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.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Postcards from Paris

"Bonjour mes amis".
Sorry about that, it seems that I just can't stop slipping into different languages nowadays.
Yes it's me!
The multi lingual world travelling gallery owner back from a day trip to Paris.
Actually, it was two days so I think that means I may now be classed as a resident.
I wish I was.
As Irene told me on my return "you need to get out more".
Here is a little about my adventures in France.

Leaving home at 3.00am in the morning did make me wonder if this was a good idea
 I started to question "do I need to be doing this"?
Since I stopped working in London my time of rising has got later and later, and why not?
This is my life, I am no longer owned by someone else and I will confess
I have taken advantage of getting up a little later in the morning.
As I climbed out of the car in the dark and with light snow falling at the Eurostar terminal
I did wonder if maybe I should have stayed in bed.

Mais Non!

My little Paris trip has been one of the most enjoyable things that I have done for a long time.
I had planned to meet a couple of artists and maybe take a few photographs.
I did both and a lot more.

Meeting me on my arrival at the 'Gare du Nord' station was the sculptor
Elisabeth Dupin-Sjostedt.
To my surprise we both recognised each other
[However I had warned her to look for an old man who looked lost]
maybe that helped a little.
Anyway, after lots of cheek kissing [she stopped me after 14] we left the station to have a coffee.
I'm pleased to say it wasn't at Starbucks, etc, etc, etc.
No, instead it was a little restaurant where believe it or not they only spoke French.
As luck would have it Elisabeth was able to order without my help.

I must confess that it seems really strange meeting someone for the first time but feeling that you
are already old friends, it is something that I now accept as normal and it is an experience
that I really recommend.
It is strange but good, especially when the artist is a nice as you had anticipated.

Over two very protracted espresso's [we had to order another or we would have been evicted]
I was able to see much of Elisabeth's new work as she had the foresight to
load images of her sculptures onto her 'ipad'.

We discussed her exhibition planned for later this year, then she asked an awful question
"which pieces would you like to exhibit"?
My answer was "everything".
It really was impossible to make a choice as it was like viewing the art of several sculptors
as she chooses to work in many different styles
Some sculptures wall mounted some free standing, and all so very different and beautiful.

Unfortunately, I did not have the time to visit her studio but she told me of a gallery in Paris
that was showing some of her art, I promised that I would find time to go there.

Together we left the cafe for the Metro
[that's the underground for those of you who aren't world travellers like me].
I was stumped I didn't now how to purchase a ticket.
Luckily my new best friend was here to hold my hand and show me what to do.
[I swear I heard her mutter "what an English idiot"].

So after another "snogging session" [I like those French 'Hello's and Goodbye's]
I set off alone across Paris.

Somehow I made it across Paris to the Eiffel Tower where my hotel was situated.
Of course before 'checking in' I had to have a wander to see this World famous Landmark.
It was pouring with rain and my first sight was of a tower in the mist.
The good thing was that I seemed to be the only visitor who had ventured out to sight see.
Even in the cold rain it was an imposing sight and one I won't forget.

So, off to the hotel, freshen up, then on with my visits.

Leaving the hotel just one hour later I was amazed to find that the weather had completely changed.
Walking 200 hundred metres and turning a corner I then had my second sighting
of the tower.
What a difference and what a contrast.
I admit I like it in the rain and in the sun, but at least the sun enabled me to do the tourist bit
and take lots of snaps.
To be honest what photograph can you take of the Eiffel Tower that you have not seen before?
For me the difference was "these are my snapshots"
So here are a few.

Walking under the Tower I then walked over the bridge crossing the Seine.
I confess, most of the time I was looking back at the Tower.
Until I spotted this beautiful crow,
I don't think that the monument would have looked as good without it, and it certainly beats pigeons.
Across the River and then a walk along the embankment before heading further into the city to meet
with another new [only because we had not met before] friend.
Agnes Boulloche.

Arriving at the gates to a private road I tapped in the pass code and entered a very old street
with beautiful buildings on each side.
I proceeded until I arrived at the oldest house.
It sounds a stupid thing to say but it was typically French, and steeped in history as I was to learn.

Agnes is everything I expected and so much more.
When she greeted me I really did feel that I was meeting a very dear friend.

"get that coat off, sit down, here's a bottle of wine, would you like sausage"?
Within minutes we were talking [in English but it felt like French to me]
laughing and drinking together.
I was made to feel very welcome, and this was not something she tried to do, it is her.

Of course we had a conversation about her intriguing art and how and where she works.
"I can't live without it, I must paint every single day, wherever I am".
Could mean Paris, La Rochelle or Africa.
Hey, this woman travels even more than me
[but I bet she's not been to The Green Dragon in Yorkshire].

Talking of her art occupied only a little of our time
I think that we must have talked of every topic there is, and I am sure that I must have told her my life story at least twice
[I had to do that to make it more interesting].
It was a very fun visit with lots of laughter and absolutely no pressure.
We were friends from the first greeting [kisses again, I do hope this catches on elsewhere].

We arranged a date and details for her exhibition at our gallery.
"I am very organised" she told me as she marked dates in her book
[I hope this catches on elsewhere]
Even numbers of paintings, finishing dates, sending dates and her arrival date, all sorted.

To my delight, before I left she packed two paintings for me to return home with.
They had to be smaller pieces as I had to walk around Paris
Then travel by train home with them
[they are still intact and are now here in the gallery].

After much laughter I eventually left before it was totally dark.
My last vision of Agnes is of her standing in the doorway waving frantically to her new friend.

In the fast growing darkness I walked as quickly as I could for fear of getting lost.
Trying to retrace my path, left, second right........
Then I found the river.
Someone had switched the lights on the Tower to guide me back to the Hotel.
What a kind thought.

To be continued...............


  1. Love reading of your adventures and seeing the lovely art you manage to find, and of course Paris.

    1. Hello Penny
      I'm sorry it didn't all read as exciting as it felt to me, but I confess that I did have a really good time.
      It was the little things and the people that made it so memorable, plus of course the city.
      Part 2 is to follow soon before I forget what happened.

  2. Oh my goodness John, what a delightful trip to Paris, full of the "je ne c'est quois" that makes every French speaking person I have ever met so devastatingly alluring!

    1. I know what you mean Mo.
      It is the difference that makes the difference, and I did meet some lovely people.
      The fact that they all had these lovely accents did make the alluring. The men and the women.

      The trouble is, their understanding of the English language was better than mine, and certainly their accents were a lot nicer.
      I am just hoping that they took to this idiot Englishman.