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 22 December 2010

I must be one of the only people in the country that hasn't put pictures of snow on there blog,
well that's just about to change.
It did seem little point putting photographs on just to announce "we have snow", as at the moment it would be hard to find somewhere that hasn't any, well in this country at least.
It is strange to have it "white" so early [or late] in the year, but it does start to make sense of all the old fashioned Christmas cards that we are used to seeing.
"A white Christmas"?
Whatever next? "Peace to all mankind", somehow I doubt it.

So much as I was "itching" to take pictures in the snow I hadn't had a chance as I have been in the gallery with the heaters on full power, looking out at the winter landscape not being part of it.
That changed at the weekend.
The snow, while looking pretty is a mixed blessing. Yes, it looks very seasonal but it has put an end to Christmas shopping as so few people have been venturing out.
It has also caused some problems for us with travelling to the galleries, both here and to Irene's in Lavenham.
Neither are far away from home but with the country roads being unusable they might as well have been 50 miles away, as we were unable to leave home in a car.
However, there has been a growing list of frames to be made that has been slowly building up and I had decided that on Sunday I would go to Lavenham and get a few done.
They had to be done as people were expecting [with pictures] them to give as presents, so I decided that I would walk to the Lavenham gallery and get them done just in case conditions got worse.
The village of Lavenham is only three miles from our home and the journey shouldn't have taken too long but I decided to "speed" things up by walking cross country rather than taking the meandering lanes.
I wish that I hadn't, but I'm glad that I did.
The journey took far too long but it was a delight.

I walked out of our gate and proceeded directly into the fields opposite.
Although I have walked the route before this time it was so different.
I walked along the old wooded path that follows the stream that passes by our house, it was lovely to walk in the virgin snow, sheltered by a roof of trees but being able to hear and occasionally see the running water.
I came to an unsheltered part of the track where the stream was in clear view. This is an important location for the family as our old dog loved to sit here and bark while Irene threw
stones into the stream, with each splash he became more excited and would bark louder.
I couldn't help but imagine him sitting there in the snow, I'm sure he would have loved it.
Dogs do like adventures.

I continued on my own, walking through the snow, hearing nothing but my own footsteps,
apart from the occasional gunshot of course.
It seems that whatever the weather there are always pheasants "just asking" to be shot.
Eventually I came to, then waded the small ford.
This was really starting to feel like an adventure, everything seemed so much more romantic and dramatic than it would normally be.
In fact it seemed that I was incapable of walking 50 metres without taking at least 5 photographs, most of which I knew would be rubbish but I couldn't help myself, we don't often have snow.
I arrived at the pine forest, unfortunately my path didn't take me through it and I really didn't have time to spare to detour, so I passed on by and crossed the empty fields, empty except for
Crows and Rooks who so fitted the isolated landscape.
I walked through a small wood which resembled 'Narnia', pausing only to look at a frozen pool,
it was strange to think that only a few months before I had been tempted to strip and bath in it
on a rare hot summer day as I sat watching a Kingfisher dart from perch to perch.
Now it looked black and foreboding against the snow covered banks.
From the wood across a beautiful wild field [beautiful in any season], then into the "tunnel".
It isn't really a tunnel, but it is a tunnel of trees that runs for about a mile.
It was once the route of the old steam railway, before the "cut backs" of a previous era.
It was strange to walk this route thinking that once in a time before modernisation and good communications all of the small villages were connected by the rail.
Now they are all isolated and older people can only travel by the "once a day bus".
That's progress.
Walking along the disused track it was easy to imagine people looking from windows of the train carriages, watching the countryside pass by, and if they were young putting heads outside to watch and smell the clouds of steam from the engines.
As a child I used to be so very frightened of the big steaming monsters as they pulled slowly into the station.
So loud dark and menacing.
I used to put my head under my mothers coat until they stopped and the "hissing"had subsided.
Now, I miss them so, but walking the track I was once again that young boy, head out of the window, sniffing the strange smell of the steam.

Now the rail track was silent, silent, sad and very beautiful.
The tunnel before me illuminated by snow, and there in the far distance the circle of light
where the woods stopped.
The wood stopped but a steep hill beckoned. In fact it didn't really beckon it's just that I had no other choice, so puffing like a train off I set.

So it was much, and many pictures later that I eventually saw the distant church tower of Lavenham in the distance.

Oh dear!
I knew things were going to get worse, after all who can resist taking pictures of Lavenham in the snow?
No one. Including a local like me. It is so very pretty and at Christmas everyone seems to make a great effort with their decorations, it really seems like a place where Christmas does really exist.

I took pictures [too many to show], and yes I even completed my picture frames and then I had the excitement of returning home in the dark.
It's strange how nothing is a pretty, or as friendly in the dark and I'm sure the woods were longer, deeper and darker than those I had walked through earlier.
At one point I knew that I had heard hoofs on the track.
Images of Dracula's stagecoach came to mind, only to be swiftly replaced with images of
'Black Riders'.
Then they appeared.
Three deer ran across the track, then another four, then another two, then more.
Fourteen in total, silhouetted against the snow, any other night I wouldn't have seen them and in my imagination they would have remained as Black Riders.
The sounds of the deer, owls, startled pheasants and the "cawing" and flapping wings of the rooks I disturbed as I walked the wooded path made it all a memorable day.

I survived my "big adventure" and here are a few pictures to prove it, none of them convey what I experienced but maybe a lot of that was in my mind.
I don't want to do it too often, but for one day in my life it was good to be young again.

Thursday 9 December 2010

As I have mentioned before artists, like all of us come in many different shapes, forms and guises, and of course with the odd sprinkle of ego now and then.
This is normal of course but as you may have realised by now there is only "one" ego that is allowed free rein in this gallery.
Yep! That's mine. [It's too large to fit this page].

So, whats this all about?

The whole pleasure of having the gallery is to show beautiful things, objects of all forms that fill that" little hole" of need that exists inside all of us.
As I have been told in the past "people don't need what you are selling".
Very true, you certainly can't eat it, or fill your car with it, but, part of you certainly needs it, and like everyone else I certainly need "a fix" of living with beautiful things.
They touch your heart.
No, they lift your heart and spirit and in these troubled times we all need something that does that from time to time.

So. back to artists.
I have always maintained and experienced that the bigger the artist, the more humble and generous the person is.
I have frequently been astonished by the generosity of "big name artists" who reply to my requests to show their work.
Many times I have had replies such as "of course you can" or "thank you for your kind words, how soon do you need it", or "when would you like it sent" "what a lovely gallery you have".
This sometimes from artists that make me feel "we are not worthy".
But instead, they have the ability make us feel special.

Then, every now and again you have an artist of some description that we have "championed"
who has gone on to have a sniff of fame. "A legend in their own mind".
Wow! They are gone.
"Can't do that now I'm very heavily committed", or "I regret that I have no new work as I sent it to the Broom Cupboard gallery in New York".
America, New York?
I suppose a village like Long Melford can't compete with that.
Well it can, but not with the inflated ego's, after all the locals are still trying to come to terms with mine.

This is starting to sound a little bitter so perhaps I had better explain.

No, named artist commits to an exhibition that they can't fulfill, or at the very least they ask for a long "lead up" time so that they have the time to put special pieces aside during the course of their normal year.
Yes, you do have a long wait but you are assured that the end result will be worth while, and that your time and money spent in promotion is not wasted.
"At the end of the day", the public decides, and as a gallery owner you can only hope that what you promise is delivered.
As they say the rest is in the "lap of the Gods".
So when I try to prepare a year in advance it is reassuring to know that artists offer to do the same and make the same commitment.
But, that is not always the case as sometimes artists who don't have a reputation to lose
don't prepare until the last few weeks and as a result submit "OK" art for their exhibition,
then wonder or blame the gallery their art doesn't sell.

So it is with these thoughts at the back of my mind that this morning I decided that I would concentrate on trying to get a few outstanding artists that I really admire to commit for future exhibitions.
By this I mean artists that I have had dialogue with but who won't commit to a date until they know that their calender is free enough to let them give proper justice and representation to their own art.
At times they are allusive, but they never let you down once they have said "yes".

As I sat at the computer preparing to write long letters detailing the advantages of showing with us I was surprised by the arrival of a mail from a sculptor that I have been pursuing for a long time.
Jan Morgan.
Result! We will be getting his work, but only when he has fulfilled current commitments.
"This is more like it, I can live with those sort of things", someone is being honest.

I don't care how long I have to wait for Jan's work, in a way the anticipation is half the pleasure.
"No", I'm lying there, having them here and seeing and touching them will be the pleasure.

The sculptures are so exciting, not only are they so well made but the also tell a story.
The display of them is everything, it is so much more than just the sculpting, there is such a clever mind behind them.

So, having been fulfilled in only a few short minutes of the day I decided to "go for broke", and approach yet again one of my favourite sculptors.
Tricia Cline.
Tricia has told me in the past that she will let 'Imagine' have some of her art, but only when she could fit it in.
I can live with that as I know we will get the work sometime and I won't be messed around with
false promises.
As I now know professional artists never promise then not deliver, and I have the work of many of them here to prove it.
They have made my job a pleasure, it's the others that are causing the ulcers.

Above are two of the sculptures by Jan Morgan followed by a couple of haunting pieces by Tricia Cline.

Hey! Did anyone suspect anywhere back there that I was annoyed, I hope not.
After all I'm professional.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Each year we hold about six different exhibitions at the gallery, some solo exhibitions and the others usually group shows set around a theme.
These I really enjoy as it gives me the opportunity to have a little "artistic" input of my own,
firstly in deciding upon a theme then secondly in choosing the various artists that I think will best bring the idea to life, it is always very satisfying [once the opening is over] to stand back and marvel at the interpretations from the various different minds.
The first planned for next year is on the theme of the 'Rime of The Ancient Mariner', this was originally planned as a solo exhibition by the sculptor John Maltby but he has since urged me to "go ahead with the idea" as a group show.
This will of course make for a more varied show, it is something I am looking forward to planning.
I will have to give much thought in a short space of time as I am thinking of sometime in May which doesn't give a lot of time for artists to think and prepare, even if it is just for the inclusion of one piece. I think that I will make this my Christmas "break" project, so when I arrive back here on 'Boxing Day' after my 24 hour holiday I will have a much clearer idea of who I would really like to be involved.
So although we are very much involved with the whole Christmas experience at the moment
[it is a little festive here just now] my thoughts are very much on the future, even to the extent that I have asked one artist to show in 2012.
Perhaps I am getting too ambitious.
So, for next year our first planned exhibition is not until the end of February which at the moment seems a long way off, although having a little break from the planning and promotion side of things will be welcome [although I do have to start designing advertisements soon].

Lindsey Carr, is the artist for our next show.
I am so pleased that I had asked her earlier this year when she first exhibited with in a joint exhibition with fellow artist Mark Rowney.
Then the connection between them was that they both painted onto wood.
I loved both there works, although then Mark was perhaps the more established of the pair I had a "gut feeling" that Lindsey was really going to "take off", so on impulse I asked if she would come back in a year and have her first solo exhibition.
She agreed, thank goodness as now one year on her work is sought after worldwide and in just a few months from saying "yes" her art was being shown in numerous exhibitions in America and Europe.
But, next February she is all mine.
I am really excited and honestly can't wait to see her new work, although I know it will only frustrate me as I will want to own so many pieces but won't be able to afford one.
Still for a short while it will all be mine.
A few days ago she sent me an image of a painting that was about 90% finished, this was so that I could use portions of it for advertisements and editorials etc.
I loved it, if having a small print of this unfinished picture was all that I would personally own, then that would be enough to keep me happy, it is beautiful.
I will say and urge that if anyone out there can afford it, then snap up one of her paintings while they are still affordable as I am certain that this girl is going to be an artist that I will one day be able to boast about [I like to boast] to people. I'm sure only to have them exclaim.
" You, had HER work "?

Another exciting event that I will look forward to is the launch of the latest Jackie Morris book,
something that is still very much ongoing at the moment. I know that Jac is working to a publishers deadline as usual which can't be the best experience in the World, but although she never seems to realise it at the time some of her best work is produced under these circumstances.
It is a book of Nursery Rhymes titled 'A Rhyme in Time' .
I know that is the title because the cover has been printed and I have a copy of it.
Jackie is obsessed by time [along with a thousand other interesting things], or more to the point the waste of time, I think she really is a person for who the days just aren't long enough,
I think to do, and create all of the things she talks of and plans would take at least one and a half life times, but I somehow have a feeling that she will do most of them.
I am aware that I do mention her fairly frequently on the blog, this is perhaps because she is so very inventive and her idea's so exciting, plus she is one of the most generous people we know.

With her obsession with time it was no great surprise to find that her new book cover was designed around a clock.
From the first time I looked at the illustrations I could only think of just how good this could be if it was turned into a real creation.
I often tell myself "You must not dabble with artists creations".
But what the hell, I know best, don't I?

For a week or so my mind was occupied with trying to image how this clock could be brought
to 'real life'. Was it possible? Who had the ability to do it?
In my mind there was only one person, Jon Mayle.
Jon, a jeweller/designer /artist, I have known since we were both very much younger.
Thinking about it, maybe 40 years, which is incredible as I don't look a day older [well let's face it, does Father Christmas age]?

Unfortunately for me Jon is one of the people who at times can be immune to my powers of persuasion [luckily his wife and sculptor Jan isn't], so I wasn't sure how he would take my request to make a "real clock".
But, I asked.
After a couple of days he came back to me, "I can do it, no problem, exactly as the pictures, but
before I start ask Jackie if she minds".

Well you know how "up themselves" and precious some artists can be?

Well, Jackie isn't one of them.
"Fantastic, when, how much will it cost, I can't wait to see it, brilliant".
Were among Jackie's many comments.
So some time in the near future I will be showing pictures of the most amazing clock.
A collaboration by two talented artists [plus me of course].

Now then, that has made something come to mind.

A while back I had thought of an exhibition titled "Collaborations", I had forgotten all about the idea until I wrote those words.

Heck! How many months are there next year?

Above are unfinished painting by Lindsey and Jackie's front and back cover paintings.

Tuesday 30 November 2010

I justify not writing each day by telling myself that "nothing has happened".
Which in the grand scheme of things it hasn't , but I suppose that in my small world a lot has, or more to the point lots of small things have happened, which I suppose is what it is all about.
We have had "new" art by artists old and new arrive here, I have visited different fairs, the new gallery is up and running now and my framing needs are now taken care of, and most importantly we have had a Christmas opening.
So I suppose that a few things have happened, it just all creeps up on me, and without my realisation a lot has happened.

Christmas is "just around the corner" and this has dictated a lot of what has happened here.
I have tried to make the gallery as interesting as possible showing a selection of work by all of our artists, plus fitting in a few new ones. It is only when trying to do this and with trying to be fare to everyone [in terms of display] that I realise how many and how varied our artists are.

In a way the Christmas show is a bit of a treat as it is a case of "anything goes" and there are no problems of seeming to favour any one artist, as a result the gallery looks really different
and to the majority of visitors really fresh, as most of them only visit for a specific exhibition and as a result never see us as we really are or have an understanding of what we are trying to achieve.
As one man told "you have some really good things this time".
Not especially, this is normal.
Wow, that sounds big headed, but I don't mean it to be, I am not one of the artists but I admit I do feel proud of their ability.

The Christmas opening couldn't have been at a worse time, most of the country was covered with snow, here in fact we had very little, actually it was only a heavy frost but I understood early in the day [especially on my way here when I passed several cars on the road that had inches of snow on them ] that it might be hard for some people to travel here.
However, the day was a great success with many old friends making the long cold journey [most of our trade is from people living 30 miles plus away] for this special day.
"Glad we came it seems like Christmas", we were told many times.
This maybe because of the scented candles but mainly because of the 'mulled wine', which was constantly brewing and even more frequently being re-filled in the large cauldron.

Most people were amazed at the variety of the different work on show, which was a bit of a surprise as the majority was from our regular artists, but as I explained most people never see us as we "really are" and they only pick up on a hint of what might be on show on a daily basis.

We did have some new artists at the opening, in fact more than a few, plus lots of new exciting pieces but as usual I have been too lazy [or unhappy with results] to get decent pictures to show, but I have taken a few and as the week progresses I will take more.

The week before the opening I visited a large ceramic fair.
It wasn't something that I had intended or wanted to do as it required six hours driving but it was a necessity as a lovely young Welsh potter [Sean Gordan] was keen for me to have his ceramics and he had promised me
"that if you come to the fair I will have a nice package for you".
Imagine that being spoken in a lovely soft welsh accent [think Richard Burton], how could I resist?
I was glad that I did visit as not only did I leave there with Sean's work but also lots of other ceramics that I wished were in my own stocking come Christmas morning.
Lots of lovely things by people like, Margaret Brampton, Gerald Davis, Nichola and Tony Theakston.
All of which I promise to show, in fact the ceramics that I left with would have made an exhibition by themselves.

But there was to be even more.
Day's before the opening I received new work from several different artist/sculptors/potters/
jewellers, plus a call from the famous sculptor Emma Rodgers asking "do you need anything from me for Christmas"?

As I sit putting this into words I do ask myself "why do I ever feel down"?
I don't know but I do at times and I think it is because I am always chasing after the impossible dream, or in reality the next artist.
My Christmas wish would be to be surrounded by all the different work that I love. This may seem like an impossible dream but I have got so close, and I do relish everything that we show.
But unfortunately I have to sell it.
Not a day passes that something that I love disappears, but I suppose that is the nature of what we do, and I suppose this it what drives me, always thinking about what might replace what has just been sold.
It's a little like living in toy land. I want everything.

For this Christmas show work has been arriving up until the last minute [or 30 minutes] before opening and I must admit I was very far behind with the preparations.
My excuse is that I knew that some work was on its way and as a result I couldn't set everything out.

The last pieces to arrive were by the sculptor/potter Jan Burridge.
She had tried to get here the day before but had to give up because of heavy snow.
Because of this I really didn't expect anything from her, but 30 minutes before the door opened she arrived with her sculptures. She stayed for only a few minutes before leaving again [in case of snow].
It was so kind and generous of her plus I was so thrilled with her work, she really is so very talented with her ability to move from pots to sculpture, I know we are going to hear a lot more about her in the future and I am so pleased to be showing her now before she becomes 'too' big.

There are other people that I want to talk about but sitting here feeling cold and then looking outside to see the snow falling I think that perhaps I had better set off home.

So above is the cover for our 'Christmas' invitation, then two sculptures by Jan Burridge
[I love her Tudor figures], a tea pot by Sean Gordan [too beautiful to use] and a local scene with the frost, which I hope will look the same come the morning but checking on the snow falling outside I think that the weather that the rest of the country is experiencing has finally arrived here in Long Melford.

So I must dash now as I have to tether those dogs to my sledge.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

It got to the stage that I had left it so long since a post that I thought "is it worth it"?
Just a few lines seems to take so long, but more importantly having decent pictures to show takes up much more time, so in the end I suppose I thought
"why bother who cares"?
I have tended to do the blog in the evenings, and taking into account the fact that I stay here in the gallery far too long in the evenings my late arrivals home have sometimes been blamed on "that blog".
Some of it true [like tonight] but not always as there always seems to be so many unfinished things and so many unattended emails left "for tomorrow" as I leave each night.
So today I really thought shall I carry on with it , or shall I let it just disappear and remove just "one"
more pressure from my life.

But thinking about it seriously I know that like everyone else I do it for my own benefit.
One day I will look back and think "this is what I was doing then , and that is what I achieved".
So for my own sake here are a few more lines.

The past week or so has flown by, nothing memorable has really happened but a lot has been achieved. I have spent a couple of days at the new gallery, firstly to finish off my carpentry and secondly to have a play with the new framing equipment.
I couldn't wait to see if I could make a frame myself.
I did, then another, and another, and another.
It was fun and gave me a sense of achievement, but I did make mistakes and they annoyed me
so it's perhaps just as well I won't be doing too many of them.
They weren't real mistakes and I doubt that anyone would ever spot them, but when on occasions I get a really well framed [not very often] painting by an artist arrive here it tends to set a standard in your mind against which other work is judged, including my own efforts.
Although, I do forgive myself, because I'm that kind of guy [unable to admit a failure].

Since the last post I suppose the one thing that I have been most aware of is the weather.
It was only just a week ago that I was talking to Maureen Minchin the potter who lives in Scotland. I told her "I really must come and see you within the next few weeks, before the winter sets in".
[I intend to write a magazine article about her to coincide with her exhibition next April,
although that sounds a long time off I know that it needs to be written now].

"Oh, no. Don't come for a while, the gales are so bad".

She told me this on a day when in the morning I had stood looking out of the windows at home thinking
"what a perfect autumn day".
Our house has an uninterrupted view over fields, forest and hills, and the trees in the garden framed the whole scene, it was beautiful especially with the clear blue sky contrasting with the golden trees and brown fields.
So hearing that storms raged only a few hundred miles away was hard to imagine,
but since then things have changed and winter has arrived and life just isn't the same with a white sky and pouring rain.
Scotland has arrived in Suffolk, that is with the exception of yesterday which was a morning of clear skies, misty fields and a little of the remaining gold.
Had I the time I would have taken countless pictures but I didn't seem to have time to pause and take even one [or two or twenty], probably because I know once I start I don't stop.
It was a shame as it was one of those 'once a year days'.

Other than that the other most striking vision I have had is the pictures that were sent to me today by Michael Parkes of his latest sculpture.
He not only paints, draws on stone but he also sculpts, and this is a three dimensional interpretation of one of his pictures [which happens to be my favourite].
'The Letter'.
I wasn't sure about it at first and my initial reaction was "it's back to front".
Then thinking about it I realised that it is his stone lithograph that is back to front, as he draws onto the printing stones which are then transposed onto paper, giving a reverse image.
I should have known this instantly as by now I am used to viewing his signature in reverse.

It has bothered me looking at them, as the more I look the more I want one here in the gallery.
Hhhhhmmmmm, I had better check with the bank.

So here we have it all above.
The perfect Suffolk day, looking at Lavenham Church [last year when I had more time].
Pictures of the new sculpture and [yet again] the picture that inspired it.
I am sorry for showing the picture yet again but I love it, and you really can't have too much of a good thing.

Saturday 6 November 2010

A mixed and hectic week, but an interesting one.
A lot of my time has been spent working as a carpenter at the new gallery, Irene couldn't afford a carpenter so she drafted me in to get lots of things finished, or nearly finished.
Each day I would think "I will be done by tomorrow and back to my real job", but no such luck it seems that there is always one more thing to do. Still I have enjoyed it as it makes a change to be doing something with my hands other than picking up the telephone.
The week really started last Sunday when I had to visit a ceramic fair in Oxford.
Even though I used to be a potter in a much earlier life [it seems like someone Else's] I don't really enjoy going to these events, many people know me and I seem to spend far too much time talking.
As an example at this event it took me one and a half hours to walk ten yards, as every time I said
"well I must get on I haven't seen anything yet" I would walk to the next stand and then it was a case of "hello, hows things? It's been a long time no see".
So it goes on, which I'm not complaining about as I was talking to lots of nice craftsmen who I
enjoy visiting and talking with when I visit them, but when you only have a day it is incredible how fast it disappears and really at these events I would much prefer to be invisible and wander
about looking at objects deciding what I liked without feeling judged by my decisions.
In reality I don't suppose for a moment that any of them remember my visit but it's just the way it makes me feel.
So, why did I go if that's how I feel?

Well ever since we opened we have stocked pots by a French woman named Loiuse Gardelle,
they are very different and evocative of the 1940/50's era, and are distinctively French
[I swear at times you can smell the garlic] and I absolutely love them.
About once a year a large crate arrives from France full of straw and pots, how they survive the journey I can't imagine but they do and we have never had a breakage.
It is strange to think that these pots from the south of France have built up a collectors base here in this little corner of England, and we have people coming in on a regular basis asking "any new Gardelle pots"?
So it was with some alarm after sending a few recently to Scotland that I discovered that we only had three left. Impossible, we never have less than twenty.
But three it was, then only one.
I tried to contact Louise but she was in Holland at a showing ceramics, I looked on the web and found the fair where she was exhibiting and the location and decided to go.
Then I found that it wasn't an easy to reach location, it wasn't too far from Arnham the place
famous in the film "A bridge too Far".
They had trouble getting there back then and it didn't seem like too much had changed over the years as far as transport was concerned so reluctantly I gave up on the idea, but then help came.

Tony Laverick
is another potter whose work we always have on show, apart from being one of the nicest and busiest potters I know of Tony also seems to be the most travelled.
How he finds time to make ceramics I will never know, if he isn't exhibiting at some prestigious
gallery then he seems to be somewhere in the world showing his work at a ceramic fair.
So of course it didn't matter how far or how many bridges to cross Tony was going to be at the fair in Holland, and he very kindly [as if he didn't have enough to do] offered to be a courier
for Louise Gardelle.
This was a few weeks ago but since then we haven't had a chance to meet up until last Sunday in
Oxford where Tony was showing his work, so this was my real purpose for making the visit there.

So on Sunday I did arrive back home with a collection of new French pots
[most of which have sold in the past week].
As an added bonus also at the Oxford fair was an artist/potter named Jennie Hale.
We are going to exhibit Jennie's art and ceramics next year so it was good to have a chance to catch up with her and discuss some of the details.
Jennie is a potter, but first and foremost she is an artist who is in love with nature.
In the early morning she is out with her dog and sketchbook and come darkness she is out again accompanied by her faithful shadow, the perfect companion when drawing newts, frogs and toads by torchlight in the woodland.
In between she is a mother, wife and somehow a potter.
Her pots are decorated with her sketches of the wild life she sees.
It is hard to understand which is more important to her, art or the pots,but I suppose the two are combined, and inseperable.
She has had a book published of her wildlife diaries.
Like her ceramics it is innocent fresh and very invigorating.

So I returned from the show with the work of three potters, and though I had only intended to talk and show the work of one, here is a little taste of them all.
I really think that it is only fair that I come back to them each in turn and show and tell more.

So above at the top [and the reason for my visit] is a bowl by Louise Gardelle.
A Puffin bowl by Jennie Hale plus a sample page from her Diary.
Last and not least a large bowl by the man who made it possible, Tony Laverick.
His beautiful porcelain bowl is not only decorated with real gold but is translucent, with a light directed into it it glows and seems to take on a life of its own.

Three different talented and very nice people.

Saturday 30 October 2010

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind".

Was a quote I read earlier today, and as a result I thought that I would say what I felt.
But on consideration decided [unusual for me] that this wasn't a good thing.
So instead I am showing just a tip of an ice cube.

Back in time.

When I had a proper job that paid "real" money I was rarely at home
[not a lot of changes there]
and had very little sleep.
For the last 10 years of employment I worked a night shift in London, which was never very easy considering that we have always lived in the remote countryside.
Most days I would arrive home at about 10.am, after breakfast [dinner] I would get to bed at
about 11.am and would have my alarm set for 2.30pm as I had to be on a train back to London
at 4.45 pm.
This didn't result in having much of a family life, or in fact any life, but it paid the bills.

Now, in the present.
I find my sleeping patterns are very in tune with nature, although they are still odd.
I awake with the sunlight whatever time of the year, or more to the point I arise with the sunlight, which at this time of the year is late but I find it hard to stir from bed until the light
comes through the window.
This doesn't mean I sleep all night, far from it.
After the first two hours or so of snoring my head off my body clock returns to its old pattern,
I am awake.
Awake at night, with nothing to dwell upon but the gallery.
And so it was last night.

It is good and bad, many problems are resolved in my mind which is good, but worse all the
things that trouble me are analysed, which is also good but doesn't lead to a sense of well being.
I think about various artists, and the way they have enriched or worsened my life.
As I mentioned the other day, I understand fully now that they are "just" people.
Some who enrich my life and others who have the capability to cause a lot of unhappiness.
These are the people I think about during the dark hours.
It is the quote by Dr Seuss that refers to those people.

I had intended to illustrate a series of incidents for you to judge, but on consideration that is unfair as it is just my own take on various events.
So, instead I will just say that it is a small hardcore of nice people [who are artists] that make
this change of life worthwhile. It certainly isn't the money, or even increased sleep
[although the pattern has changed].
It is down to people like the painter Jacki Morris [who tells people to "get lost" when they approach her privately about something we are selling], and sculptors Karen and Colin who send work whenever we need it [even when it means holding up large orders], and Nichola Theakston ["because she feels we are worth supporting"], potters like Stephen Parry and Anja Lubach who have been with us from the early days. Emma Rodgers, who is sought after by every major gallery, but who always thanks me for taking her sculptures.
It is people like these and many others whose work makes my heart sing and enrich my days and it is just the "few" that keep me awake at nights.

I have been urged many times "not to voice my thoughts, just say good things" on the blog.
But this is not an advertisement, it is a small diary of my [unusual] life.

But above is an advertisement, both for me and two of my friends.
There are a few of the beautiful yet slightly disturbing pots by Anja followed by one of Karen's latest creations, well part of it.
The whole consists of five babies and the Mother complete with mouse in beak.
She left it for me to display. But I can't.

Artists! What are they like?

Wednesday 27 October 2010

This is just a quick post as I know the rest of the week will run away with me, or the time will.
I have lots to get on with and there really just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done.
Well I know for a fact that there isn't as today I will go home with a list on my mind of the people I should have contacted, the things I should have ordered and the emails that should be replied to.
So, "how have you time to write a blog", many people will ask
[only the one's that I should have called actually, I realise nobody else cares].
"I haven't got the time to blog", but I just need to.

I have just returned from my travels 'up North', and although I don't feel refreshed I do have lots of beautiful new objects for the gallery, some of which I do hope to get photographed and onto the web site before too much time has passed.
Apart from the many hours of driving the trip was mainly memorable for having an over night stay at the Green Dragon in North Yorkshire.
It's strange how somewhere so far from home can feel so like home when I arrive.
I walked through the door at about 10.00pm to be greeted immediately by a call of
"Hello John how are you"? From Yvonne.
Followed by "Let me get you a pint, you must be tired", from Mark.
The owners of this wonderful place. I felt that I was visiting friends and I think that many other travellers feel the same when they arrive.
After a quick chat I was taken up to my rooms.
Yes, they had reserved the 'Wordsworth' [he stayed there in the past] suite for me.
So beautiful was it that after relaxing for a while I found it hard to muster the energy to re-visit the bar to join my hosts.
But it had to be done, and I was the man for the job.
After several pints and many hours talking into the night I was wondering why I ever bothered going to my rooms.
But eventually we "talked ourselves out" and bed beckoned.
I will say no more but will urge you to visit and to sleep where I slept, in beautiful surroundings, and to awake with the soft sunlight of the mist covered Dales showing through the curtain cracks.
It is little point in trying to describe the place, you must stay there, drink beside the light of the old range in the evening, and have breakfast on a table in front of the coal fire.
It really is a visit back into the English past.

I feel so lucky to have discovered this place, and even more so to be made so welcome and accepted as part of the local scene. Mark has promised to take me to some of the hidden
[almost lost] treasures of the Dales so I know that I must return again, and again, very soon.

After a wonderful breakfast [the smell of coal burning made me feel so young] by the fire I set off to collect the last of my art which was being delivered to me at a pre-arranged destination.

I do tend to be a very pessimistic/unhappy person but even I have to admit that standing in light rain in the Dales of Yorkshire as I transferred beautiful pieces of art from one vehicle to another wasn't the worst way to spend a morning.
It made me think back to what I had said to Mark the night before [ as we traded our various troubles], "there are times that I forget just how lucky I am".

There is no time to tell more, although there is a lot more to tell.
My visit to the castle [really] that Mark and Yvonne are restoring will have to wait for another
day, so I will leave you with a few memento's of my journey, the scenery, the Green Dragon, my bedroom and just a little peek of the bronze dish that I collected from Fidelma Massey.
Oh! So much to tell and so little time.

Sunday 24 October 2010

I don't think that I have ever done this before.
Writing a post immediately after an exhibition opening, in fact while it is still open.
I always intend and always forget to take photographs at the event, today was no exception,
it was only as the visitors started to dwindle that I gave thought " blimey, I have no pictures as usual", so it was only as people started to leave that I pulled out my camera.
Alas, too late as usual but I did manage to get one picture of Louise Richardson before she left for celebratory drinks with her family at a nearby pub.
I would have loved to gone with them but as there were still people coming through the door it seemed a little too premature, even for me.
Also, there was still wine here and after all someone has to drink it.
I put myself forward for the job, it had to be done.

The snaps I did manage to take were very poor and are a poor representation of the exhibition,
Louise and her work.
Still anything is better than nothing.

Besides, I am away for a couple of days now collecting work in Yorkshire, Cumbria and
Newcastle, so the chances of me writing anything for a few days are very slim.
However, I do hope to come back refreshed from a stay at the 'Green Dragon' in North Yorkshire with lots of pictures and tales to tell.
Until then here is just a little glimpse of today's exhibition opening.

'New Work by Louise Richardson'

The work on show more than made up for the poor title.

Above is a piece named 'Tattling' which was the first to sell, which is always the way when there is something that you wanted for yourself.
Then of course is Louise with her [shedded snakeskin] dress 'Charm' in the background.
Lastly is the most unusual piece we have ever shown.
'Telling Tales'
A dress made from nails, now that's not something you see on the street very often.

Thursday 21 October 2010

It has been along time since I last posted.
I never anticipated or intended to let such long gaps happen, but I think that in a way my heart went out of it a little bit.
I always get so excited about, and admire so much the work of different artists that we have here that I suppose I forget that they are "just people".
People with their own "hang ups" and different problems, and not special beings at all [although some are].
So after having been treated as an idiot recently by one particular artist it did make me question
"why do I bother telling the world about them"?

Especially, as I know that a buyer from a public funded gallery is following this blog and is approaching the different artist's mentioned one by one with an open cheque book in hand.

So it was with great disappointment I realised that one individual mistook my openness and enthusiasm for stupidity.
Maybe he is right, after all he has my money and I have the "different to promised", disappointing pieces of his work, followed by an excuse "you have to understand these are handmade".
I do understand. But, if I had asked Leonardo for the "Mona Lisa" and he sent me
"The Last Supper"
I would ask why [mind you I would still have been happy]? No doubt he would have told me "you have to understand these are hand painted".

Oh Yeah! That's why I got something totally different.

So why did I pay?
Because I said I would, and at least one of us kept their promise.

This little experience left me feeling disillusioned.
I mention it only because of the hurt I felt, and this is the reason that I haven't written.

Since then so many good things have happened and I have been involved with so many nice artists that I shouldn't give it another thought, but it just illustrates to me that one negative
event overtakes so many positive one's.

Nice people, nice events?
Well now I know I haven't enough time to write about them, but I will as I become increasingly excited about them.
But, I must mention that I discovered a new [to me] sculptor last night, named Olivia Ferriere.
I spoke with her today and she has promised work in a couple of weeks.
I will show her work when it arrives. I am tempted to now but I will put it off, it will give me something to look forward to.
I have also just today had an arrival of some beautiful, sublime ceramics.
Showing those will also be a pleasure in a day or so, or as soon as I get the camera on them.
Anja Lubach is the potters name and the work is almost as romantic as the name.
Maybe tomorrow, lets see.

Most importantly Louise Richardson the artist/sculptor arrived with her different art which is for her exhibition opening here this weekend.
I shouldn't be surprised, but I still am, by the variety and complexity of what she produces,
everything is really from the imagination, and is so magical and different it is an absolute delight to look at.
Today, after hanging one of her works I thought "that's not bad".
Then caught myself and thought "no, that's bloody incredible, how have I got it here"?Her work REALLY is different to anything that you have seen before, and what is more amazing is that it is created by a woman who is bringing up a young family.
What is so lovely is that the family comes first and they are the most important thing in her life.
How lovely it is to speak to such a talented person while in the background there are dogs barking and children calling out for attention.
I am in awe to think just how "big" she will become when eventually her time is all her own,
having said that, she has a tremendous following already.
I do hope next year to have her and her equally talented husband Andy involved in our
'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' exhibition.
Still I had better concentrate on this exhibition first otherwise they will both disappear to one of the other queuing galleries.
Still, for this weekend Louise Richardson is all mine.
Well, and yours if you care to come.

She arrived yesterday with her work, I should have helped carry it inside as it was all large, but as she placed down each piece in front of me I became so immersed that it was only when the next was put in front of me that I came out of my trance, only to go into another.
Her work is really just so different and breathtaking that I would love to own a piece but I doubt that day will happen soon, so until then I will have to make do with the great pleasure of showing it.
I know [it is happening] that she is going on to great things and will be shown in many varied and highly prestigious venues [and publications] so this may be the last chance to purchase at
affordable [not cheap, but affordable] prices.
The phrase "antiques of the future" is so bandied about that you become immune to it,
but just watch where this girl goes to.

So obviously above are a few of her works, the other odd picture is one of mine.
While I was going through my period of disillusionment I thought about where I could be and what I could be doing instead, my thoughts turned to Ireland, so I went looking through some pictures taken this time last year, and I wished for a while I was back there.
But now I'm back here, and happy to be so.

Monday 11 October 2010

Just in case any one has wondered "where's he gone" this is the result of my last weeks work.
Although Irene has long given up on me ever getting around to starting any decoration at home
she decided to get enlist me as the builder decorator at her new place 'Imagine Lavenham'.
Although I was annoyed as I felt I didn't have the time to spare it turned into a week that I enjoyed, it was a total distraction to the normal day.
Although there is a telephone, there wasn't a person who knew of the number [except my boss]
and there was no computer or Internet to be distracted or absorbed by.
It was a strange week, I really enjoyed doing something different and found much to my amazement even though I was busy until late at night my mind seemed to have more time than ever to "drift and wander" and as a result I think that I have resolved many things that have been troubling me for some time.
But I did miss being here at the gallery, on my brief visits back here I was really surprised how much I liked it and how nice everything looked.
On a daily basis it his hard to be objective, you can only see what troubles you.

Anyway, the new place is far from finished and at the moment there are many artworks that have just been put in place and that are borrowed from Imagine, but they had to go there just to get a sense of perspective and scale of what would work and what wouldn't.
It is a very small building downstairs but the total space would make a good gallery, but Irene is reserving the top floor for something else.
I don't like to be a tease but I will show pictures of this at the end of the week once work has progressed and it looks more presentable.
I must admit I finished work there last night with a little regret, it was starting to feel a little like home to me, still that will soon change as my wife is determined to put her "stamp" on this project and not mine.

The pictures I am showing were taken on Friday evening when there was still [and there still is]
much to do. There is still much decoration to be done, cupboards and displays to be built, pictures have to be hung and new exhibits put on display etc, etc.
In fact even a sign to be hung.
It will all happen in time.
For the moment it just feels nice to me just to be back to the "day job".

Friday 1 October 2010

Some of the new work that I had been anticipating has started to arrive.
Every time a new delivery arrives I get excited, with the anticipation of what I might open next it really is like Christmas.
In fact Christmas came early for me in the shape of the sculptor Paul Harvey.
Paul, and his beautiful wife arrived at the gallery earlier this week, laden down with gifts,
or to be more precise his wonderful wildlife sculptures.
I have always thought of Paul as being 'Peter Pan' rather than Father Christmas as he is one of those very lucky people who doesn't seem to age.
When he arrived his age was of no importance, I had been looking forward to the arrival of his sculptures for some time, I just knew they would be good.
He has such an eye for both fine art and wild life, this mixed with his love of 'Art Deco'
results in some amazing work. It is loved by myself and the public alike, there is a quality about it that is hard to define, almost a moment of silence or stillness.
Whatever it is I love it and this week he "did us proud" bringing some stunning pieces with him. As soon as I get a chance I will take pictures, I must, as I promised him, also I would like to have a record of them after they have gone as I know they will disappear very quickly.

Apart from the excitement of Paul's visit I had other things on my mind.
Louise Richardson gave me a call asking me to confirm the date of her solo exhibition.
It's a good thing that she did as I have had so many things going on plus the impending opening of Irene's place on my mind I was really behind on with lots of things.
It didn't take long to "get back on track" once Louise sent me pictures of her new work.

Well, actually it did, as I loved so much of what she sent me I have spent at least two days dithering about what pictures I should use for her invitation.
Everything was so unusual [as usual].
This shouldn't have surprised me with Louise as I know her mind is so inventive, but surprise me it did, as I am sure it will many others when they see her creations.

I would just love to have a peak inside her mind.
Whatever she does is so very different, unusual and totally unique, everything that she does is like a page from a fairy book, you just don't know what to expect next.
I am giving a little sneak preview above, showing pictures of her dresses created from different discarded objects.
Bones washed up on a seashore, snake skins that have been shed.
Everything she uses either found by her or donated by people who think
"Louise could use that for something".
She has an enormous following of people who can't wait to see what she makes next.
Including me, but at least I'm the lucky person who will be showing it all.

Other things that have arrived are ceramic pieces by the potter Paul Young .
I have known Paul and shown his pottery for some time but it is only in the past few weeks that I have been looking at his sculptural work .
I must have been blind for so long, I know find it a delight, very naive, innocent and beautifully
crafted, there is something very English about it, perhaps it is this that helps it to find its way into museums worldwide. Paul's own account of how he was discovered and taken to New York
is really worth reading. His "fifteen minutes of fame" is I think how he described it.
A man whose workshop is an old rural rail station finding himself a celebrity in America.
How did this happen to a country potter?

I have crammed and compressed too many events into too small a post, but at the moment I don't seem to have enough hours in the day or days in the week, so everything written is a much watered down version of what has been going on but I thought it best to show something rather than nothing.
Or as the saying goes "treat them mean and keep them keen".
I can't say I believe in it but until I have a little more time this will have to do.