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.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

What shall I photograph next? I have been thinking.
A job I really hate. I want to show the varied works that we have but I really dislike the process of taking pictures and preparing them for show on the Internet.
Why? It is simple many of you must think, and I do admire the people who can just "snap away"
and show their wares. But when what you are displaying is created by someone else it is a lot harder.
I would rather show nothing [and I often do] than present someones art in a manner that doesn't do full justice to the work, so because of this I take less pictures than I should.

So back to my original thoughts of what I should show next.

Of course new arrivals are always in my mind because they have been the cause of my latest excitement and because they are fresh to me I want to show the world what I have found.
So this afternoon I had a look around, made a mental list of what to photograph, then looked again. I was amazed to see how many beautiful things that we are showing that I have never
mentioned, so instead of what I was going to photograph and show I decided to concentrate on
other pieces of work that I love equally as much but have never got around to presenting.
Of course they [or similar pieces] are always on show here but I have never shown them to a wider audience, so I will try to start rectifying that now.

So today I am showing the dramatic, yet very gentle and very emotive ceramics of
Anja Lubach.
We have shown Anja work for as long as I can remember, and I find it as beautiful and moving today as the first time I ever held a piece in my hands.
It is made from porcelain,
and more than any work I have known it relies upon light.
The same piece will take on so many different characteristics depending on how it is illuminated.

Many people have purchased her work and told me
"I am going to put candles in it".
Having heard the same statement many times
I still manage to express surprise at such a good idea.
But then it is a good idea.
Other people have told me "oh! these are really creepy".
On those occasions much as I have wanted to I have so far managed to hold back from saying
"see that door? Get out of it you ******* idiot".

Yes you can tell that I really am a people person.

Anja's work is incredible, well crafted and it is a constant delight and surprise to me that there
is not a lot of it offered for sale elsewhere.
Her small beakers are a delight and really affordable and intended to be used, but I will admit that it would take a stronger spirit than mine to pour coffee/tea or wine into one.
Which is a great shame because they are intended for daily use and I'm sure the pleasure of the piece could only be heightened by constant handling.

What's more unusual is you could even afford to break one and then only mourn the loss of the object rather than the "financial disaster" that has just occurred.
Now that is a rare thing.

I have tried without success to give a feeling of how her work looks but it really does depend upon the lighting, so here is a very small mixture, I hope it just gives a small understanding of what these beautiful ceramics are like.

I have known for a long time that she is going to be "great" but I very much doubt that a thought like that has ever gone though her mind.

I am VERY proud that her work is always here on show and feel a little shamed that I haven't talked about her in the past.

Better late than never.
Thank you Anja.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Many people know of the artist that I will now talk of, indeed I have talked about her before, Rima Staines.
Not only is she an incredible artist but she also has perhaps one of the
Worlds most followed blogs.
Rima is not only an extraordinary artist but also a person who has had an extra-ordinary life,
after all not many of us have spent a year of our life living in a travelling horsebox.
She is a constant source of delight and interest to me, and fortunately for me her work isn't just something that I have to view online as we are the only gallery that shows her work,
and as a result I can have a "quick fix" now and again by looking at her original art.

I know I mentioned Rima before when we collaborated to publish a selection of her paintings as 'Fine Art' prints exclusive to Imagine Gallery.
I was reminded of this today when I went to have a peek at her blog.
Wow! She had taken the most beautiful photographs of her prints as she was signing them,
the prints arrived on her doorstep rolled up in a tube, but only Rima could have turned this into a wonderful "photo" opportunity.
The pictures she has taken of the prints and her autograph are nothing short of art,
mind you her signature alone is a work of art.

Not only had she placed these pictures on her blog but she had also published some beautiful photographs of an original artwork that we have here on display.
This was her contribution to our 'Ancient Mariner' exhibition, it is an original painting on a piece of wood.
Not any piece of wood, but a piece especially chosen for the painting,
as nothing about Rima could ever be random or by chance.
While many of us would have just seen a flaw in the wood Rima could see only an arrow,
so her arrow became the starting point of the painting.
An arrow piecing the heart of the Albatross which was being held by the suffering Mariner.
Or are both their hearts being pierced? I think maybe so.
There are many other unusual things in the painting that are very personal to Rima,
and although I admit that I know the full history it is perhaps not for me to tell.

She has photographed the painting against a background created by nature, it looks beautiful
and I admit I would never have thought of doing that, I wished that I had.
The painting here in the gallery looks equally as beautiful although now it is in a case.
It looks very precious [as it should].

It was the beauty of her photographs that determined me to mention her work and the limited editions that we are showing.
Rima is a real "one of a kind", a very clever woman but one who is so humble and very
ordinary, which seems such an odd thing to say.
How can such a talented person ever be ordinary?
So let me say her manner is very ordinary and very humble, yet the artist within is anything but
There will be more to tell of Rima, as in the future I wish to show her and her equally talented partner Tom as a collaboration.
Now that will be an unusual show.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

After spending the last three weeks travelling around the country it feels nice to have my life back again. Although the various trips have been fun and as a result the gallery is full of new treasures.
Too many things have happened in a short time so there are lots of tales to tell about many artists that I have met recently, and I admit my memories and thoughts are getting muddled and are overlapping a little bit, so perhaps it is easiest for me just to mention my very last visit.
This was to Liverpool where I was going to collect work from the amazing sculptor
Emma Rodgers.

We have been privileged to have been showing Emma's work for a number of years, I can't remember when I first spoke with her but I do remember I was nervous.
Perhaps I need to explain that Emma is something of a legend in ceramic circles, and indeed if
you were to talk of sculptors with most potters you will find that most have only heard of two
and one of those will be Emma.
As first and foremost she is a ceramic sculptor.
So in a small circle she is very famous.
Moving beyond the ceramic circle you find that she has even greater worldwide recognition.
She no longer works exclusively with clay, most of her work now is cast in bronze and is in great demand with collectors around the world, but of course as everyone knows once you have touched clay then you are hooked for life, so she still does produce ceramic sculptures and these are the pieces I cherish the most.
Just imagine how it feels to hold a sculpture by such a well known person knowing that
"this is the only piece in the world", it isn't one of an edition but is truly unique.
Knowing that these are the things that I like whenever I call Emma she will ask
"tell me what sort of pieces you want".
Usually that will be "A Rook and anything else you have, like another Rook".
Of course she does send us some of these but being a little wiser than myself she will intersperse them with other lovely pieces.

I will admit her work fits into the "love it or hate it" arena and we sometimes have the occasional idiot visiting the gallery complaining that they are too disturbing, but more frequently people are overcome by the shear power and emotion in her work.
She is such a very clever and fascinating lady and I am lucky enough to know her a little.

I was travelling to see her after attending the last day of a ceramic show 'Art in Clay'.
This show is a must on my yearly calendar as I know many of the artists showing there and it is
always an opportunity to collect new work and talk with old friends.
So with the rain pouring down and the show coming to a close I packed the car with the new work I had collected, set my 'SatNav' for Liverpool and set of for what was to be a very interesting visit.

Although I have wanted to for a long while I had never visited Emma's studio before and I was both excited and slightly nervous about the prospect.
Excited because it was going to be a new experience and nervous because I was frightened of doing or saying the wrong things, and as a result scaring her away.
This sounds stupid but I find I feel like it a lot when I am visiting someone who I really admire.
Perhaps it's because you are visiting what is their most personal and private space, and that deserves a lot of respect and I don't want to spoil that for them in anyway.

I needn't have worried with Emma, firstly she is such an easy going down to earth person,
secondly, as soon as I arrived she bundled me back into the car
and took me off to another work space of hers.
A foundry.
I have only visited such a place once before and found it fascinating, this time even more so
as the whole making process was explained to me by Emma and her friend the owner.

For some time she has been working in this strange and totally non private work space, for the new sculpture that she is creating is on a very grand scale and had it been built at her studio then it couldn't have been transported.
So in this giant industrial building this small woman [not frail] has been working away in a corner, building a most beautiful sculpture from wax.
So involved in her work was she that within minutes of introducing me to the casting team
she was standing at the sculpture adding and smoothing lumps of wax.
Oblivious to what was happening around her she stood in her raincoat with handbag still on her shoulder deeply engrossed with her art.
She only paused and then stopped when I asked how the finished piece will look.

How to describe it.

I think all I can really do is to show a photograph of it when it is finished and in "situ" on a small hillside in the county of Shropshire.
It is a running woman with a long trailing dress under which is sheltering and running with her
a hare. I believe her name is Melangell and she is protecting the hare from the huntsman.
Although very large in scale, even at this stage the sculpture looked light and very delicate.
I have promised myself that one day I will visit the site were it is to be installed, I can just imagine it in a winters mist, the woman running down the hill with her ten foot bronze dress flowing behind her. Still that's for another day.

So rushing on and missing out my tour of Liverpool and our conversation, I did eventually
visit Emma's own private and very intimate studio.
It was almost like a small museum, every surface and wall space was covered by the many varied objects and stuffed animals that inspire her.
I will return and tell you of one incredible sculpture that I had journeyed to collect
but rather than use more words I will just show some snapshots of her studio.

I intend to visit that place again, but next time there will be no nervousness as Emma had made me so welcome, showed me so much and given me such an incredible glimpse into her world.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Often nothing gets written simply because there is too much to tell.
On these occasions I tend to dither about what to write for so long that in the end it seems unimportant and not worth telling about which then ends my dilemma.
I think it's called being lazy.

Now it is that time of year when there is lots going on in the art world especially with ceramics,
there are shows and fairs up and down the length of our small country
and I try to visit as many as I can.
Most of the time I encounter the same people, which is strange in itself as you can start
a conversation in Oxfordshire and the following week conclude it in Scotland.
It feels almost like we are travellers on the road and only get to meet and talk in locations
far from home, but I have developed some good relationships maybe even friendships
with different artists whose studios I have never visited.
It is funny to think that at times they seem too far away to visit but I will think nothing of
driving hundreds of miles in the knowledge and anticipation of meeting them in
varied locations which are home to none of us.

I can be great fun sometimes and I suppose I regard these as my little adventures,
certainly they are the closest that I ever come to having a holiday
which is perhaps a sad reflection on my life.
So my last few weeks [and another to come] have been occupied with journeys.
On Sunday I go on another first to Hertfordshire and then from there to Liverpool.
What makes it interesting and fun for me is that I have no idea [well only a little] of what
I may return to the gallery with, the only thing that is certain is that by this time next week it will look totally different here to how it is today, but it will look beautiful of that I'm sure.

So my thoughts have been very much centered on the various new pieces of work that have
started to fill spaces in the gallery,
but what has occupied my thoughts more is the the anticipation
of what we may have here in the future.
Well isn't that human nature? We always want what we haven't got.
A lot of what I am anticipating and desire is coming from Ireland
We have different art from that island on show in the gallery at all times and the place itself is constantly in my thoughts.

The past two weeks have seen me being very fortunate as because of the fairs I have been able to collect new work from different Irish artists without the need to travel there,
although the excuse would have been welcome.
But there is still other art from that country that I desire and which may arrive very soon.
So rather than tell you about my trips [which I may do] I am just going to show you
pictures of different art I have collected and some that I will collect soon.
Of course I won't be happy until I have everything.

The various work above is by the sculptor Christy Keeney and the two painters
David Shanahan and Jimmy Lawlor.
I will admit that it is unlikely that I will have the exact paintings above by Jimmy as they
are sold, but that makes the anticipation of what I might have even more exciting,
like I was saying you want what you haven't yet got.