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
"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".
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.