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, 29 January 2011

At the moment we are in what is considered the "dead time" of the year.
Many shops close for a few weeks, the owners taking holidays, decorating or just sitting at home.
It is the time when traditionally sales are bad as the public have spent all there money over the Christmas period, well that's the theory anyway.
Certainly, there are more than a few shops near us that are closed and others are open for just a few hours each day, I have a feeling some that are closed may never re-open, because believe it or not there is a recession on at the moment.
Well not at the moment actually, its been going on for a long while but it seems people have been afraid to admit it.
Even artists.

Well not all artists as it seems that the good have been unaffected or have even prospered because in uncertain times it seems that people are thinking
"Hell! We can't make any money from the banks so let's put our money into art".

What a good idea.
Lets face it, if you choose wisely and with your heart then you will always have treasure.
If it doesn't make you money then so what? You have something that enriches your life.
In fact the majority of people who purchase good art never make any financial gain from it as they have no intention of ever parting with it.
I like those sort of people.

It is strange this recession thing.
I could tell you many tales of artists in denial who have to pretend that they are unaffected in case people think their work is worthless.
Silly artists, I feel. Also silly buyers if they judge beauty by the number of sales.
I much prefer to talk to someone like Karen, who a couple of years ago called me and announced
"I'm sending you some "Recession Hares".
"Oh, great I will look out for them" I replied, and then started wondering
"what is a recession Hare"?
I admit I am not very good on wildlife and I had never heard of them, so I called her back.
"I know it sounds like a stupid question Karen but what is a Recession Hare"?
"Oh them", she laughed "they are my new Hares that are guaranteed to sell in a time of recession".
She was right, they do.
Thinking about this today it made me realise that this "blip", "credit crunch", "recession" has been around for a while now.
It's a way of life.
So at the moment I am much more enjoying the artists who are just "rolling there sleeves up"
and getting on with what they do best and not wasting energy telling an uninterested world that they are doing "just great"when they aren't.
As I read on a recent post by an American artist, she said that she has been through these times before, "It is a time to up your game and produce your best possible work as there is always a market for good art".
Best advice I have read in a long time.

So how does this relate to me, my gallery?
Everything that we show is chosen from the heart, everything here I would love to own.
Different kinds of art that fascinate me, excite me, and leave me wondering
"how did they think of creating that, what an imagination".
Work that touches all those different parts of our being and soul, that move us in some way.

Many times I have been advised by well intentioned people,
"you should get rid of these and get in things that sell", advice that at times has made me question what we are doing.
"Am I wrong, should I go with the flow"?
My own personal 'Jiminy Cricket' would whisper to me.
Then I argue back "no I would sooner close the door".

It seems that I was right.
For in these uncertain times when I see the closed shops I feel so pleased that we stayed firm.
It seems that the art that moves us also moves others, and for us nothing has changed.

Well there is one small change, I now find that the artists that we have shown over the years
are being chased by other galleries.
It had to happen.
So I have carried on as I always have, and for me the start to the year has been busier than ever.
I arrive home even later and seem to have less time to myself, not more.
The days in the gallery are full, if I'm not selling something then I'm talking about it.
This is my life, and it is fun and a great pleasure.
When the day ends that's when my mails and calls start, when I have a chance to talk to artists.
My time to think and plan.

It is from evenings like these that I find and unearth treasure.
When I can concentrate on what possible reason could I give to an artist I admire in the hope they will "give us a try".

It is from a time such as this that I found myself recently standing at the counter unwrapping a parcel, a painting, an original piece by
Jo March.
I have loved and admired Jo's work for a very long time, and we have shown and sold countless
prints of her work during this time, but never an original.
Indeed I had never seen or held one, only prints and pictures.
I had tried countless times to contact her about a year ago, my calls were always taken by a young boy, her son.
He would explain that she couldn't talk just then, to which I replied every time
"I will call later".
I did, again and again for what seems like weeks, until I eventually accepted that you "can't win them all" and gave up.
Some weeks later I received a call "Hello this is Jo March".

Jo explained the very sad and bad things going on in her life.
She needn't have, but I appreciated that she felt the need to and it explained a lot.
I think we got on, and it was left that "one day she would paint me an original.

Two weeks ago I called her again.

The original arrived at 11.30am one morning a few days later.
Her first painting for a year.
I loved it and was so excited and proud to place it in my "special place" on the wall.
By 4.30pm it was gone.
Isn't that the way of life? People always take what you love away from you.

But it was good.
Jo's life has changed, and in just two weeks we have become good friends.
It is as if we had known each other for a long while, and perhaps we have because it was long ago that I entered the world of her imagination.
Her paintings are all based on real locations, but they are set in the past, in a time of greater innocence and gentleness, they are of a world that is held in our deepest memories and one we would like to return to.
A new string tied [who uses string] parcel arrived today, containing three new treasures from Jo, perhaps these will be with me a little longer.
All I know for certain is that I would like to live in these landscapes.
Only problem is she doesn't paint roads, how do I get there?


  1. I don't wonder her work sells. There's something very carefree and cheerful about her landscapes.

  2. You are right WOL.
    If you see her villages and cottages in the landscapes they are really "gentle and nostalgic".
    She is going to have a Christmas exhibition with us, so watch out for some beautiful "English 50's" snow scenes.
    Jo is a lovely lady and really needs some interest and belief in her work at the moment.
    It's really strange that the best artists are the ones that doubt their own ability the most.