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, 28 January 2012

The return journey.
Or 'There and back again' would sound better if J.R.R. Tolkien hadn't used it for "The Hobbit".

Really this is just a follow up to the last 'post' that I was too tired to do last night.
So if you were anticipating fights with Dragons and Goblins you have come to the wrong place,
although I did visit "Barrow Hill" which is a very bad place, unless you love Cider.

Anyway, leaving the town of 'Saint Ives' on a wet misty morning, I was undecided about where I should visit on my journey home.
There are so many really exciting artists working in this corner of England that I really didn't know where to head for.
I sat in the car tapping different addresses into my 'SatNav' trying to work out what [Or who] I could fit in on my return journey.
I knew that I would not be this far south for some time so I wanted to make the most of the trip.
It was impossible to decide, I have so many old friends in that area I didn't know where to go.
The decision was made for me by John Bedding.
Well not really him just his advice, because of an exhibition that I have planned for June of this year.
It has been in my thoughts for many months, it has been something that has fascinated me
for a long time and I admit that I have been greatly influenced by another blogger,
Margaret Brampton.
Not only does her own work intrigue me but she has lead me down the path of history.
So for some time I have had the thoughts "let's do Reliquary as an exhibition",
then recently I decided to stop pondering and to actually do it.
As a result I feel very contented and excited and I have a feeling that I will tell more about
who is involved in the near future.

One person who has confirmed "just one piece" is John Bedding,
the man who instigated.
He suggested that I look at the work of 'Sim Taylor'.
"His thoughts are there already", he told me.

So I did look at his work, and also where he worked.
"I can do that on the way home".
As a result my route back to Suffolk was dictated by the need to visit this man,
which was made harder because he was lecturing at a University in North Somerset and his time was restricted.
I spoke with him, we fixed a time to meet and then the rest of my journey was based around our meeting.
Hhhhmmmmmm, who to visit?
There were two people that I would like to visit but only the time to see one.

Decision made, I set off to see John Leach the potter.
I had last seen him maybe 29 years ago! Little wonder that I look old [but only 18 inside].
John not only happens to be the grandson of the famous Bernard Leach but more importantly he lives only 5 miles from 'Barrow Hill Cider Press'. How convenient.
So after our different "lunch breaks" I parked my car outside his pottery/gallery just as he was
opening after his lunch.
Although we had met many times in the past I wasn't silly or vain enough to think that he would remember me, and he didn't.
That made no difference, he welcomed me inside and said
"quick come and look at these before they all go".
He was talking about an exhibition of prints that had been on show for two months in his gallery by the artist Julia Manning.
" Ooohh it was so good", he said.
"It was embarrassing as we sold so many.
Hhmmm, no, no it wasn't embarrassing at all it was good".
What a lovely man to assume that I had come to see the art of someone else.

However, I was excited as for a long time I had been trying to contact Julia, and here she was
in front of me packing up her few unsold prints.

I will cut a very long story short,
which I don't really want to as John and I talked of many events, potters, artists and friends,
and I know we both enjoyed the reminiscence, except for the mention of the death of the potter
Ray Finch.
His smile vanished from his beard covered face.
"Oh that man was my mentor, I will miss him so much. We are going there tomorrow".
Apart from that the chat was fun and enjoyable.
Eventually he said, "I must go, I lost the key to the kiln shed two days ago and the blacksmith has called to say he has made a replacement, but it needs 'tweaking'.

Where in the world would you use a blacksmith to get a new key?
Only in deep Somerset.

But before I left I had hurried discussions with Julia Manning and to my great delight I walked out of the Leach Pottery with pictures to bring home.

Before I drove away I decided to take a couple of pictures of the pottery "just in case".
I took one photograph but it wasn't right so I crossed the road to take another.
"That's more like it".
Then a car pulled in front of the pottery/cottage.
Out of the car climbed John Leach.
"Oh, John you are still here"?
"Yes I was just taking a picture of the famous 'John Leach' pottery when some old bugger parked there car and spoilt it".
"I'm sorry about that".
"Now your here make yourself useful and pose for my Blog".

This is all true.
So there he was the world famous potter with a bag of shopping posing for you all.
"I know a potter near here you should go and see, Paul Jessop. He's blogging mad.
I don't know how he finds time to make his pots".
Of course Paul was the other potter that I would have liked to have visited.

But hey! Paul your a youngster, us old folk have to meet while we are still here.
Next time.

From the Leach pottery I drove to?
Actually I'm not sure as I just did what "SatNav" told me.
Eventually I arrived in the evening at a University where I was greeted by the incredible
Sim Taylor.
I have never seen someone so young, so handsome with such long hair since I was eighteen.
That was me looking in the mirror many years ago.
Sim is a real dynamic character, full of life and enthusiasm for his art, it is little wonder that he is so sought after as a lecturer and teacher of ceramics.
He whisked me away to his room and showed and explained to me the philosophy and techniques of his creations.
He was so humble when describing his ceramic sculptures.
" I am honoured that you have bothered to come and see me", he said many times.

I felt like saying "are you stupid? The honour and pleasure is mine".
I told him after looking at his work "you are going to be so big".
He shook his head, and that is what I liked so much.
He is striving to make beautiful things not a name for himself, that was unimportant to him.

But he will become known, just for the simple reason that he is interested in his craft.
I don't have the time to write more about Sim or his art, plus I don't want to as I intend to write an article about him.
After all if he is not interested in promoting himself so someone had better do it for him.
Most importantly he agreed to participate in the Reliquary exhibition.

Five hours after leaving him,with a head full of memories and loud music I arrived home.
To the ecstatic welcome of two beautiful dogs.
They missed me.
This is what life [or at least mine] is all about.


  1. Great crusty surfaces on those reliquary.

  2. I can't believe you were so close John,
    and the guy who owns Burrow Hill Cider "Julian" his wife Di comes to my evening classes. and there even closer, you were no more than 4 miles away. But I'll see you at Rufford in June. and by the way I'm gonna be 50 this year.