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.

Wednesday 30 December 2009

I have enjoyed having an "enforced" break from the gallery over the Christmas period.
I do know that I spend too much time here and that it occupies my thoughts constantly
 but it was only having a couple of days away that made me realize that
I live, think, breath, and dream
about the place every minute of each day, which I enjoy, but having a break made me understand
that it maybe doesn't make me an easy person to live with as I don't become involved enough with the normal events of family life.
So it was a pleasure to find that I have a family [and pack of dogs] who enjoyed
me [and my mind] being with them for a while,
as I enjoyed being with them.
However thoughts of the gallery and the coming year were never far from my thoughts
and I think "stepping away" for a little while has helped me focus
on what I want us to do and where we should be going in the coming year.

Trying many years ago to earn a living [supporting a family] as a potter,
and understanding the difficulty of this has left me with a lasting love of ceramics and
the craftsmen [and women] who make it.
I have always wanted us to be recognized as a "ceramics" gallery, and we will until the
day we close show ceramics in all its forms as it gives us great pleasure.
But, this past year has not been great for ceramics in terms of sales, pottery it seems has
become the art that people can live without.
This to a certain extent I can understand. For so many years potters struggled to become
recognized for the artists that they are, then with the advent of the Ceramic Fairs
this slowly changed and potters became not only acknowledged as craftsmen
but also as artists,
which has been both good and bad.
I think [only my thoughts] some people working with clay found it strange to find themselves
suddenly a celebrity and as a result acted as they felt "artists" should,
and as a result lost maybe a little bit of their own integrity, and
as a result perhaps overvalued their work, although of course like everything else the value
is determined to an extent by what the public will pay for something.

I have always felt that pots are to be used and handled daily
to fully enjoy them.
Breaking a pot should be a disappointment not a financial tragedy, but now too often I am
told by people that they own a pot by a "famous" potter and it is kept
in a case or cupboard in case it gets broken.
I can't understand this, as why own something that you can't take pleasure in
on a daily basis?
So it has been a great pleasure for me to have pots by many potters which are well
made, beautifully fired and which are meant to be used daily
and if broken is only a sad loss for an object of beauty.

So thinking about the coming year different potters and their work keep coming to mind,
they are people whose work I want to stock regardless of sales.
In May we have our exhibition of Jim Malone "Cumbrian Potter" which for me is a
dream come true, but aside from him I am determined
to show other people like Stephen Parry and Mark Griffiths, two men who are not only
very good potters but also "generous to a fault" and very nice people.
I would describe them as "gentlemen".
I know that if they ever read this they would both be embarrassed and would hate it.
They are "old fashioned" craftsmen and that's why I like them
and their work.

Pots aside, I definitely want to show more and more ceramic sculpture,
I find it so exciting to think that for a modest outlay you can own a "one of a kind"
I have a mental list of the people whose work I want to [or continue ] show.
Artists like Herman Muys, Emma Rodgers, Eve Shepherd, Fidelma Massey as well as
lesser known [in this country] people like
Harm van der Zeeuw.
So with my thoughts organised I'm looking forward to what the New Year holds for us
[in terms of ceramics that is].

Having said all of this I have just put out on display our most unlikely and unexpected
piece of ceramic art, a teapot by the artist
Tracy Emin.
Now that's not something you see everyday, and if I dropped it then it would
be a financial loss.
Just call me a hypocrite.

Thursday 24 December 2009

I have so wanted to put pictures on over the last week, the snow has been so like Christmas.
Unfortunately it hasn't been the best thing to happen in terms of sales, never the less we have enjoyed it. Little things like taking our 3 dogs [Old English Sheepdogs] out for a walk has been an extra pleasure with the knowledge that we won't be returning home with "muddy paws", has been an added bonus, also for the first time this year the garden has looked pretty.
Apart from this Long Melford has looked "a picture", the epitome of an English village at Christmas, all we needed was Santa arriving on the green and it would have been the perfect setting for a child at Christmas.
Alas, I haven't been out with the camera, it has taken so long to get here each day I haven't had the luxury of wandering around.
Of course the problem has been that it has been hard for anyone to reach us, so over the last week
a lot of sales have been concluded via the Internet and telephone.
Never the less, it has been a very enjoyable run up to Christmas and I have seen many beautiful works of art disappear, which is a strange experience, as of course I want to sell things but at the same time I love them and miss them when they have gone.
I have many little stories and things that I want to mention, but I have still not shopped for Christmas dinner, and with only an hour to go before the country shuts down I think that I had better leave them until Monday.
So with a last minute posting this is what the window looks like before I close for the day.
We have the "Angel Hares" by Karen Fawcett, which though  childish are so very well crafted
it is impossible not to love them.
The other pieces are by Louise Richardson, the larger piece in the glass case I will show in detail after Christmas, the other is a fairy like bodice made entirely from human hair.
It has sold to a local hairdresser, with very good taste I must add.

Merry Christmas to all.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

I have tried taking more pictures of the gallery at Christmas time, but without much success,
it has made me realize that I am not any good at this kind of photography
or maybe I don't like taking pictures of things that are too personal, I don't know, maybe they were just crap and I can't admit it.
This is stupid, at this rate I will be admitting that I am normal with failings like everyone else,
something that my ego wouldn't allow.
So I will show a couple of pictures that aren't too bad and which give an idea of what we are
showing, along with a picture that I adore of 'Peter Pan' which I feel that the season
allows me to show. It is a print [ yes we sell them ] by a famous artist named
Robert Gould
it is one of an edition of 50 and is about 20 years old and from what I can make out is the only
one available anywhere. I love the innocence of it, and it is one of those things that we have from time to time that " I couldn't care less " if it sold or not, it is a pleasure
to look at.
Having said that I think one of the greatest pleasures to come from having a gallery
is that every evening after I have locked the door,
[usually about two hours before I leave] I can walk around and admire all these different pieces
of art that are in my care. I can stand and stare at a painting and caress a sculpture
and have all of the pleasure that comes with owning such a piece.
Sadly none of them will ever be mine, although many times we talk about buying something
for ourselves it is always put off  "for when things are better".
I don't think such a day will exist because running a gallery is like feeding a steam engine,
you have to keep stoking the hole all the time and in our case the hole
needs money, money for all the vultures that are convinced that a small business makes
lots of money, especially when art is involved.

What does keep us going is the kindness, generosity and support of a small group of
artists and craftsmen, people like us who are trying hard to make a living 
but who believe in what we are trying to achieve and do everything to help us achieve
it, which is to show a selection of some of the most exciting, varied
and unusual art that is being produced by dedicated serious artists throughout the country.

I don't know, I seem to have got myself a little over excited there, perhaps I'm taking things too seriously, but I do strongly believe in what we are trying to do in what
after all is a rural gallery. Just because people chose to live in the countryside doesn't
mean that they don't love and desire the same works of art that are usually
found in a city.
Another thing that is really starting to help and make a difference is our
participation in the 'Own Art' scheme
which is run by the Arts Council, this is all about encouraging people who are not in a position to spend lots of money to be able to purchase art over a period of time without paying any interest charges, it is a fantastic scheme and it has been really gratifying to
hand over a piece of work to someone who had felt that such a thing was beyond their means,
but now could afford it.
getting off my "soapbox" for a minute I will just mention something about the above pictures.
Firstly there is 'Peter Pan'.
Followed by a shot of there rear of the gallery [today],
then two pictures of sculptures in the smaller windows, these are by Jan Mayle a sculptor
who has little idea of how good her work is and who always tells me
"you don't have to take them".
These are from her ' Travels With My Aunt Series ',
lastly is a Raven by Karen Fawcett, a sculptor who has had more than her fair share of problems recently, but who has thrown herself into her work to try and help
us out at this time of the year, more of her work will arrive this week and I will endeavour to show some of it as soon as I can along with some other beautiful pieces that will be arriving in the next couple of days.
For me it seems like Christmas has come early.

Saturday 12 December 2009

Hollis, the American potter who is bored enough to follow this blog has suggested that I show pictures of the gallery during the festive season, Jackie Morris the artist has also said that she thinks that it would be nice to see pictures of the Christmas window as it changes with the comings and goings of different art over this period.
This does sound like a good idea but I do hate showing pictures of the gallery.
I feel so defensive of it and the work in it, I love the space and the work in it and I feel it can only all be appreciated by a visit which of course is not possible for most people.
I have yet to take, or see photographs taken by others that show the place as it really is [or maybe how it is in my mind].
However, here are a couple of snaps plus detail pictures of a work that appears in them as the gallery looks today as Christmas approaches.
At the moment it seems rather strange as things are disappearing at a faster than normal rate and I find it a bit difficult to fill the gaps with work that looks right amongst the surrounding pieces.
I mustn't complain we spend so many days with people "just looking" that is nice to have the problem of knowing what to put on display.
The main window is always a worry as it is what is shown there that makes the decision for most people of should they come inside or not.
Our original Christmas window display was dominated by 'BEING' the magical dress with wings created by Louise Richardson, this would have sold many times over but it has gone to a good home, the lucky purchaser is someone famous who had their own reasons for buying such an unusual piece.
To replace this Jackie Morris has sent us one of her magnificent Hare drawings and much as I want to sell it I also know that I will miss it when it goes.
Still that's what "gallery life" is all about, for a short time having the pleasure of being able to enjoy art that you can't afford.

The first picture is by Cliff Wright the man responsible for the original Harry Potter
book covers, it is called
'Father Christmas ?'
Not many people can understand why, Cliff has told me that so far only one person has been
able to see the true meaning in the picture.
Isn't it obvious? 

Thursday 10 December 2009

I'm not sure if I enjoy the Christmas experience as far as the gallery goes, everything seems to be a constant state of flux as pieces go and are then replaced by something totally different.
Usually there is some sort of theme or feel to the place but at the moment that seems to have "gone out of the window" as I try to second guess the public and put out something that I think might appeal.
As an owner there are always certain pieces that I really love, to the extent that I don't care if they never sell which is a "little silly" to say the least as our existence depends upon people paying for, then walking out of the door with things that I love and admire.
There was a time when I was displaying art that my heart wasn't really involved with, this was because I knew that certain kinds of art would sell so I was catering for people who wanted to own things that I didn't like.
It must be obvious to most people that that was a "recipe for disaster", but at the time I couldn't see it, but I did recognize that it made me unhappy.
Those days are now long behind me and everything that we show now I am proud and happy to be showing, I like to feel that everything that we display has been made with integrity and skill.
It is hard to be able to show even a fraction of the different work that we have on display but here are a few examples of what I have pointed the camera at earlier today.
The first picture is the finished sculpture by Eve Shepherd that I have shown earlier before it was completed, something that I find really fascinating, to be able to hold in my hands a sculpture that I had seen being created.
The other sculpture is by Antonio Lopez Reche, a Minotaur, then for something totally different a clock by Nigel Graham, it is made from silver and gold and contains more precious stones including diamonds than I can remember.
The last sculpture is a head "RED" by Anonia Hockton, it is carved from limestone and is so lovely and simple, although the colouring may seem strange it is the same as the pigments used
by medieval masons on the work seen in cathedrals worldwide, it is no surprise that a lot of Antonia's work is seen in Churches throughout the UK.

Thursday 3 December 2009

I'm getting a little bit lapse at this blogging lark, it started with the intention of being a daily entry but then as it does, life got in the way, or more to the point writing about my day didn't allow me to have one.
Now I'm telling lies, I don't have any trouble with writing about my days but I do have a problem with recording them with pictures, what makes this harder is that because it is peoples work and art that I want to show images of I feel obligated to try and show their work in the best way I can,
this takes time as I am rarely happy with a picture because I think that the original work always looks better.
So day after day, come the evening I think "I can't do the 'blog' as I haven't any pictures.
Today I decided to go with what I have and then play 'catch up' from tomorrow.

Anyway, things here [on gallery land] have started to get a bit hectic, we have had new art arriving daily, which has been exciting it has made each day feel like Christmas day, then we had our Christmas opening last Sunday, an event I did intend to take pictures of but I seemed to spend too much time out the back wrapping things and not enough time out front talking
which I love to do, as a result I have nothing to show from that day.

Since I started writing this I have been interrupted to do a couple of sales which has really
re-enforced in my mind I must take pictures while we still have some of these lovely works,
which I must admit is a very nice feeling because after all everything here is intended to be sold but sometimes I do fall in love with something myself and when it sells I really feel a sense of loss, still maybe one day I will be able to afford something of my own.
Despite what a lot of artists think there isn't any money in running a gallery, just a lot of pleasure. 
So just a quick view of a "few" works that we have at the moment, from the top. Paul Harvey's
magnificent [very large] Red Kite, then some beautiful unusual ceramics by Claire Baker, followed by a rare early dish by John Maltby and lastly a sculpture called 'Bird Boy' that I find really moving by Antonio Lopez Reche.
Right, I'm off to walk the dogs in the dark and the rain, something none of us will enjoy, but tomorrow I will get the camera out.
I have been known to lie.

Monday 23 November 2009

Christmas Posters

This isn't what I want to write about, as I have much more interesting people to talk about and
whose art I want to show, but I have these pictures to hand so it is easier to mention what I have been doing today.
Our Christmas opening is this weekend, like all exhibitions that we have there seems to be masses to do and no time to do it, this probably has something to do with the fact that I am very
disorganised and tend to get excited about many things at once and don't have time to calm down long enough to look "under my nose" and see what must be done next.
So, our invitations have gone out, advertisements printed, new work is here with more is on its way, there are journeys to undertake, displays to arrange, etc,etc, and still I haven't done a poster.
Something that Irene pointed out to me last night, of course I argued that we had time and that I was "on the case", but in truth it had been forgotten so this afternoon I tried out a few designs and made a print of each.
I find it very hard as we show such a variety of work and it is almost impossible to have a poster or invitation that will appeal to everyone.
I suppose in truth, myself I tend to want to go towards a "corny" old fashioned look, as for me that is what Christmas is all about, nostalgia, or maybe that's just an age thing.

But going for this look then wipes out the relevance of all the fantastic very contemporary work that we have and are receiving for the Christmas show and as a result I would probably lose a lot of customers who are after something modern and very different, so I have decided on about six different
posters starting with the three I have done today.
I like them all in different ways, the first features the incredible "fantasy" dress created by Louise Richardson [one of the nicest, most down to Earth and successful artists we show], it is a little like "Cinderella meets the Angel" and is truly beautiful, I just wish that a photograph did it justice.
The second picture is of an engraving by a very clever man who died in 1971, Meyer Eberhardt.
I love his work and we always try to have at least one of his pictures on display, the one in the poster is a favourite of mine.
Another favourite is the picture in the last poster, why you might ask?
Because it's one of mine.
I don't like showing my photographs as it feels like it is all about ego, and I honestly think as far as photography goes I lost mine long ago [only with photography that is] but as this one is so "Christmas'y" I thought "why not"?
It was taken in the village of Lavenham earlier this year and reminds me of Christmas as a child, or at least in the childhood of my imagination.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

The last week has been one long blur of driving and collecting work from different artists.
It is such a shame that I had so many to visit and so little time to spend with each one, because visiting the artists at their homes, seeing their studio's and getting a small insight into their world is just about the only "perk" that I have found in this job.
I visited many people and time permitting I will get around to them all, but to start with I will mention the person who instigated the my mini-tour of England, that person is Jackie Morris.
Many people have asked where the image of the Hare at the top of the 'blog site' comes from,
well it is a slightly altered version of an original drawing by Jackie which we were lucky enough to have and then sell a few months ago.
I say lucky because Jackie has allowed us to be the only gallery that has some of her original pencil drawings on show.
As many people know Jackie is a very well known illustrator and author, and has more books to her credit than I can think to remember. Her latest 'Starlight Sailor' was published only last week [and if anyone wants a signed copy including a unique drawing with the signature, then give me a call].
Although many people don't know her name they would instantly recognize the work if they have been inside a bookshop in the last few years, as she creates the covers for the books of many
famous writers.
Well my visit to Jackie came about as she had told me "you are only getting more drawings if you come and collect them".
So I did.
It was a little bit of a literary journey as on the way I was able to visit the home and "writing shed" of my all time literary hero, Dylan Thomas.
Having visited his home, shed and grave almost 40 years ago with my girlfriend [now wife and mother to my children] I wasn't able to pass nearby without having another visit.
Sometimes things are better left as memories and this was maybe one of them.
Much as I loved seeing his home and the scenes and pub that he looked at and visited daily it was a little sad to see the village 'Laugharne' [or Milkwood as it became immortalized] changing and becoming part of the modern world, a little of the magic had vanished forever.
I will at some point [I promise] show a few of the pictures that I took of the places that hadn't changed and where a little of Milkwood lives on.

Above are paintings by Jackie and a picture of her. The very strange thing is, as I mentioned to her "you write very much like Dylan Thomas".
"It must be the Welsh air", she replied.
Maybe, who knows?
The last picture shows the inside of Dylan's "shed", complete with his last beer bottle.

Monday 9 November 2009

Mike Pestell

It has been very unsettling day
Since opening the gallery I tend to think in terms of "past life" and "real life", although I have many good memories of my past life 
[working at Saatchi & Saatchi] I also have many bad ones, most of daily life seemed to be taken up with politics, worrying about
who was "stabbing you in the back" in order to climb another rung up the ladder, with not enough time spent on the actual work we were there to produce, and it was the production of the work that I found the most rewarding and enjoyable.
So with this my "new life" I have found it strange to be involved in another world with totally different people.
Now most of the time I deal with people who have a different set of values and I often think with a sense of amazement "these are my new work mates".
Instead of playing "cut and thrust" with life's political non achievers I am dealing with artists, sculptors, potters, jewellers, photographers, etc,etc, the list goes on, but one very important person in my life has been the picture framer.
That man was Mike Pestell.
More than anyone he was the person who marked the difference between the old life and the new.
He was a funny old bugger, although not that old, he worked from home in a large shed at the bottom of his garden.
What work that shed produced [or the man in it], all of his work came with a guarantee and the quality was second to none.
He always found time for everyone, and was the champion of many an artist.
I used to speak with him most days of the week, and would put the telephone down after a chat and think "this is my new life", just worrying about how a certain picture would look and how soon I could collect it.
I am told by many people that I am a "miserable sod" who rarely smiles and never laughs, but on many dark late winter evenings in
Mike's studio I would smile, and on occasion even laughed with him as he recounted stories about the different artists he worked with.
As you must have guessed Mike has died. Not passed away, he died after suffering a long and unexplained illness.
All through his illness he would urge me to bring him work, even though in my heart I knew he wasn't well enough to frame it
but he was convinced that he could still give me a better result than anyone else I might choose to use.
He tried with all his might to promote and champion me, and I know he was secretly proud of some of my photographs that he framed, he never told me but others did.
On one of the last occasions that we met he asked me to photograph "his" Church Windows. The idea was to sell the pictures to raise funds for the Church.
Today he was buried there, I was unable to attend the funeral and although sad that I wasn't there I know he will forgive me.
You helped change my life Mike, thank you.

Friday 6 November 2009

Things are starting to get more exciting and hectic as the year draws towards its close,
the pressure is now on to get as much new and original work on display before Christmas.
I have many artists to tell you about and many to visit, but I will "try" to mention them as their work arrives or as I visit them.
Recently I have been having correspondence with an incredible sculptor who I had never heard of until a week or so ago, her name is
Eve Shepherd.
What I can't understand is that I hadn't found her before as her sculpture fits in so well with what we are all about. As it turns out she found us.
I can imagine her thoughts were very much "why haven't they been in contact with me?"
Had I known of her existence I would have been, I am searching all the time for people whose work I think will fit in with us, but they can be hard to find and at times it can be a little bit intimidating approaching
certain artists as their thoughts are only of London galleries.
Eve approached us and I am delighted to say that sometime before Christmas the first of her work shall arrive here. At the moment she is still sculpting it, which makes it even more exciting as we will be exhibiting work unseen before, so I thought that it might be interesting to show you pictures of her "work in progress", which can then be compared with the finished pieces that I will photograph when they arrive.
I will point out that the picture at the top is a finished piece, it's titled 'Alone'.

Monday 2 November 2009

One of the biggest worries of having a gallery is trying to keep fresh work on show all the time.
Finding new artists is one of the greatest pleasures of doing what we do, but having found those artists, especially the good ones it then becomes a pressure to ensure that you can replace their work when it sells and also to keep the gallery in a state of flux, so that the
regular visitors will feel that they can always find something new.
As it approaches Christmas that can start to get even harder, as for many galleries this is their best selling period so they book as many artists as they can under the "umbrella" of Christmas Exhibition. I suppose we may be a little guilty of that, but mostly for us December is just a big excuse to indulge ourselves and show a larger mixture of the work by our favourite artists without the worry of it being a major event or themed exhibition. In truth this time of the year can be a little bit more fun for us and a little less pressure.
So the last week or so has had me traveling around the country collecting different work, and spending even more time [if that is possible] talking to artists giving them a "wish" list of things that we would love to show during the run up to Christmas.
So here are a few pictures of new work as it starts to arrive.
We do have much more work but these are the latest to be unpacked, the others I will include as I get around to photographing them, many of the artists will be familiar but for us that is what the Christmas exhibition is all about.
We have got art coming from some very new [to us] artists but I will show them separately as their work arrives.
The work shown above is all ceramic, which isn't strange as we are first and foremost a ceramic gallery, but for a lot of people this is a surprise because they had never realised that ceramics comes in so many different shapes and guises.
The first piece is one of Ross Emerson's unusual clocks. I don't know where his mind is but it is definitely in the same place as mine. They are all about fantasy, imagination and are so very childlike in the most delightful way, they make you feel young just by looking at them.
There are never two the same and it is a constant source of wonder "where can he go from here?" There is no second guessing his imagination and there seems to be no end to the varied paths it follows.
The second picture is of a plate by a woman who I consider to be one of the country's best potters, Maureen Minchin. She lives in a very remote corner of Scotland and seems to be virtually unknown in ceramic circles yet her following is World wide and the demand for her work far outreaches the supply. I would be content like many galleries to stock nothing but Maureen's pots, but that would never happen.
It often makes me smile when I visit one prestigious ceramic event or another to come across many named potters who are supposedly successful knowing that they have never heard of the
Maureen, but that is what she would expect. She is the most humble, talented and generous
potter I have ever been lucky enough to deal with, she is totally unaware of her incredible ability and truly thinks of herself as "just a potter" which is is in such contrast to so many others. Her pots are modestly priced [considering the amount of work involved] and she doesn't have aspirations above living the life of a potter in the Leach/Cardew tradition, and like them she employs as many local people [there aren't many where she lives] as she
can at the pottery. She is following tradition and wants to pass on her skills to benefit others.
I can't think of many potters doing that today.
The plate shown is a very modest piece and I know she would be embarrassed for me to boast about her and show something that wasn't her very,very best.
For me every piece is her best and I think many could learn by her example.

Lastly, but not least, is a very beautiful "Don Quixote" or 'A hard Days Night" as he calls it by Paul Priest. I met he and his partner Gaynor yesterday and I was encouraged to take whatever I liked. I loved everything but in the end followed my heart and left with the 'Knight' [and other pieces], there really is something about it that touches the soul.
I love it.

Saturday 24 October 2009

I thought that instead of talking about the gallery and the work in it that it might be a good
idea to let people get an idea of what it looks like. I have often tried to take pictures inside but
they never give a true impression, I know that if I put off waiting until I have 
photographs that I am happy with it will never happen so I am showing a few pictures that I took a while back.
They were taken at the time of a group ceramic exhibition so it's a case of "name that potter".
In truth the place never looks a great deal different to this as we always have pots on show and if not pots then ceramic sculptures.
The building itself is interesting and has a mixture of styles and periods.
Like most of Long Melford [the Village the gallery is in] it is a timber framed structure
although you wouldn't know this from the outside appearance as like the majority of the other
buildings it has been covered outside with brick.
If the outside 'veneers' were removed from the buildings what you would see would be a Tudor
"chocolate box" village, but for whatever reason the structures have been covered over at different periods in time.
So from the outside we are a 'Georgian' house and on the inside we are?
Well, I'm not really sure as it's a bit of a mixture, we have three fireplaces two of which are 'inglenooks', a reclaimed brick floor, a few new oak beams and plain plaster walls, underneath which is 'wattle and daub' which can be seen through a glass panel which was put in place just
to give people an idea of the age of the building.
It's not perhaps the best setting for contemporary art, but we like it and it is the very quirkiness of the place
that made us go for it. There are times when hanging pictures that I do think
"why didn't we go for a modern plain building"?
That aside, I suppose the odd mixture does suit my equally muddled mind.
The display areas we have tried to keep as plain as possible, and where possible have created 'sand pits' to exhibit work in.
Perhaps a bit of an outdated idea but I like it and after all "it's my party".
I am constantly trying to think of different ideas for displaying work and if possible I would love somehow to include water but I still haven't figured that one out yet.
I know there are lots of things that need to be changed and in time they will be, but the most important aspect that we want to create is an environment that people feel at ease coming into as I can't stand the "look but don't touch" atmospheres that you encounter sometimes.

I always want to sell the art we display but if people are happy to come in, feel relaxed and
just enjoy and talk about the exhibits then that gives me equal pleasure.
Not so long ago an old lady came in and spent about an hour and a half looking and asking questions. Before leaving she purchased a small pot and said "I'm sorry that I didn't spend much I will come back and talk to you again when I have some money". I told her to come back whenever and as often as she liked and that it didn't matter about buying anything as I myself couldn't afford to buy the very work that I show.
I explained that although I couldn't afford anything at least I had the pleasure of admiring and caressing some of these beautiful objects on a daily basis.
"Yes", she replied.
"You are just the curator. The curator of beautiful things".
She will never understand what pleasure her words gave me, someone understood how I felt.
So if anyone wants to come, admire and just talk, the door is always open.
Even when it's freezing. 

Thursday 22 October 2009

On Wednesday I went to London to visit the 'Affordable Art Fair', this is something I have long wanted to do but each year something else crops up and I never manage to go. I must admit that the prospect of going to the City is also something that deters me, which is strange after having spent most of my life working in various parts of London. I suppose that I have become something of a 'country bumpkin'.
The chances are that I wouldn't have made the visit this year but for the fact that I had to return
some of the incredible paintings by David Shanahan and a sculpture by Beth Carter, both who were showing there on different stands.
The fair is a very prestigious event and last night the private view was even more so, I enjoyed myself "rubbing shoulders" with the rich and famous and I would have had an even better time
enjoying the free cocktails had I not been facing such a long drive home.
It was a very 'interesting' evening and I'm glad that I went.
As a gallery owner I actually get very little time to visit other galleries and it becomes hard to gauge where you stand in the scheme of things. With our own gallery all that I can see each day are the things that are wrong and that bother me, and I have yet to sit back and think "this place is good", all the time I want to change and improve not just the quality of the work but the gallery itself. I think in terms of the gallery I will never be satisfied, but last night it put in
perspective for me the quality of the art we show. When I say 'art' by that I mean paintings, photography, sculptures, ceramics and just the general mixture of work that we are lucky to have and show.
Walking around for the third time at the Fair it finally occurred to me " we are better than most people here", which sounds very egotistical, but it's not that, it was about the artist/makers
that have taken a chance with us and believe in what we are trying to do, and it is the fact that they have the belief in us which makes it all possible, so a big thank you to those that have helped and stuck with us over the years.
For the first time, today back in the gallery I have thought " I think we are going to go somewhere".
All this aside, what was the most interesting for me at the Fair was a sculptor that I came across 'Antonio Lopez Reche' who was sharing a stand with some other sculptors.
Ever since childhood I have been obsessed with mythology, on occasions art that relates to it is  shown in the gallery, in fact a couple of years ago we had an exhibition 'LEGEND' devoted to it. So it would be easy to understand why I was drawn to the work by Antonio.
What seemed strange was that I was returning one 'Minotaur' by Beth Carter only to discover
another artist working in a very similar style whose work we hope to be showing soon.
Above I have shown a few pieces of their sculpture , the top three are by Beth.
I like both there styles.
What the evening did do was to give me the determination that next year
I would be back, but this time not to look.