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.