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, 27 October 2012

Winter is definitely here.
Suddenly the days are shorter, darker and colder.
OK, it wasn't exactly sudden but I had been looking forward to having an Autumn.
Summer? They are so last years thing, we don't do them anymore.
Today we have had everything but snow here in the village, but I suppose we are lucky as I know that there has been snow falling nearer the coast.
Of course thinking of snow brings my thoughts back to Christmas, I don't know why it should as somehow nature usually conspires to make snow fall about a week too early or too late, in fact I suppose I really associate 'fog' with Christmas because as a child I remember going shopping for presents [with half a'crown that Mum had given me] and in my memory it was always foggy.
Even that has gone now and the only thing that is 'foggy' is my memory.

Whatever, my thoughts are on Christmas and today like any naughty child I had to open some presents.
Not exactly presents [although they might be for someone] but pieces of art that have arrived for our
festive exhibition.

I'm not sure how these should be described, are they candle holders or books?
"Candlebooks" is how I have labelled them.
Of course they do work as candle holders but both myself and their creator Chris Edwards
perceive them as sculptures.
These sculptures have been a long time in the waiting [and the creating] we discussed them many months ago, always with a Christmas showing in mind and I had thought that they would be in my hands sooner, but I have come to understand that Chis is a craftsman who will not release anything until he and I were both happy with the work.
It should come as no surprise to learn that he had worked as a designer/maker for stage, television and film as everything that he creates tells a story, or at least part of a story.

It was early in spring when we first talked about these pieces, I explained to him that I was looking for something magical, old and 'Dickension' for the window display.
" I know what you mean, "misty, Scrooge like".
We were both thinking the same way.
So many, many months later these 'Candlebooks' eventualy arrived.
They really are old copies of the works by Charles Dickens, although now they and the silver candle holder are one object, plus of course the individual silver "wax" droplets.
Absolute magic and exactly what I was after.

There is only one problem.
I couldn't help myself, today I had to put them on display to gauge the reaction.
Big mistake, I only have three left for Christmas.
Still, as they say "you can only sell them once".
Unfortunately, because now I will have gaps at the exhibition.
Luckily I have just had a late evening telephone conversation with another clever and creative person and I think that now I will have some new sculptures which will be equally as exciting and unusual.
Let's wait and see.

All of the above aside,
I will give one sneak preview by an artist I have yearned to show for a long time.
He created this famous picture [and many others] a long time ago but it is his more recent work that so excites me, and some of these I will show you in the near future.
Until then here is
"The Man Who Fell to Earth" painted by George Underwood.
Although this painting is now a piece of art history when I told George how much I had loved it he said
"I have a "cracking" print of that if you want to show it".
Yes please.

Monday, 22 October 2012

"Onwards and upwards".
It seems to be the daily mantra for me.
Having the opening of an exhibition always makes me feel that "now I can take a break",
but that never seems to happen as there is the ever present thought of "what's next"?
Having devoted all of my recent time to one event it now seems that I must forget about that and focus on the next, still at least I have the pleasure of looking at the results of a lot of planning and dreaming
while I am "planning and dreaming" of the next exhibition.
In fact not just the next one, but the one that follows and the one after that.

Which makes me pause for a moment, as I think a few of you may be hearing from me about that,
but, for the moment that is a future worry the one that concerns me and has all of my attention at the moment is our 'Christmas Exhibition'.
Much as there is a great part of me that adores Christmas in a very childlike way I have never before taken the exhibition side of it too seriously as I feel that so many galleries just use it as an umbrella 
under which to "stock up"for the future and that this cheapens the idea of it being an exhibition and is very unfair on the artists.

Maybe that is the right thing to do, who knows?

This year I decided that what I would would do is to treat the Christmas exhibition "very" seriously.
So I decided to contact and to visit artists whose work I really want to show but haven't got the appropriate group show for, or who I couldn't give a solo show to for some time.
This way I felt we could exhibit work I really like sooner rather than later,
plus, they would have to be special pieces as it is Christmas, usually that bring out the best in us all.

As a result I have been travelling again, travelling and collecting.
This time yet again my journey took me far north and meant stopping overnight at different locations.
one of these was of course 'The Green Dragon" in Yorkshire but I will not mention that as I think I have given them perhaps too much publicity in the past.
However if you travel north make sure to stop at..........................................................................!

I went to visit various artists, some we have exhibited before some we haven't, one in particular I have been pestering for some time and who I thought would never succumb to my persuasion.
At last he has, the potter Rob Watson.
He is a very "northern" man, if such a thing exists, he is very "down to earth" and has no interest in celebrity or exhibiting with galleries, he is far happier to just make what pleases him and sell it to the people who make their way to his door.
But at last I have managed to persuade him to show his beautiful pots with us at Christmas.
He is a man who works in many styles and who uses an extensive colour palette.
Those I have shown I chose because I love them, plus the colour is very fitting for the season.

 Another person who I am pleased to be showing is the lovely Jessica Irena.
I have long wanted to have on display one of her 'Mountain Goat" sculptures, at last I shall.
This Glass and bronze sculpture will be shown alongside some of her delicate glass bowls.

I should really be telling you more about the people and my visits with them, but as always this is being written last thing before I leave for the day, and now I have an extra reason to want to get home.
We have a new addition to the family, "Bramble", another Old English Sheepdog puppy.
I say "puppy"but she is growing by the minute and is wrecking the home.
Good thing I'm hiding here at the gallery.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

OK, I told a little white lie.
It is the day after tomorrow that I am showing you the wood carvings by Stephen Henderson.
I am still trying to sort out the photographs but I think they are worth waiting for.

It amazes me that work of such fragile beauty is carved from driftwood and other pieces of wood and metal that have been discarded by the rest of us, things that have cluttered up our lives all find a way to be reborn under the hands of Stephen.
But, then he is in an ideal location for a man of his talents.
He lives in a building that was once an old 'PUB', which is hard to understand as it is in such a remote location with no road that leads to it, just a dirt track that takes you for miles until you arrive at what was once [many years ago] a thriving port.
Perhaps "port" is too grand a word, but it was certainly the centre of a thriving community.
Trading barges used to arrive daily from London, navigating there way up the tidal creek until they arrived at the wharf which is his home.
It is now so desolate and remote with only a few timbers showing where the jetty once was it really is hard to imagine, especially the idea of an Inn in such an uninhabited location.
But "back in the day" the waterside inn must have been a very welcome site after a long journey.

Now the only inhabitants apart from Stephen and his family are birds and water creatures.
These are the source of his art and the materials used to create it are found on his daily walks along
the shore and over the marshes that surround his house.

The home where he was born and has spent his entire life.

Unfortunately I have never taken a photograph of his studio [I'm sure he would call it a workshop],
even though I have visited many times and on every visit with the intention of doing so.
It is a beautiful wooden building set just yards from the creek and with a view that stretches for miles.
"Breathtaking" is a word that comes to mind, every visit I stand mesmerised looking at the scene.

The scene inside the studio is no less dramatic,
apart from the wood burning stove every conceivable table, floor and wall space is covered with sculptures in various stages of creation.
Many finished, some awaiting assembly or painting and many still as crude shapes of wood with outlines sketched upon them.
Outside the door are piles of driftwood, pieces of old boats, weathered timber from various parts of the country and various discarded bits and pieces, all awaiting to be converted into objects of beauty.

With these sculptures alongside the dynamic work by Sam MacDonald,
I just know that I am going to have a few weeks of pleasure enjoying my own private collection.
Of course they aren't mine but until the exhibition they are mine every day.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I think to myself.
"This job is better than working for a living".

Monday, 1 October 2012

Without pictures the words mean nothing, so in the absence of images I have as usual posted nothing.
But, now I have some images so I have no excuse for not writing.
As usual I have photographs because we have an impending exhibition, when we will be showing sculptures by two totally different artists, working in different mediums but
whose work has strong links.
There names are Stephen Henderson and Sam MacDonald.
I am still awaiting the arrival of Stephen's art so for the moment I will just show sculptures created by Sam.

I have admired and coveted his work for a very long time and it is with a mixture of pleasure and disappointment that I have watched his career go from strength to strength.
The only reason that I felt disappointment was because the galleries that he was showing at were getting more and more prestigious and I could see that soon he would be someone far out of our reach,
perhaps working to commission only, which is what seems to happen.

But as usual it became a case of the 'bigger' the artist the 'nicer' and more approachable the person.
One thing for sure Sam is very nice and very grounded artist with no hint of an ego,
success and fame is not going to change him
I suppose this should be expected from a lad who comes from Orkney Islands, way up above Scotland
surrounded by the Atlantic.
A wild, remote and beautiful location, a strange beginning for a man now shown in some of
London's most prestigious galleries.
The Orkney's is of course where his love of the sea and its creatures comes from.
Even though he now lives on mainland Scotland his work still very much represents this environment,
but now his sculptures also depict a less dramatic but equally beautiful landscape.

Before the move his sculptures portrayed the Ocean and the culture of the men who worked there, now he is just as likely to be sculpting a pair of trout or Salmon as his work has changed and become more gentle along with his surroundings.
Myself I still love his sculptures that depict the sea, in particular those that show what seems like portions of sunken ships with fish swimming past the empty portholes.
They make me feel that although I will never experience such a thing I have actually witnessed it.

I had long put off contacting him as I could see his career really taking off and taking him
to many grand locations.
But like on many occasions I thought "you don't ask you don't get",
and like many times in the past I "did get" plus I got to know a very nice man as a bonus.
He called me the other day and during the conversation I was thinking
"I wonder what he has called about".
The answer was simple, he had just called to have a chat and to get to know me a little better.
How much nicer this is than it just being a relationship about selling his art.
He also gave me advice when I told him of a young artist whose work I loved and wanted to show,
but who I was unsure about contacting fearing a rebuff because of her rising reputation.
"John, you have got to ask her. You must always ask, sometimes people would like that,
so ask her you might be surprised".

Of course he was right.
After all Sam said "yes," and now I have the immense pleasure of exhibiting and selling his art.

Tomorrow I will show the equally beautiful, but different sculptures by Stephen Henderson.