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.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Every five or six years we are fortunate enough to be able to hold an exhibition of ceramics by
Maureen Minchin

Although we still have a few months before our next occasion I thought that maybe
I should make a small mention of it now as we have already started to receive calls and emails
from different collectors
They have all wanted to confirm the date of the opening as they intend to book a local hotel
for the weekend.

This is not exactly normal for an exhibition but nothing to do with Maureen ever is.
The last time we exhibited her work there was a queue formed outside the gallery when I arrived
some three hours before the opening.
Her ceramics have always been highly collected but now she is featured in London Auctions
it seems her ceramics have been discovered much further afield than Suffolk.
We often have calls from different countries, with people asking when we might have more in stock.
The answer is always the same
"We don't know, five years maybe".

 Although she was originally a potter from Suffolk, long ago she left us
And now lives in a very remote part of Scotland.

At the beautiful location where she now lives there are few houses and even fewer people,
But she has become very involved and an important part of the scattered community.

She once told me that the potters that she respected were Michael Cardew and Bernard Leach.
Mostly because of the way they had lived their lives and what they had contributed
to the their own communities, providing jobs for local people at locations which [then]
had little to offer in terms of employment.

On my last visit Maureen had some local people "helping".
Not that I think she needs any ones help, she is a miniature dynamo, working constantly.
I think she had their help for other reasons, I felt that she was helping.

Nature, is her inspiration and I think that needs no explanation
But it is the labour intensive detail of her work that I have trouble coming to terms with.
Each terracotta pot she creates is dipped into "slip" [thin white clay]
then decorated with a needle,
or as some potters describe it "scratched" so that the red clay is revealed to form the image.
Most potters working in this fashion will tell you
"it takes a lot of time".

I have never heard Maureen make such a comment, it is just what she does.
Her pots are not priced upon the hours of labour, they are priced as vessels for use,
just made in her way and her style.
I have questioned her on the wisdom of spending hours decorating a mug,
egg cup or a small cream jug.
"Surely you would be better spending that same time working on a large piece 
that will command a higher price"?

It made sense to me.

She explained something that I understand and can relate to very well.
" some people haven't a lot of money but they would still like to have one of my pots,
so they are made with them in mind".

How many artists would do such a thing?
I can assure you that a simple mug by Maureen is a thing of beauty and is the result of many hours
of labour.
These pieces are as important to her as the "statement" works that appear at auctions.

So, perhaps you understand why I am a fan myself.
Not only is the work different and outstanding,
but also the artist.

I know that she would be embarrassed to hear me say such a thing, she isn't striving for recognition
of any kind, she is just doing what she loves.
That love is evident in her work.

Her art is constantly evolving and improves in the most subtle of ways,
But really the only things that have changed over the years are the animals that she portrays.

I know that she will use the excuse of exhibiting with us to sneak some Hares back into her work.
"You must have some Suffolk Hares", she told me in the past.

She lives in an idyllic location but in a very humble way.
Whenever I speak with her I close my eyes and ask "how is the weather"?
[Trying to visualise her her location]
Sometimes [at odd times of the year] really hot
but on other occasions I will be told that the tiles are lifting off the roof and the wind is terrible.

That I can easily imagine.
Although she is situated just 100 metres from an idyllic beach with views out to the distant islands
there is nothing to stop the winds from the Atlantic
[well you could say that America blocks some of it but that is a "wee" way off].

The last time I visited it was after a long journey through snow covered mountains and it was a surprise
to arrive on a winter's day which seemed like summer on her small peninsula.
But still the sense of remoteness was very evident.

Of course she is never "cut off" from civilisation because just along the road
is the means to contact the world [if you have enough coins].

I can imagine conversations like
"Maureen your breaking up, is there a storm"?
"No, I just put in my last 10p and it's running out....beep....beeep".

"Hello, hello"

So just to confirm for those who keep asking.

Maureen and her ceramics will be here with us for the private view that opens on

Sunday August 23

Unless there is a storm from the Atlantic.


  1. oh my goodness, I need a lend of the Tardis to get there for this show, Maureen 's work is magic!

    1. Hello Mo

      You don't think that is a telephone box in the photograph, do you?
      That is an updated [all mod cons] version of the Tardis, I use it to visit Maureen.
      I will send it down to you closer the date.

    2. Thank you John, I hope The Tardis is still a bit wobbly with all those mod cons!

  2. very beautiful art work...
    John, c'est toujours un plaisir de vous lire.

    1. It makes me happy that you bother to read.