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, 7 January 2012

Self doubt.
I'm sure that it is something that we all have from time to time, especially me.
This might come as a surprise to the people who may find me a little [or a lot] arrogant, but
usually this only comes to the surface when someone is critical of the work we show.
My own self doubt [my own photography aside] arises when I think that maybe I have made
a bad decision about how different pieces of art should be displayed, or if I think I have not
done justice to the work, as I know and understand that presentation is everything and it is very easy to undersell something with a poor display.
Sometimes I think that maybe I am showing the wrong combination of different works and so
I start again, or maybe I think that new displays need to be built for a certain piece.
I constantly worry that I haven't got the window display right, or I get indecisive about what should be in the window.
The one thing that doesn't worry me or cause doubts is the quality and variety of work we show.
So with all this in mind I found myself getting slightly concerned and later very annoyed
when the "seeds of doubt" were sown by someone this week.

I have mentioned before that I don't enjoy it when different artists come in "cold" and ask would I look at their work?
I don't dislike it and I am pleased to have the opportunity to look at something new, but I do
hate having to say "no" if I don't like the work or if I feel that it would be misplaced in our gallery.
Sometimes the art presented can be great but it just wouldn't look in place here, and it often
comes as a surprise that people don't first have a look at what we show and then think
"would my art fit in with what they show"?
But, I do look at all work presented and at times with a heavy heart have to say no.
What I have been shown may be really good but it wasn't for me.

So it was this week I had one such "cold call".
The artist in question had been inside the gallery with his partner for a while, and as is usual
we started having a chat about different pieces of work etc.
Nothing unusual there, then he told me that he was a sculptor and that he happened to have
some work with him in the car that had just been returned from another gallery.
Sculpture! He had hit my soft spot, I always want to see new sculptors.
I might not like what they have created but I definitely want to see it as I have a fear that it
might be the one that "slipped through the net".
So I did view his work.
It was bronze animal sculpture, for me this is often very dubious as there seems to be many people out there all producing very similar not very good brown bronze sculpture and all of it set with a high price tag,
because after all we all know bronze is expensive.
Which is exactly what he told me when I questioned the price of a Wren.
"Blimey", I thought. I could have created a bird garden for that price.
However his work was not without merit and both he and his partner seemed very nice people
and I enjoyed talking with them and when they left much later I was the recipient of one new sculpture.
Since then I have looked at his piece many times and pondered and indeed a little doubt grew in my mind, "did I take this for the right reasons]? Still what was done was done so now I will do my best to display it properly and achieve a sale for him.

Next morning I had a call from the same artist.
It started really well, he told me how much they had enjoyed having a chat with me and how much they liked the gallery, "we talked about it all the way home", he said.
"However, we did have some thoughts".

Yes, I was going to get the benefit of those thoughts.

They loved the gallery, the building , the displays etc,etc. It reminded them of one other really good gallery which is very successful financially and has sold "thousands" of pounds worth of his work.
Apparently there was only one major difference between us, they had an identity and we didn't.
"if you had an identity you would do really well", I was told.

While he was giving me his [well intended, I am sure] advice] I looked online at the other
"similar" gallery.
"now if only you............."
at which point I interrupted him to tell him I was looking at the "art" of the other gallery while
he was talking.

"What am I looking at"?
A painting by an English artist of a scene of Venice, another still life painting of a vase of flowers, a painting of race horses.
" I have seen it all before, the only difference is the paintings had different names on them.
I wouldn't give them house room", I told him.

Then on to their sculpture, which was all wildlife and animals
[which I have no problem with if done well].
"I am looking at bronze brown horses, they are crap".
What else was there?
Brown bronze, Lion heads, Elephants, Tigers, Antelope, Penguins, game birds, and even Pears
[wow! I haven't seen those somewhere else for at least a week].

"It is all rubbish", I told him.
"Yes, but they make lots of money, everything sells in the thousands, because of them I have had my best year ever, and it's all because they have an identity".

I tried to explain to him that so too had Imagine Gallery.
It is different, everything in it is different, but it sits together well because it all has a common thread, me, I love it all.
I tried to explain to him that we all have many different aspects to our personalities and
that the varied collection that we show was just a collection of all the things that I love in the world, that I equally loved the abstract paintings and sculpture as much as the life like work that we show, that the illustration from a children's book that hangs on the wall was equal in beauty to a famous painting that hangs beside it, that I loved a small rough pot from Japan
priced at £20 every bit as much as a bronze priced in the thousands".
He just didn't get it.
"You need more bronze, he told me".
Unaware that when he was here he was standing next to a fabulous and very expensive bronze
while he was talking to me. He didn't know because it wasn't shiny and brown.

[Thanks Emma that bronze is one of the pieces that I am proud to have on display].

He tried again to make me understand that the other "similar" gallery was making
"loads of money".

"If money was our only motive we wouldn't be here, we would have done something different".
I explained.
We never set out to make money, even though like everyone we need it.
Our gallery is here because Irene [bless her] realised that there was something in my life that I wanted to achieve, and that "something" was showing this great mixture of beautiful artifacts.
Sure, we want and have to make money but that has never been the goal.
To survive, and do something as interesting and fulfilling and as much fun as this was.
In that respect I am rich.

I was wasting my breath, he knew I was an idiot.
Indeed thinking things through over and over again today, I think maybe I am wrong.
The seeds of doubt were planted by someone who boasts great success.
As he told me "the trouble with your gallery you can only sell to people who think like you".
Very true, but I hope there are more people out there who appreciate beauty more than a
brown shiny overpriced piece of bronze.

My parting words were [as always]
"it's my party....."

"yeah, I know, .......and you will cry if you want to", he replied before hanging up.

Cry I will, and cry I do, but never caused by egotistic, vain, money grabbing fools like him.

So on a parting note I am showing you a few "wacky" sculptures by two people who don't understand the importance of "life like, shiny bronze shit".
I mean to say, when did you last see horses in the wild that looked like this?
Never, and as for a Unicorn?

The beautiful pieces are by Paul Priest and Elaine Peto, two people who aren't chasing money.
Just Life


  1. Your words make my hair stand on end with shivers up the spine of hope & wonder! Best wishes to the Imagine Gallery for 2012 and for many more to years to come!

  2. Thank you Hollis and Mo.
    I must admit I worry all the time that I am doing the wrong thing [for the family] but I can only hold true to my own beliefs and dreams.
    So thank you.

    I do hope Hollis that this is the year that we are going to have at least ons beautiful "Hollis" tea bowl on display, and I have certainly given a lot of thought to a tea bowl exhibition [all one price].

    By the way Mo.
    Don't I owe you a photograph from a year ago?
    I'm sure it was you who asked. If it was send your address and I will get it in the post.
    If it wasn't you.
    Forget I mentioned it.

    I hope you hope have a really happy year.

  3. I've never had the good fortune to visit your gallery in person. But even through the ether I can sense it has it's own wonderfully unique identity. It's what it attracted me, and I suspect many others to your blog. Please don't ever change!

  4. Dear Mrs Kit & Kaboodle [or is it Kate].

    Your own photographs have been a source of inspiration [and great frustration] to me.
    You make beautiful pictures and I am really pleased that you like some of the things that you see on my blog.
    I wish someone like you would walk through the door and ask
    "would you look at my art"?
    Better still I wish I had created some of it.

  5. Hi again John
    Thanks for the reminder of my order for your stunning photograph of the solitary tree with the crows, have just sent you an e-mail & look forward to seeing it in real life here in Sydney!

  6. Oh my, there must be a lot of us out there who
    "don't get it". Good job too, otherwise the world would be a very dull place.

    I often 'visit' and drool, in between regretting that a teacher's salary doesn't allow for proper collecting. But without you, I would not be able to view and treasure the sight of the wonders that are out there.

    Keep on "not getting it" please.

  7. Your posts always encourage me to strive for excellence. Stay away from those pompous asses and trust your very true intuition!

  8. What a berk! pardon my English. He is obviously not an artist if all he thinks about his bottom line and why, if he is successful, is he searching for a new gallery.

    One of the reasons I love your blog and I suspect I would love your gallery in person, is because it is different and eclectic. There are so many galleries that stay with the safe room size paintings,sculptures or ceramics that fit in with the decor!

    My brief time as a Framer with local chain store over here, showed me that people tend to be like that about framing as well. They would often bring in a piece of work with another framed piece, expecting us to do exactly the same frame, regardless of whether the art work would look good or not, as it fitted in with their decor or furniture. Obviously, a chain store is built to cater to these people, just like the so called artist's preferred gallery. Keep doing what you do best.

  9. Really, I'm speechless! That is the most disrespectful and arrogant thing to do.

  10. I treasure coming here to see the works you show in your gallery.

  11. Thank you everyone for your support.
    I have even had people calling me to say things like
    "ignore what that rude man said", which was what I had intended to do, but it had troubled me.
    For a short while I did question myself and started to wonder if I had got it all wrong?
    I sit here and look around and think that everything is different and beautiful but then after a few thoughtless comments from someone I started to think "maybe its just me, perhaps I have got it wrong".

    Luckily though the arrogance in me took over, "how can I be wrong"?
    Not only that, I know in my heart I am showing some lovely different
    work which gives not only me but others pleasure.

    But it was nice to be reassured by you all, thank you.

  12. How rude! As someone else said, if he's already so happy with his wonderfully (and crassly?!) commercial gallery that's making him lots of money, why is he bothering you and trying to tell you how to run your business? I found your beautiful website through Jackie Morris, and I love the wonderful things you display, the pieces are magical and inspiring. If I didn't live on the other side of the planet, I might perhaps one day work up the courage to bring one of my pieces in to show you, and if you thought it good enough, I'd be dancing down the street, not giving you marketing advice!

  13. I've never posted here before, but I visit the blog often. I love the variety. I would wish I lived nearer, but then you might be annoyed that I came and looked but didn't buy! I just don't have the funds.
    But don't stop being you and discovering the amazing and unusual.

    I found out about your gallery when several different (seperate) artists I follow mentioned it. They were rejoicing to have you discover them and I had to go see somehow and found the blog. So, I guess if you like them, too, that must say something encouraging to me about what I enjoy looking at!

  14. Happy New Year John, I got wound up just reading it, having to listern to it must have made your blood boil.
    I never swear on the blog, but I do sometimes swear at customers, and I'm sure I would have told him to F**k OFF.

  15. Oh good for you. I walk humbly into Galleries after making an appointment and can't imagine how anyone could behave in your sacred space like that. I'd have wanted to hit him. So agree with the other comments above.

  16. Hello Mrs Attic, or is it "Mermaid".
    Thank you for your kind comments, I would love to say that what he said doesn't bother me but it still does.
    Anyway, I wish you were able to walk in here, but in a way you already have.
    I tried to purchase your "Beauty and Beast" print at the "Terri" auction
    but I left it too late and couldn't understand the bidding process, so although I put in the highest bid they didn't know who I was so it went to the next person on the list.
    That picture is really special, pity it isn't on the wall here.
    Still, it isn't made of bronze and ordinary people could afford it, so what was I thing of?

  17. Hello Sandy

    I also wished that you lived closer.
    Some of my most enjoyable days have been spent just talking about the different art and artists.
    I really like nothing more than talking about something I love, if it sells as a result "great", but that isn't my motive for talking about the people and their art.
    So if you could ever make it here then you won't be expected to make a purchase but I would love it if you wanted to talk about the things that we show.

    1. Hi John,
      Thanks. you are so kind. If I do get there, I will come say hello and look at the art while you tell me about it. all the best,
      PS I couldn't get back onto comment because it flashes the page and then goes white. So I tried Google chrome et voila.

  18. Hi Paul
    I don't need to wish you a 'Happy New Year', as it seems from your blog that it is happening for you.
    I will see you at Rufford and just make sure that you bring a bottle of Birthday cider with you.

    It is funny but your comment is exactly what I thought myself.
    I would have loved to have told him that it was "so easy", after all he only has to mortgage his home, find the premises and then put his money where his mouth is while gambling with his families future.
    I know from your own experience that you have an idea that it isn't
    all fun and involves a lot of hours and work.
    But more than anything I would have liked to tell him to F*** off.

  19. Kay
    Never be humble just believe in yourself, then others will.
    Hhhhhhhmmmmm! Sounds so easy.

    "hit him"? No, I couldn't do that.
    I wanted to beat the b*****d to death with his own sculpture.
    He certainly has won my award for being the rudest most egotistc,
    vain person who has come in here.

  20. I like that last comment John, Nice one.

  21. Get daily suggestions and methods for generating $1,000s per day ONLINE totally FREE.