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.

Friday 16 July 2010

A miracle, it's only minutes since I last posted and I am writing again.
I suppose that I had wanted to give different ideas and exhibitions their own space in
my thoughts.
I still have lots to tell about the latest "show" and with luck I will come back to that.
With luck [and time].
What I am writing about now is in a way very involved with the work we are now showing, so I will tell you more.
John Maltby [one of the artists who is on show at the moment] has given me a lot of cause for thought.
He is without a doubt [love it or hate it] maybe the biggest ceramic sculptor on the English scene at the moment.
He has been around for a very long time, in fact he isn't a youngster,
this is something that I can say without worry as he told me yesterday
" I think we are very alike, neither of us takes ourselves too seriously".
Something that for me was a great compliment.

I will admit in the past I have been perplexed by John's sculptures,
I wasn't sure if I loved them or hated them.
They are very different, a little disturbing and very different to anything else.
He is famous, in fact he is very famous.
But fame doesn't always mean good as far as I am concerned.
In this case it does.

Recently, I started to look beyond the 'hype' and 'myths' surrounding his work [and the artist],
and questioned did I really like it, or was it just his fame that was drawing me to the flame.

I find it hard to believe how in a very short space of time I have become obsessed by his work.
Many people may think "why", it isn't pretty, but a lot more people will understand exactly why, it is so very moving.
To look at and hold a piece in your hands is an experience.
It is so hard to describe what it is that moves you so, but moves you it does.
For the first time since opening the gallery Irene [my wife] asked could she keep just "one" piece for herself ? I told her no, we sell beautiful things not collect them.
What a mistake, of course the piece she wanted was the first to sell.
I stood and watched her as she looked at it [she has been back to look since] after the sale,
and felt regret.
One piece of art she has asked for in 5 years, and I said no.
A regret I will live with as she does so much for others and never asks for any thing in return.

I suppose I am telling you this personal stuff just to illustrate how moving John Maltby's work can be. It has taken me by surprise how moved by it everyone seems to be.

He loves the sea and everything connected with it, so as I looked at one of his 'boat' sculptures the other day I found the words "Ancient Mariner" running through my mind.

Half an hour later I found myself writing to him.

This is a man who recently turned down what has been described as
"the most prestigious gallery",
who had approached him to do a solo exhibition.

Many people have asked why did he turn "them" down, that's because they didn't understand the man.
A staunch socialist, with strong ideals about making his work available to ordinary people. Wow, who does that any more? Almost unheard off.

So there I was typing away, putting heart to paper asking would he consider a one man show?
'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'.
If any person could bring this work to life I just knew that John could.
I sent the mail, then waited, and waited, like a child waiting for Christmas morning.
"Please do it", I kept thinking.

Two days later with just a few words he replied.
"I would be VERY interested in your mad idea, call me".

Later that evening we [both excited] discussed how it should look.
"I had sworn I would never do another exhibition, but I want to do this", he told me.

What can I say? Just how lucky am I?

An exhibition, in a way just one piece, although it will total twenty four.
An exhibition worthy of a museum, and I do really hope we are approached by a museum to
purchase it in its entirety, so it can be kept whole.
Twenty four pieces telling one tale.

I am lost for words.
We are a small gallery with big dreams
John has made one a reality.

The opening date? Who knows?
John thanked me for giving him his winters employment, so maybe early summer.
We will do our own small book telling the tale as seen through his sculpture.
I have many plans. We may have an actor reciting the tale, the walls decked with old sails.
Who knows? My heart sings at the prospect of the fun and pleasure I will have.

After talking with John I 'downloaded' old etchings of the story by Gustave Dore'.
Partly to feed my own excitement but also to encourage John's, although I don't think he needed it. As it turns out it is one of his favourite tails, one he purchased as a student, he even owns an old etching from the story.
But, this exhibition will be our story.
Well John's, but at least I will be able to boast "I was there".

Above are old etchings by Gustov and two of John's sculptures, which perhaps explain where it all began.

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