Most of the time I enjoy visiting different artists, it gives me the opportunity to choose the pieces of work that I feel are most suited to our gallery, but more importantly it gives me a little
insight into the world of that maker / creator.
It enables me to have a greater understanding of why they create what they do,
plus also on many occasions I get to see their source of inspiration.
I feel very fortunate to have these opportunities and it really helps when talking with prospective
purchasers who have not been as fortunate, but who still desire to have first hand knowledge
of the artist.
So my many trips around the country are usually something that I enjoy, plus the solitude
of a long drive gives me the opportunity to think through problems.
Believe me there are many when running a gallery.
My journeys take me to many places around our island and as a result I have come to regard many places as "home", or at least I feel comfortable in that region, town or even hotel.
But there are occasional exceptions.
About three weeks ago I experienced one of these.
I wanted to visit various sculptors who happened to be showing together in Herefordshire,
it was a good idea to visit as I could reduce three trips down to one.
Unfortunately, but as usual for me I left all of my travel arrangements until the evening before I left.
Never again, this time I have learnt my lesson and I will try never, ever to repeat it.
I booked a room at a hotel in the town Leominster which was the closest location that I could find to my destination as I had left it so late.
The pictures on the "hotel" web site looked pretty good, and I admit that I did pat myself on the back and thought "well done John, you know how to find them".
Trouble was when I arrived on a cold foggy night at 10.00pm I couldn't find the hotel.
I have come to really trust my 'satnav' but this time it let me down
as it brought me to an 'Indian takeaway' restaurant which was situated next to a very "sleazy" pub.
I parked the car and wandered the streets trying to find the hotel,
I confess I didn't wander far as the area that I was situated in seemed "slightly" dangerous,
it felt like there was violence [and a kebab shop] at every corner so I decided to take 'satnav'
on trust and walked back to the 'takeaway'.
There I explained that I was looking for a certain hotel [no names mentioned].
I was told by two people that there was no such place, then a young woman of ethnic origin called out "yes, yes sir this is us".
It turns out that the website photographs were images of various hotels,
none of them being the "doss" hole that I was to stay in.
I have never slept above an Indian takeaway before and please God I never stay above this one again.
This was "the" most frightening night of my life.
I was given a key and directed up many stairways and corridors which brought me to a plywood door.
Inside was my "apartment".
I have no pictures to show as I left my camera, cloths and everything dear to me in the car
as I didn't want anything tainted by this place.
Filthy, frightening and vile would be the nicest thing that I can say about this room.
The windows were broken and covered with tape, the bed was stained
[I don't even want to think with what]
and the "bathroom" had blood splashed up the wall.
Why did I stay you may ask?
I don't know myself, but it was too late at night to find an alternative, I should have slept in the car
I now know, so I can only plead stupidity.
The door had no lock so I wedged a chair against it and lay on the bed fully clothed,
then prayed for sleep.
Of course I survived as I am here to tell the abbreviated story.
But never again, in future I will plan ahead [at least a day] and I hope that a night like that
never happens to me [or you] again.
Was it worth it?
Some of it was some of it wasn't.
Above are a few of the reasons that made it so [there are others but I lack the pictures].
The porcelain work by Tony Laverick really is sensational, it really is translucent,
when a light shines inside it just glows.
He really is an excellent craftsman, plus one of the nicest, honest gentleman I have dealings with,
I would like him even if I didn't love his "wafer" thin porcelain.
The smoke fired ceramics by Christine Gittins were also a good reason for the journey.
But of course not all good work requires a "night from Hell".
Jan Mayle [a very old friend] brings her ceramic figures here to the gallery for me to choose from.
This year she has excelled with her gentle [old looking] winter pieces.
Just what was needed for our ice cold December.
There have been other visits, some good some not,
I might tell you, might not,
but at least with them I was able to sleep in a bed not on it.
I must go now, for some reason I have the urge to have a bath.
Oh! The things I do for art.