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.

Thursday 21 January 2010

I really hate to leave it so long before writing especially when I had vowed that I would make an entry every day, but life has a way of taking you in different directions when you least expect it and that is what happened.
For a long while I have had planned a trip to Cumbria to visit, photograph and interview the potter Jim Malone. This is for an article that is to be published in May , which is fantastic as we have a long planned [3 years] exhibition of his work scheduled to open on the last day of that month.
The interview was to have taken place in December but because we were too busy I was unable to take the time away from the gallery so it was put off until the first week in January, then of course we had the snow and travel was out of the question,  so we agreed to wait for a break in the weather
Last Saturday things improved and I thought "I had better do it soon before it changes again",
and as these thoughts hovered around my mind Jim called.
" The roads are clear, can you come before it changes".
Hey! This was my hero speaking to me.
That was it, quick plans were made, Rebecca my beautiful daughter took over the reins at the gallery and I was off on adventures.

I stopped over night on route at 'The Green Dragon' in north Yorkshire, a pub made famous by the waterfall at the rear called 'Hardraw Falls'.
A naked Kevin Costner washed himself beneath it in the film
'Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves''.
Mark the owner became a friend a few years ago when he called in to buy one of my photographs [something that guaranty's friendship for life].
I will have to devote an entire entry to The Green Dragon very soon, it is unlike any other public house in the country and Mark an artist and collector has fantastic things planned for his newly  built gallery, we are planning something together for next year, but more of that at a later date.
I will say that the event "The Gathering" that he holds each year is one of the things that you MUST visit before you pass on from this world.

I digress a little bit.
Jim as many people will know is perhaps [in my opinion definitely] the best and most famous living potter in England, he has work in every major museum and the British Museum
even has interviews with him held in their archives.
He is a man whose work I have collected for the past 30 years and who has become something of a hero to me and many others
 so you can imagine how I must have felt going and staying with him for a while.

 There are just so many stories that I have to recount I don't know where to begin.
In fact I will wait until I have written the article about him before I decide what to tell you, and then I will pass on the pieces that could never be published.
However, it was so strange to be sitting drinking wine [nine bottles] with this most successful potter and hearing of his very humble beginnings.
Living in an remote old miners cottage at the Horseshoe Pass in the  mountains of Wales, a cottage that had only two rooms, unable to afford fuel, wrapped in blankets to keep warm and many times going without food, with a wife and young daughter.
All the time believing that one day his pots would sell and that he would provide for them.
Of course, this did happen but the periods of walking with a pram from door to door asking
"would you like to buy some pots", and the memories of the galleries that rejected his work is something that has stayed with him and made its mark on his character.
To call Jim determined would be "the Mother" of all understatements.
Failure is not a word he understands.

So we have him, Englands greatest most collectible potter sitting at a table in his Cumbrian cottage drinking wine with me and saying
"I have thought of you many times over the years".
He recounts the day 30 years ago [yes I am that old] when I pushed through the crowds at his first London exhibition and told him that his work had given me so much pleasure and that I ate from a plate he had made every day and couldn't wait to finish my
 meal so that I could see the beauty of that plate.

I asked "could I shake his hand"?

Of course I have always remembered that day, [after all he was my hero] but it came as a shock some 27 years later when I approached him [along with every major gallery in the country] and asked "would you ever consider exhibiting with us"?
"Yes I will,
I remember we shook hands some time ago didn't we"?

I hadn't realised then how many galleries Jim turns down, but the day I asked he consented immediately, and all because I asked to shake his hand all those years ago.
Two nights ago he shocked me by saying that he had thought of that meeting so many times and had often wondered what had become of me,
"and then one day I found you again".
" I want to know you. Lets be friends", he said and put out his hand to shake mine.

The pictures are of the Yorkshire Dales as I left the "Green Dragon", some of Jim's drawings
of the pots he is making and then just a hint of a pot that will be in his exhibition.
If you can make the opening then I urge you to come, you will never again see a collection of pots like it, and you may be able to shake Jim's hand.
That may not be important, but it changed my life and this exhibition will be the fulfillment of a dream.


  1. I've always liked Malone's work. It doesn't seem likely we'll make the opening (wide ocean in between and all ... ), but I look forward to the blog posting when the pots are all in the gallery. And if anyone finds a spare couple of BA tickets between Boston and Heathrow, let us know ...

  2. If our budget ran to it then I would send you the tickets myself, but alas
    our funds go on things that give no pleasure such as advertising, printing, electricity, etc,etc, so I can't.
    But I know that you will be here in spirit and I will raise a glass to you
    at the opening.

  3. What an entrancing account of your meeting with a life long hero and the memorable handshake. I look forward to reading about your dream exhibition.

  4. As a potter myself, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this entry. I can't wait to see the blog post on your opening.