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, 20 May 2010

I thought that I had better do another post while I still have time as I think that time will be something that I will be very short of over the next week.
Already, I am starting to feel anxious at the thought of what has to be done in a short period. One day, perhaps we will have 'whatever art' we are showing well in advance and the build up to an exhibition can be done at a more leisurely pace.
One day pigs might fly.
The main problem for us is that we empty the gallery of other works so that whatever we are showing is seen without other distractions.
It's a strange thing that we look forward to an exhibition because we know the whole gallery
will look different, and that can be refreshing, but we find after a few days we can't wait to get back to the eclectic mixture of things that we display.
At the moment we are back to semi-normal after the ALICE exhibition.
Last night I found myself looking around and thought "I really like it like this".
I had intended to take a few pictures of different bits and pieces just to show the general
look of it all.
Glancing around at the moment I see a pair of Otters standing in the sand, complete with a fish that they must have caught . An Osprey which has just landed on a post, leaning clocks,
ceramic heads, bronze boats fighting against the surf, Minotaurs, pots, pictures of Herons,
Cottages, Hares, Women...................................

I have just remembered that this is not meant to be a stock list, maybe I will one day take some pictures, it will be a lot easier.

Very soon now all of the above[except the pictures] will be cleared to make space for the
ceramics of Jim Malone.
The prospect of this seemed even closer when today I was sent some photographs of his
Kiln firing which has just finished. When I last spoke with Jim the temperature inside the kiln
had dropped down to a mere 700 degrees centigrade.
It won't be cool enough for him to remove the bricks that form the door until Sunday.
So it's a case of "fingers crossed".

I would have liked to have been there for the firing as I remember from the days when I was a potter just how exciting [and stressful] this can be.
When the temperature is at its hottest the kiln is almost like a living beast, with its own strange language.
From the roar of the fire in the stoke holes to the almost silent whistle as the flame ejects some 10 feet into the air from the chimney, there is such an aura and majesty about the beast [kiln].
Any small crack, gap or hole glows white. It is almost impossible to imagine the heat contained behind those few inches of brick.
White Heat.
A heat so intense it is impossible to look at with the naked eye, a single flame that can be 20, 30, 40, 50 and more, feet in length, and all powered from pieces of wood.
There are smells to experience that only a potter knows, one of the strongest being the smell of
scorched leather. The smell from your gloves as they start to burn when you pull out a brick in a spy-hole to look at your 'cones'.
Cones, the little ceramic rods that tell the potter everything that is happening inside the kiln, not just the temperature but what effect this period of prolonged heat is doing to the glazes.
It is the closest you will ever come to being an Alchemist.
Indeed, perhaps you are, because this is very strange science that is happening.
Very expensive science, that kind of heat doesn't come without great cost,
and even greater skill.
One of the worlds greatest potters Shoji Hamada [now dead] was once asked by a
visitor to his pottery "How can you ask $800 for a pot that I have just watch you decorate in
12 seconds"?
"No", he replied. "That pot took 60 years and 12 seconds".
I think that reply tells us everything about the skill of the best potters.

This is what I am looking forward to, the pleasure and the privilege of exhibiting one of the Worlds greatest potters.

I have words to that effect on the invitations that we sent out.
Jim Malone called me when he received his, "I never said I was one of the best potters".
"No you are right, it is from a quote. I said it".
This is what I believe, and for me once the worry and logistics are out of the way,
it will be my great pleasure to show this potters work.

Wow! Putting all that into words has made me feel nostalgic and very excited.

The pictures above I think you will understand are of the kiln firing, with the exception of one which shows the "Beast" when it was sleeping.
David Binch the owner of Oakwood Ceramics took the photographs.
He is an expert on ceramics and the only thing that surprises me about him is that he isn't a potter.


  1. Great photos. Very familiar. Can't wait to see what the show looks like.

  2. Good luck with it all! And, yes, expect to have all the work from artists WELL in advance- when pigs fly.... I once was commissioned by the Ritz Carleton Hotel in Boston to paint a 5' x5' painting for their new addition. I lived 40 mins. away and when the freight company came to collect the painting, they had an enormous crate and said my painting was being shipped to California to be framed, and back to Boston to be hung... yup..( and they actually haggled with the gallery over the price of my work!) The crate was designed so that if the painting were still wet, it would still be alright. They said they were forever collecting work from artists that were still wet... mine was not!

    And... I remember a story of a woman who went up to Itzhak Perlman an said to him, "I would give my life to play like that!" Perlman answered, "I have". A bit like 60 years and 12 seconds...