Sometimes, when artworks arrive at the gallery it not only gives a feeling of great pleasure but also a feeling of great relief.
On occasions there are pieces of work that I want to show so much it almost hurts,
the result of this is that I am in a state of panic and disbelief until the courier eventually walks through the door carrying boxes that contain my dreams and hopes.
I always have a feeling of immense relief and a sense of even greater achievement.
That some of these artists feel a connection with the gallery and allow me to exhibit their art is a constant source of wonder, perhaps one I shouldn't analyse too much but should just be thankful for.
I have always believed and in fact my mantra has become "the greater the artist the smaller the ego",
and often the more likely to let you show their work.
We have been fortunate to have shown some really great artists in the past, the sort of artist that you would only expect to find in a city like Paris, London or New York, and in fact that is where most of them do exhibit, so it is a constant source of amazement that artists of that calibre will take a chance with our gallery which is set in the countryside.
So, I now want to show you the art of two of my favourite artists.
It sounds a terrible thing to say favourite but it is true, they are two women whose work gives me lots of pleasure and has me looking at it wondering "just how did she think of that"?
They are pieces that I would love to own, I accept that I never will but at least for a while they are mine to enjoy and I can pretend to myself that they belong to me.
The French artist Anne Bachelier [whose pen and ink drawings are shown] is someone whose work I really admire, in fact that is an understatement, I love it.
For about a year or so she has allowed us to show some of her paintings but her drawings and
'Pen & Inks' I had never seen "in the flesh" although they have captivated me for a long while.
About a month ago she returned from a trip to America where she had attended the opening of two solo exhibitions of her work, one in New York and the other in New Orleans.
Looking at the photographs that she had taken at these events was awe inspiring.
The scale of the exhibitions and the locations that they were held in worried me a little.
If I had any doubts before [which I never have] I was now aware that this was an international artist of great repute, so to understand that she allowed us to show her work gave me a "glow" inside.
On her return home she contacted me and asked would I like some fresh paintings.
Also she asked would I be interested in showing one of her Pen & Ink drawings?
This had me really excited, I really did want to have one of these on the walls.
Anne sent me photographs of five drawings to choose from, which was an impossible task as I desired them all, so I asked Irene to choose for me.
Of course she had the same Dilemma, we both loved them all.
Why did I ever worry?
In typical fashion Anne sent us all of them,
They are beautiful and I am getting a lot of satisfaction seeing them on "our" walls
If this wasn't enough to make me happy, there was more to come.
A short while ago I had the great fortune to "stumble" across an incredible sculptor.
On consideration I would say that she is one of the best sculptors that I have ever encountered,
I can think of only two others whose work I find equally as beautiful.
Seeing images of her work I became obsessed and knew that I would have no peace until something of her art was here in our gallery on display.
Of course, every other gallery was thinking the same as me, one of them really well known and very established, plus based in London.
I couldn't see how it would ever be possible to persuade her to take a chance with us, but as I mentioned before the "greater the artist the smaller the ego" and usually the nicer the person.
So armed only with determination and love of her work I set out to persuade this great artist to allow us to show her work in front of the other galleries.
It wasn't easy, but maybe it was when I told her that she would be responsible for making an old man cry if she didn't that finally persuaded her.
So to my delight and even greater relief Rachel did agree to letting us show some of her work at our
I could breath again, but I still wouldn't rest until it actually arrived.
Rachel is a sculptor, and the wife of a sculptor, but she is unlike any I have ever come across before.
I am not a gambling man but if I were I would gamble that this young woman is going to be really great, in fact I would guarantee it.
The quality of her work speaks for itself in so many ways.
The skill and also the narrative behind behind each piece, they are delicate and gentle, also made of bronze, which so far not many visitors have recognised.
They are cased in antique Victorian domes which work so well with the pieces,
perhaps this is because they were intended to be so encased.
These are an investment for any art lover.
I love these sculptures so much it almost hurts, I wanted to show them so much and I know that I will miss them like no other when they eventually leave us.
Two great artists working in different mediums, yet both creating work that moves the heart
and the soul.
I hope that you will agree that they are an excellent pairing.
It doesn't really matter if you don't as I think that they are, and having their combined work here
The last post wasn't meant to be the "final note", although it almost became it.
Like everyone I have much going on in my life, plus I have the added pressure of running a gallery.
Which of course means having to deal with many sensitive souls both artist's and buyers.
As a result, now very little of my time seems to be my own anymore, I seem to be caught up between the 'Devil and the Deep Blue Sea' and spend most of my time trying to arrange a marriage between the two.
Of course this is the same for any gallery and is indeed part of the fun of living this kind of life,
but sometimes, just sometimes, it all gets a bit too much to put up with.
It is on these occasions that I remind myself to
"just focus on the art"
The rest all seems to be politics and office work, just the same as any 'real' job.
So, as a result I now spend a few minutes each evening wandering around the gallery just taking to time to enjoy and appreciate the various work we have on display.
I often find myself thinking
"Wow! how did I manage to persuade this person to take a chance with us?"
I am often amazed and slightly humbled to understand and appreciate the achievement of being able to show such beautiful works.
But of course often that is only my opinion, and what does that really count for?
It seems and is obvious that everyone has there own perspective on what is "Real Art".
For example I had a woman ask me last week
"This painting, what medium is it painted in"?
It is an oil painting. I told her
"Oh! I like it but I think that with a real oil painting you should be able to see the paint raised from the surface, so you can touch it."
I was 'gobsmacked', it was a case of never mind the quality, feel the thickness of the paint.
What does it matter, that is what art is about, it is different for everyone.
So as a result, as you may have noticed in the past I go against the flow and just show the art that moves me, if I didn't do this then it would make the whole purpose of running a gallery pointless.
Although it does surprise me at times that I have an artist ask me "why do you show that"?
It would seem that even some artist's can not see beyond their own style of work.
But that is what having a gallery is all about, you try to show the best of everything,
some people like it some don't.
Myself I only have one criteria, it has to move me, if not then why show it?
In that respect I have been really lucky over the past two months, I have been really fortunate to come across the work of many different artists whose work I have found to be really well crafted plus also really moving.
Two examples being the artist's that I am showing to you.
Both very different, as people and in the mediums that they are creating from, but both really gifted,
plus both without a trace of an ego, of any kind.
They are just creating objects of unusual beauty because they have to, or what I suppose I mean is because they can't help themselves.
Both of them can give fantastic descriptions of their art and the stories behind them, but neither can explain why they need to create them
For me there never needs to be a reason other than the creation of beauty.
But, it would seem that to others there should be a very sound explanation.
Both the featured artists have attracted more comments, praise and complaints than any others we have shown.
For us as gallery owners this is as good as it can get.
Anything that can provoke people to take an interest in a work to the point that they feel that they must talk to us about it is really good, it means that people have been moved in some way.
There have been negative remarks made about their work but in honesty most of the comments have been really positive, and both the artist have received deserved sales which has really pleased me.
They were both artists that I yearned to exhibit, so on the occasion of their visits to the gallery I was tempted to run out into the storeroom and do a little dance of joy.
Of course I didn't, because as I know you understand I am a very serious person and as such would never give way to such emotions.
I was thrilled to bits to be exhibiting work by Lynne De Sade and James Evans.
Two incredible artists, plus being two lovely grounded people, both taking their work seriously yet both with great modesty.
It is a genuine pleasure to work with such people and the fact that their work arouses so many emotions in different people is an added bonus I had never anticipated.
Well, although the spirit has been willing I think that it is unlikely that I will ever find enough time to recount the rest of my little adventures that happened upon the long road of our current exhibition.
They weren't really important or exciting to anyone but me, they were just little events
that have enriched my life, so of course to me they seemed important.
But even now the memories of these are being taken over by more recent trips and happenings,
so I think it is time I moved on and tried to record some of these.
This does get a little hard because as ever I keep forgetting to take photographs,
and a blog without images does tend to be a little uninteresting.
As a child I remember my Mother once asking me what I was doing with a book [as I couldn't read]?
" I'm reading the pictures ". Wasn't that obvious to her?
In that respect I suppose my life hasn't changed, I still read pictures, or at least the stories that different
pictures tell me. They probably tell you a different story, even then it will be different to the one
that is in the mind of the artist.
Whoops! I had better stop there as this is beginning to sound very much like what I had intended the next post to be about.
So for a final time I will show a few more of the beautiful pots that have been part of our exhibition.
All so very different in style, glazes and even their function, each piece unique and all deserving of a special mention. I look at each one and can remember the conversations and the journey that brought it here to my door. For a short period of time they have all been mine, which is not the same as permanent ownership, but for now it will suffice.
I will admit that at times it does feel strange when they leave the gallery for a new home,
it feels like a possession has been taken from me.
But that is the nature of owning a gallery and it is the incentive that is needed to make me search even harder to find something that will replace such a lovely thing.
Sometimes, just sometimes I don't even have to search because the items or the artist comes to me.
This was the case with the beautiful 'Heron' bottle shown at the top of this post.
It was made by a man named Jonathan Chiswell Jones, a potter I have long been aware of but one I had only met briefly a couple of years ago.
Our exhibition had been running for just a week when I received the most lovely letter.
What was even nicer is that it was hand written, something I and many others rarely do anymore,
after all how can you use 'spellcheck' if it is written with a pen?
Anyway, Jonathan had written in response to an article that was published about the exhibition.
He explained that [although I might never realise it by looking at his pots] Isaac Button and the film
about him had been a great influence to him and was indeed why he was a country potter.
He understood why he felt I had to choose "earthy" potters as their work had a greater connection with the work of Isaac himself.
Here he was mistaken, I had chosen and approached the people who I knew or I guessed might have a connection with the old pottery. In reality I wanted as diverse a collection as could be found.
After all, how wonderful to have such different potters connected by one common bond.
From reading his letter I understood that Jonathan would have been delighted to have been invited
to exhibit alongside the other potters.
As chance would have it I met him a few days later, I explained that the exhibition was to run for another 5 weeks and although it was too late to include his name in any promotions I would really
be proud to show a little of his stunning work here in the gallery.
So it was, that he became a final piece in the jigsaw of this exhibition.
The quality of his work speaks for itself and the bonus is that despite the amount of work involved
it is very affordable, this is something that I wanted the exhibition to be about.
Pots you can afford, pots you can use, pots that if broken will only cause sadness not a financial loss.
The pots in the exhibition came in all shapes and at every different size imaginable.
From a bottle five feet tall to an espresso cup at one inch high.
They arrived or were collected over a two month period with the exception of one potter's work,
Although being the second potter to be invited [Tony Clennell being the first] he was the last to deliver work, what was worse he was the closest potter, he arrived with his pots two days before the opening.
Sometimes the best things come with waiting, and his pots really were worth waiting for.
He is a very tall man who works on a very large scale, he owns a kiln large enough for a family to live inside, but his pots for the exhibition were fired in his "small" [150 cubic feet] kiln.
They are stunning, the picture I have shown of his "bread crock" just doesn't do justice to the beautiful pot. In fact a potter from Virginia [USA], Nan Rothwell singled his pots out as being amongst the best.
The only problem was she couldn't carry them home [but she has shown him on her own blog].
This might be good for me as I am just not sure that I could live without that giant "crock".
Wow, I am getting into trouble now.
The more I think about some of the potters and their "objects of desire" the more frustrated I become.
Richard Dewar, an Englishman living in France, whose stunning sculptural teapot is shown above.
I drink from his "tea bowl cup" every day, surely I should have a tea pot to pour from.
Actually, thinking of his pots is odd just after I mentioned Nan Rothwell as they both trained together here in England at Harrow, odd but it all makes sense as have almost all of the events surrounding this exhibition. It seems that it has brought together some of the brightest stars and collectors.
Customers and potters who I might never have met except for this "show".
Potters like Fergus Stewart [below], Peter Starkey the famous salt glaze potter, Tim Hurn with his lovely drinking bottles [kostrel's], Andrew and Joanna Young with their well crafted bowls and dishes and of course the "peoples favourite" [fellow blogger] Paul Jessop.
Potters great and small!
No, that's not true. They have all been great, in their ability, their humbleness and unity.
There was no star in this exhibition, except maybe John Anderson the man who created the film that made a simple country potter an Icon and an inspiration to future potters worldwide.
The exhibition is dedicated to his memory, I for one will never forget him.
Our LEGACY exhibition has been perhaps the hardest that we have put together.
Like everything in life it has had its "highs and lows" but it has been a great experience one I will never forget, and maybe, just maybe
As more time passed since writing the last post the more I understood that there was little chance that I would write anything until after the exhibition had opened.
I had done so much travelling, visited so many potters and stayed in so many different locations that life and events were becoming a blur. I needed to record things as they happened as I knew that I would just not have enough time before the exhibition opened. Now it has, I am trying to remember different things, here are just a few of my jumbled thoughts.
I have many good memories from my travels, especially the day that started at the pottery of
Mike Dodd, followed by my first visit to the new studio of Paul Jessop which is set in such a beautiful location. Then a few miles further on to collect the pots from John Leach.
He may now have a white beard [ hhhmmmm! So have I ] but he still seems such a young man, full of life and enthusiasm. I would have liked to have stayed to talk with him longer but Richard Batterham
had told me "I will expect you early afternoon", and that was just not going to happen.
"Give Richard my love", John called as I drove out of his yard and onto the road.
Reflecting on my visit to see Richard it has me thinking that it is a shame that I can't tell of each individual visit in detail, at every pottery there was enough happening to write a chapter or two,
but, "alas" it would take too long.
I have always admired the simple but beautiful pots made by Richard Batterham, so as a result I am a little in awe of him which tends to make me a little "tongue tied" [not many people will believe that].
I should not have worried because [as on a previous visit] his natural charm and humour had me relaxed. He told me that he had given the exhibition much thought, he had decided that he felt that it was my exhibition, as such he thought that I should choose the pots that I wanted to take not what he felt that I should take.
Have you ever felt like a child in a toyshop?
So one lovely summer evening found me leaving Richard and the county of Dorset to travel on to the coast of Devon, where I was to stay in a hotel by the sea.
This was Hartland point, a beautiful location. Just a Pub set upon a cliff above the sea.
My hazy memories of that stay were listening to the local brass band playing outside as the sun sank slowly into the sea, then the following morning awaking forgetting where I was and being surprised by
what I was seeing and hearing.
Through my open window the sight of Lundy Island and the sound of the waves.
A beautiful sight on a beautiful morning, shared by only one other person, a lone fisherman who was placing a lobster pot from his small boat.
No time to tell more.
But from my lodgings on to visit another Grandson of Bernard Leach.
The potter, Philip Leach.
All I will mention of that visit is that he is the first potter for many years who has been able to entice me
with Tea Bowls. I couldn't resist them they were so simple and really reminded me of the old pots made by Shoji Hamada.
I also left him with a "F*****g" jug. This I will have to explain in the future when I have taken a photograph of it. It sold immediately the exhibition opened and it would have sold many times more.
I wanted to buy it myself.
Then there was a visit to Clive Bowen's pottery set in deep rural countryside.
I really enjoyed my visit there, he and Rosie were so very nice to me, and what was rewarding was that he was treating the exhibition with some seriousness.
"When I looked at the potters involved I knew that I would have to present my best work".
To make things easier for me they had put together a selection of around 25 pieces that they felt would be fitting for the exhibition. From this selection I was to choose 5 or 6.
So I left for home with eleven in the back of the van.
I will put pictures of different places and pots on at a different time, of course none will make sense as they will be out of sequence. Still better late than never.
While I was off travelling other pots were being delivered or sent to the gallery, it seemed that things were starting to pick up pace as the exhibition loomed ever nearer.
However there was still so much to do and other journeys to make,
and for the first time a little apprehension started to creep into my thoughts.
"What if we couldn't get everything ready in time".
These thoughts were interspersed with feelings of confidence as pot after pot was unpacked at the gallery, there were so many beautiful pieces to choose from, each one an exhibition item in its own rite.
But just how was I going to display this quantity of pots yet give each piece its own special place?
More cause for worry, but sometimes I think I enjoy having something to worry about.
I mean, just how can I solve a problem if I haven't created one to start with?
Anyway, now at last the exhibition is finally open.
Perhaps I will tell of that in a couple of days or so, but before then I will have to show more pictures
and make mention of another trip and different events along my journey towards the opening of this show. Until then here are another two pictures of Isaac Button.
The man who inspired the exhibition and who is responsible for filling my life excitement, stress,
plus also a great deal of pleasure.
Because of him I have found new friendships, without him I would never have visited the various places I have recently seen.