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, 24 January 2015

The Next Day

There was one place that I wanted to visit before my day was over, that was ODETTE.
Basically it is a touristy cake shop, and although I am not that bothered about cakes I was inspired to visit by a photograph I had seen on another blog.
The photograph said "Paris in a Nutshell", so I had to see it for myself.
So daybreak found me sitting in a map strewn bed trying to navigate the best route there.
I was pleased to find that it was not too far from the gallery that I intended to visit
Where the sculptures by Elisabeth were on display.
After my new found confidence of walking the streets of Paris the day before I decided to do the same
again, after all it only looked like a 40 minute stroll.
So it was settled, no Metro just walk and absorb the city for an hour.

Time keeping and navigation have never been my Strong points, I hasten to add.
Anyone could have told me that it was better to go by underground, but unfortunately I had nobody
around who would tell me what to do.
Even if I had I wouldn't have listened to them, because I know best.

So with bag, camera and umbrella I set of on my grand tour of Paris.
I say grand tour because that is what it became.

I kept telling myself
"Keep the Eiffel Tower to my left then walk straight on and take every right hand turning towards the river".
How hard was that a child could do it.

It was easy, easy and fun although I did have to keep stopping to take snaps of the most uninteresting things, but I just wanted to capture a little of the ordinary side of the city, the places that were simple
yet reminded me that I was in France.

I ignored every Metro station that I came to.
The metro might be easy but this was more fun, plus it wasn't going to take me very much longer.
In fact I worked it out that by the time I had changed trains walking would be quicker.
Although I was getting a bit wet and my bag was getting heavier.

Ok, I admit it.
After two hours I was lost, my sheet of paper containing all of the street names that I should have
passed along the route
might as well have been written in French, I didn't know where I was, but it was still fun
and I did have a whole day.
Let's face it how long can you be lost for?
I would soon find the river.

One hour later.
"Excusez-moi, parlez-vous anglais", I asked a passer by.
"Oui, un peu.
[always the same answer, even if they are fluent, which they all are]
"Ou est ici, je suis perdu", I would say pointing at my map.
[of course you are you silly bugger, your from England. I could see them thinking].
But every time they always helped.
But I only went on to get lost again.
But it was a "good lost" and was the reason why I found many galleries and unusual art that otherwise I may have never seen.

The two sculptures above are a fantastic example.
[of course since returning home I have been speaking with the artist].
So really I was lost with a good cause, perhaps it was meant to be.

But bloody hell, that bag was getting heavy, so I discarded the brolly and ventured onwards.

After four hours I did eventually find the gallery I was searching for.
The sculptures were even better than I had anticipated and the owner was really nice,
She was very open and recommended different sculptors to me and let me browse her vast collection of limited edition prints.
She asked how trade was in England? She explained that it was a little slow in Paris at the moment, it was easy to understand as the gallery was situated in a very affluent area, an area which seemed to be the hub for art galleries, and of course being in such a location would come at a high price and would demand a high volume of sales.
I knew where she was coming from.

Before I left she directed me towards the river.
"From there if you turn left you will eventually come to Notre-Dame and opposite you will find ODETTE".
At last I wasn't lost, so instead of continuing I decided to "backtrack" a little bit and look at some galleries and unusual shops that I had passed along the way.

It goes without saying that within 30 minutes I was lost again but not before seeing some beautiful art.
The most memorable was at the gallery of the famous photographer
Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Many of his photographs were stunning but for me the very best were his 'Horses'
They really have to be seen to be believed, and the prices were affordable.
I came away with a signed book which has given me hours of pleasure ever since.

I was pleased to find that most of the galleries that I visited were not as good as my own
[in my own humble opinion of course]
But I did find one which although it was a "grotty" building it did exhibit some incredible  work.
I left very envious.

Somehow my day was nearly over, I had achieved nothing but had seen a lot that I enjoyed.
But I was still determined to find that elusive cake shop.
So with many more "Ou est ici" I found the Seine and turned left.
Walking as fast as I could.
The light was fading, plus I was aware that there was a train home to catch.

Then I came to 'Shakespeare And Company' the famous bookshop, beside it was a small lane.
Squashed in between other buildings was ODETTE.
It looked nothing, yet everything. I took one quick snap then turned around to go.
I hadn't noticed that. It was Notre-Damn.
I stood for a few minutes in amazement then decided I had better find a Metro station fast.
This time I would use it.

Typical, you can never find a station when you need one.
But I did eventually and it was one of the old beautiful Art-Nouveau stations, unfortunately it was 
pouring with rain and now dark so I couldn't even take a snap, but next time.

Three hours later I awoke on the Eurostar just in time to catch the end of 'GoldenEye'
The man I was sitting squashed against was a James Bond fan and it seems that he was determined
to share the film with me on his laptop.
So rather than sit and replay the days events in my mind I closed my eyes.
Good thing he had headphones on because rumour has it that I snore, even when sitting asleep.

It seemed strange to climb of the train in Kent, but I was back home.
It was snowing again and my bag was definitely heavier but my head was full of images and idea's.

It wasn't meant to be a holiday break but it had felt like it.
As Irene told me
"You need to get out more".

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...............

Saturday, 3 January 2015

A New Year

A New Year?
It has been so long since I have written anything I was beginning to think it might be another year before I found the motivation to do another post.
I have wanted to many times but I just felt that I had nothing to say worth reading.
Life has just been continuing in a way that is normal [for me]
and I have just felt "who wants to read about this"?
But I suppose that a lot has been going on and perhaps I should have mentioned different things.
I certainly know that the blogs that I enjoy reading are just about peoples daily life.
A life that you think by reading you are a part of.
So, at last here is a little "catch up" on a little of my life and what has happened.

Of course we have had that small event called Christmas that has happened.
I am never prepared for it in the gallery or at home.
But certainly in the gallery there were lots of changes and new additions
so here are a few of them, even though most of them have now left us for new homes

We have had new sculptures from Sue Claire, my favourite being the life size 'Cheetah'.
This was the first sculpture of hers that I fell in love with
but it has taken time and a lot of persuasion to get her to part with it

But at last at the start of December she called and asked
"would you still like to have the Cheetah as now I am prepared to part with it".
Days later it was on display
Days later it had gone.
It really is beautiful and with such a sad expressive face, I am only showing the face because
it captivated so many people, including myself.

Then I had them delivery of many new paintings by
Rob Van Hoek.
He occasionally sends me pictures of his new works, for no reason other than for my comments.
Two recent paintings I became obsessed with so I asked 
"could I have them"?
Unfortunately they were destined for an exhibition.
Even more unfortunately for the gallery involved Rob sent them to me instead.

His art has had a fantastic response, and needless to say his gamble with us was well founded.
Of course I would say that wouldn't I.
But its true.

To my very great delight and pleasure we also had a delivery of ceramics from one of my greatest
ceramic heroines Louise Gardelle.
Here is a small sample of those we received.

Although I can honestly say we have never had a bad pot from her, these are perhaps the best
we have ever had.
The quality of the glazing and decoration is wonderful.

Like many times before I put aside those that I intended to keep for myself.
Then as usual I decided that I couldn't justify that as we are supposed to exhibit the best,
So I did.
Bugger me, guess what?
Those I wanted to keep, they all sold

Still we still have many others remaining, and the one thing that I have learnt is that we all like different things.
And sometimes, just sometimes, I am not always right about what is the best
[that hurt me to admit that].

We also had the most wonderful sculpture by my friend Rachel.
This really tortured me as I was determined to have it for myself, I loved it so much.
Fortunately I was saved as it was purchased by another good friend.
So the dilemma was taken away from me.
She has promised to send a replacement
[so my torture can start again]

So now I am giving thought and planning for the coming year
Of course very much on my mind is the exhibition by the photographer Asher Svidensky
with the sculptor Sandra Courlivant
'The Eagle Hunter'

But my thoughts and plans go far beyond and before this as I have so many ideas
that are still in the planning and thought stage
[many get stuck there]
A couple of exhibitions [one 5 years in the planning] are confirmed
These I will talk of as the year progresses, meanwhile there are those that are still in my mind.

I hope that these will move a step closer when I visit Paris next week.

They involve an artist and a sculptor
Both French
[that's why they are in Paris]
Agnes Boulloche and Elisabeth Dupin-Sjostedt.

With luck I will tell more of that after my trip to France, which I confess I am a little nervous about
I don't think my "mange tout et petit pois"
understanding of the language will get me very far, but of course I can always throw in the occasional
That should wow them and convince them that I am a true native
[or an idiot who can't speak any French].

It goes without saying
that also in the coming year I hope and desire to be showing more art by my very best
French friend
Anne Bachelier.
Her paintings and drawings are like a drug that I can't give up.
So, Anne please feed my "habit".

Anne has been a little unwell recently, but yesterday she sent me some photographs
which must mean that she is feeling better.
The photographs were taken from her garden at Christmas.

That is what you call a Chritmas Photograph.

Meanwhile at the same time here in Long Melford, this is a photograph of our December landscape.
It features the bridge behind the gallery which leads to the land of many adventures.
At least that is what our dogs regard it as
To them I think it is the bridge to "neverland".

The most amazing thing, is that not only is it December but on the other side of the stream that is a barley field
What is happening?
Leaves on trees and barley in December!
Unreal but true.
It looks like July and is not very festive.
But at least it is cold.

It all makes me think that this is going to be a very different year,
good but different.

I hope that the readers of this blog have a really good year.
Remember, the best times are still to happen.