For this Christmas show work has been arriving up until the last minute [or 30 minutes] before opening and I must admit I was very far behind with the preparations.
My excuse is that I knew that some work was on its way and as a result I couldn't set everything out.

The last pieces to arrive were by the sculptor/potter Jan Burridge.
She had tried to get here the day before but had to give up because of heavy snow.
Because of this I really didn't expect anything from her, but 30 minutes before the door opened she arrived with her sculptures. She stayed for only a few minutes before leaving again [in case of snow].
It was so kind and generous of her plus I was so thrilled with her work, she really is so very talented with her ability to move from pots to sculpture, I know we are going to hear a lot more about her in the future and I am so pleased to be showing her now before she becomes 'too' big.

There are other people that I want to talk about but sitting here feeling cold and then looking outside to see the snow falling I think that perhaps I had better set off home.

So above is the cover for our 'Christmas' invitation, then two sculptures by Jan Burridge
[I love her Tudor figures], a tea pot by Sean Gordan [too beautiful to use] and a local scene with the frost, which I hope will look the same come the morning but checking on the snow falling outside I think that the weather that the rest of the country is experiencing has finally arrived here in Long Melford.

So I must dash now as I have to tether those dogs to my sledge.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

It got to the stage that I had left it so long since a post that I thought "is it worth it"?
Just a few lines seems to take so long, but more importantly having decent pictures to show takes up much more time, so in the end I suppose I thought
"why bother who cares"?
I have tended to do the blog in the evenings, and taking into account the fact that I stay here in the gallery far too long in the evenings my late arrivals home have sometimes been blamed on "that blog".
Some of it true [like tonight] but not always as there always seems to be so many unfinished things and so many unattended emails left "for tomorrow" as I leave each night.
So today I really thought shall I carry on with it , or shall I let it just disappear and remove just "one"
more pressure from my life.

But thinking about it seriously I know that like everyone else I do it for my own benefit.
One day I will look back and think "this is what I was doing then , and that is what I achieved".
So for my own sake here are a few more lines.

The past week or so has flown by, nothing memorable has really happened but a lot has been achieved. I have spent a couple of days at the new gallery, firstly to finish off my carpentry and secondly to have a play with the new framing equipment.
I couldn't wait to see if I could make a frame myself.
I did, then another, and another, and another.
It was fun and gave me a sense of achievement, but I did make mistakes and they annoyed me
so it's perhaps just as well I won't be doing too many of them.
They weren't real mistakes and I doubt that anyone would ever spot them, but when on occasions I get a really well framed [not very often] painting by an artist arrive here it tends to set a standard in your mind against which other work is judged, including my own efforts.
Although, I do forgive myself, because I'm that kind of guy [unable to admit a failure].

Since the last post I suppose the one thing that I have been most aware of is the weather.
It was only just a week ago that I was talking to Maureen Minchin the potter who lives in Scotland. I told her "I really must come and see you within the next few weeks, before the winter sets in".
[I intend to write a magazine article about her to coincide with her exhibition next April,
although that sounds a long time off I know that it needs to be written now].

"Oh, no. Don't come for a while, the gales are so bad".

She told me this on a day when in the morning I had stood looking out of the windows at home thinking
"what a perfect autumn day".
Our house has an uninterrupted view over fields, forest and hills, and the trees in the garden framed the whole scene, it was beautiful especially with the clear blue sky contrasting with the golden trees and brown fields.
So hearing that storms raged only a few hundred miles away was hard to imagine,
but since then things have changed and winter has arrived and life just isn't the same with a white sky and pouring rain.
Scotland has arrived in Suffolk, that is with the exception of yesterday which was a morning of clear skies, misty fields and a little of the remaining gold.
Had I the time I would have taken countless pictures but I didn't seem to have time to pause and take even one [or two or twenty], probably because I know once I start I don't stop.
It was a shame as it was one of those 'once a year days'.

Other than that the other most striking vision I have had is the pictures that were sent to me today by Michael Parkes of his latest sculpture.
He not only paints, draws on stone but he also sculpts, and this is a three dimensional interpretation of one of his pictures [which happens to be my favourite].
'The Letter'.
I wasn't sure about it at first and my initial reaction was "it's back to front".
Then thinking about it I realised that it is his stone lithograph that is back to front, as he draws onto the printing stones which are then transposed onto paper, giving a reverse image.
I should have known this instantly as by now I am used to viewing his signature in reverse.

It has bothered me looking at them, as the more I look the more I want one here in the gallery.
Hhhhhmmmmm, I had better check with the bank.

So here we have it all above.
The perfect Suffolk day, looking at Lavenham Church [last year when I had more time].
Pictures of the new sculpture and [yet again] the picture that inspired it.
I am sorry for showing the picture yet again but I love it, and you really can't have too much of a good thing.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

A mixed and hectic week, but an interesting one.
A lot of my time has been spent working as a carpenter at the new gallery, Irene couldn't afford a carpenter so she drafted me in to get lots of things finished, or nearly finished.
Each day I would think "I will be done by tomorrow and back to my real job", but no such luck it seems that there is always one more thing to do. Still I have enjoyed it as it makes a change to be doing something with my hands other than picking up the telephone.
The week really started last Sunday when I had to visit a ceramic fair in Oxford.
Even though I used to be a potter in a much earlier life [it seems like someone Else's] I don't really enjoy going to these events, many people know me and I seem to spend far too much time talking.
As an example at this event it took me one and a half hours to walk ten yards, as every time I said
"well I must get on I haven't seen anything yet" I would walk to the next stand and then it was a case of "hello, hows things? It's been a long time no see".
So it goes on, which I'm not complaining about as I was talking to lots of nice craftsmen who I
enjoy visiting and talking with when I visit them, but when you only have a day it is incredible how fast it disappears and really at these events I would much prefer to be invisible and wander
about looking at objects deciding what I liked without feeling judged by my decisions.
In reality I don't suppose for a moment that any of them remember my visit but it's just the way it makes me feel.
So, why did I go if that's how I feel?

Well ever since we opened we have stocked pots by a French woman named Loiuse Gardelle,
they are very different and evocative of the 1940/50's era, and are distinctively French
[I swear at times you can smell the garlic] and I absolutely love them.
About once a year a large crate arrives from France full of straw and pots, how they survive the journey I can't imagine but they do and we have never had a breakage.
It is strange to think that these pots from the south of France have built up a collectors base here in this little corner of England, and we have people coming in on a regular basis asking "any new Gardelle pots"?
So it was with some alarm after sending a few recently to Scotland that I discovered that we only had three left. Impossible, we never have less than twenty.
But three it was, then only one.
I tried to contact Louise but she was in Holland at a showing ceramics, I looked on the web and found the fair where she was exhibiting and the location and decided to go.
Then I found that it wasn't an easy to reach location, it wasn't too far from Arnham the place
famous in the film "A bridge too Far".
They had trouble getting there back then and it didn't seem like too much had changed over the years as far as transport was concerned so reluctantly I gave up on the idea, but then help came.

Tony Laverick
is another potter whose work we always have on show, apart from being one of the nicest and busiest potters I know of Tony also seems to be the most travelled.
How he finds time to make ceramics I will never know, if he isn't exhibiting at some prestigious
gallery then he seems to be somewhere in the world showing his work at a ceramic fair.
So of course it didn't matter how far or how many bridges to cross Tony was going to be at the fair in Holland, and he very kindly [as if he didn't have enough to do] offered to be a courier
for Louise Gardelle.
This was a few weeks ago but since then we haven't had a chance to meet up until last Sunday in
Oxford where Tony was showing his work, so this was my real purpose for making the visit there.

So on Sunday I did arrive back home with a collection of new French pots
[most of which have sold in the past week].
As an added bonus also at the Oxford fair was an artist/potter named Jennie Hale.
We are going to exhibit Jennie's art and ceramics next year so it was good to have a chance to catch up with her and discuss some of the details.
Jennie is a potter, but first and foremost she is an artist who is in love with nature.
In the early morning she is out with her dog and sketchbook and come darkness she is out again accompanied by her faithful shadow, the perfect companion when drawing newts, frogs and toads by torchlight in the woodland.
In between she is a mother, wife and somehow a potter.
Her pots are decorated with her sketches of the wild life she sees.
It is hard to understand which is more important to her, art or the pots,but I suppose the two are combined, and inseperable.
She has had a book published of her wildlife diaries.
Like her ceramics it is innocent fresh and very invigorating.

So I returned from the show with the work of three potters, and though I had only intended to talk and show the work of one, here is a little taste of them all.
I really think that it is only fair that I come back to them each in turn and show and tell more.

So above at the top [and the reason for my visit] is a bowl by Louise Gardelle.
A Puffin bowl by Jennie Hale plus a sample page from her Diary.
Last and not least a large bowl by the man who made it possible, Tony Laverick.
His beautiful porcelain bowl is not only decorated with real gold but is translucent, with a light directed into it it glows and seems to take on a life of its own.

Three different talented and very nice people.