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 15 December 2011

What I really dislike about 'blogger' is that it seems so "thick".
Most likely it is me that is thick, but after having spent a hour writing a post and then realising that I had left a picture out I tried to correct it and typically lost everything.
It is a bit of a bugger as I was in one of those moods where I was enjoying telling and writing about things.
Now of course the "moment" [or hour] has passed and I don't intend to re-visit what in my mind is now history, so instead I will just show the pictures that related to what I had written about my recent adventures and the artists connected with them.
I will re-visit at least one as it relates to lots of things in the future but until then.

Here is a painting by Rosalind Lyons Hudson.
She spends a lot of time at the 'Shakespeare Globe Theatre', re-creating costumes, scenes and events. This painting is from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and features the fairies.
'Peablossom, Cobweb, Moth & Mustardseed'.
Suffice to say I love it.

The next picture is one of the new creations by Michael Parkes.
Of this I will say no more [I had written a load] as I will come back to his new work soon.

The ceramic clocks are by Ross Emerson, and I really can't write again about him as I have spent 40 minutes telling about my recent [nightmare] trips to visit him.
But here anyway are the remaining unsold pieces from those trips.

Lastly is a painting that I have "lusted" after and wanted to exhibit for so long, it is titled.
"Polly Vaughan's Swan Song", by Kate Leiper.
I think that it is so beautiful, innocent and fitting to the season, it featured on our
Christmas invitation.
If you know of the story of 'Swan Lake' then you can probably work out what it tells of,
she has been shot by her lover, a Prince.
Sad, beautiful, innocent and childish.
Whatever, I will take pleasure everyday looking at it while it is here,
and I will be so very sorry to see it go.

Sometimes I really would like something to keep for myself.
But, go it must for that is the nature of what we do, I do miss some things more than I should and I certainly know that this will be one of them,
but after all we are a just shop and selling our goods is what we must do.
Still at least for a little while this is mine.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Too many different pieces of art have arrived or are on route at the moment.
No, that was a mistake.
What I meant is that there are too many different things for me to choose from to show.
"I should show that, but what about this it arrived earlier, wow! I want to let people see this,
how have I left that unseen? Etc, etc, etc.
These are the many thoughts that I have each day, so as a result I take the easy option and instead of taking photographs I go home.
Which doesn't matter as I read on a blog recently,
"it makes me laugh when people apologise for not posting, after all who cares".
Who indeed?
So if there is anyone who is interested here are a few things that have interested or captivated me recently.

Firstly, I have to admit that I have a "bit of a problem" with tea bowls, and what follows will upset any potter who bothers to read, but that is not my intention.
It seems that for the past 25 years or so western potters have been working away trying to produce the perfect tea bowl, myself included.
But why?
It is not of the Western culture, we do not hold tea ceremonies or revere the ritual's associated with them.
But we do know that the best potters in the world, the Japanese and before them the Koreans
regard them with great importance, so obviously to be a good potter you must be able to make a good tea bowl.
In fact I think once I nearly did make a good one as one of my hero's [in ceramics]
Takeshi Yasuda admired a bowl made by me and pronounced that "it is nearly good".
That was it, when I heard I was "made up" as we say in England [or I do].
I was now a real potter, or so I thought at the time.
Since that day many, many years ago I have thought often about Tea Bowls, and even though I have a large collection of them I have decided that the "Western" tea bowl is a lot of nonsense.
What do we do with them?
Drink coffee or wine out of them or maybe even drop a teabag in once in a while and have a brew?
This wasn't what they were intended for and they are not of our culture.
This only became very clear to me one day a couple of years ago when a customer was in the gallery deliberating for an hour or so over different pots
[made by a very revered English potter].
Eventually he came over to the counter and told me "I have decided at last, I'm going for the jar
not the tea bowl [this is where the anoraks ask what kind was it, Yunomi, Chawan, who cares]
they are both the same price but I can't bring myself to pay £200 for a tea bowl".
He went on to explain that he understood that I had to "mark up prices to make a living",
but I pointed out to him that the price label was hand written in gold pen and unlike any of our
price labels. "That is the potters price and what you would pay at her studio" I told him.
"We receive a percentage of that but that is what you would pay direct".

He left with his jar, but he left me with a lot of thoughts.
Hell, we sell mugs from £10 so why was a mug without a handle £200.
What do most of us use each day? A mug or a cup, so to me these should be the pieces that we cherish not a bowl that most of us don't know how to use.
So why do we all persist in making bowls?
Because we are all trying to be recognised potters and to do so it is best to aspire to
replicate the best of the east.
Wasn't there an old pop song "I think I'm turning Japanese". I really think so.

As a result I returned all of the pots to the maker as I no longer felt comfortable with them.
She was not "too" happy, and many people have since asked "are you mad"?
The potter is important, and very very good, but I felt uncomfortable with those prices.
I have made my bed now I will lay in it.

So having upset any potter who is reading.

A few years ago I went to a ceramic fair and showing there was a man named Richard Dewar.
Richard is English but has his pottery in France, and he really does produce some lovely work.
However at the show I visited he had on display a selection of tea bowls.
"What now" I thought. Japanese bowls made by an Englishman in France, "what next".
But these were different, they had all the beauty and qualities that I would look for in a tea bowl but they all had "handles".
They were beautiful, fun, objects, meant to be used and were priced at £8 each.
Here was a man who wasn't taking himself too seriously, although his pots were seriously good.
I have used the one I purchased everyday since then.
Sure it is getting chipped in places but it gives me great pleasure to use, whats more I don't burn my fingers holding the bugger because I use the handle.

I met Richard again a couple of months ago and he was still making and selling tea bowls but this time he was also showing a fantastic selection of tea pots.
Everyone totally different and unique and with prices that started at £25.
Although he was selling them there were no "tea bowl mugs" as beautiful as my own [of course] so instead I left with boxes full with his teapots.
I was surprised that from years ago he remembered me purchasing the "tea mug", not because of the money he made but because he knew I was going to enjoy it [or so he said].
I have meant many times to show the teapots I purchased and now at last today I have photographed those few left.

Apart from Richards pots there is also another teapot I am showing, made by a delightful young
Welshman, Sean Gordon.
He is such a lovely man and whenever I see him he tells me "you are leaving with some of my pots aren't you"? More a command than a question.
He is a strange lad [not strange, lovely], and although young, his roots are firmly set in the past.
He often talks of the "great miners strike" and the affect that it had on his family and his community.
Like him I remember with anger what Thatcher did to the working man.

He remembers his childhood and home and as a result, many of his pots are based on updated versions of old household implements [like his "coal scuttle jugs"].
But like everyone he is looking forward and outward and the latest teapot that I collected from him I have named the "Laboratory" teapot.
It is fun, beautiful, very well designed, and more importantly it pours a treat.
In fact I think I might use it to make a "cuppa" to pour into my "teabowlmug".
Is nothing sacred nowadays?

Monday 21 November 2011

I have different events and various works to show and I am trying to decide what to write and show, I felt that they should all be in correct order.
But no, I will have to record today's event as it is still fresh in my mind and had made such an impression on my thoughts.

Every day, of every week of each month and year I am searching for new artists,
trying to find work that intrigues and moves me.
It is a little like prospecting for gold or that is how it seems to me, which is a little silly as there are many many fantastic artists working in all mediums out there,
but I am just searching for "my" gold and that is a little different.
I discovered one such artist [as had many others before me] maybe a year or so ago.
A young man named Will Teather.
I found his work so intriguing and desirable that I decided that it would be a waste of time trying to make contact with him.
He seemed to be in demand everywhere, was winning awards and was showing in so many
top class locations.
"Too late again", were my thoughts.
I moved on but never forgot his work and I would often search to find what he was up to.

I have explained that some artist's do also search us out, in the same way as I search them.
Serendipity? Is that the word I'm looking for.

One afternoon I had a call from Irene: "what do you think of that artist"?
"What artist"?
"Have you checked your mail today"?
"You had better, there is someone who is 'right up your street' who has mailed you".

To my surprise and great delight there was a mail from Will Teather.
He wanted to know if I would have an interest in his paintings as a friend had told him
that we were meant for each other.
After running around the gallery punching the air and saying "yes, yes", to myself
for a while I eventually gave him a call.

Some two months later [don't ask why] I eventually made the trip to his studio this morning.
With the aid of my SatNav I eventually found myself somewhere that I knew must be yards
from his studio, when I passed a very "up market" looking gallery.
"Bloody Hell", they had one of his paintings in the window,
I moved on to the next set of windows, made from curved sheets of glass.
"Just look at this place", I was thinking, then looking up I found an inscription on the glass.
Purveyor of the Extraordinary.

So my journey in to the world [or studio] of Will Teather began.
He looked exactly as I imagined him to be, tall, bearded with long hair that fell about and hid his face.
A larger than life personality for a larger than life artist.
Although that was the exterior, the man himself was shy, gracious and very humble,
He kept thanking me for my "too" kind comments, and I knew that he meant it.

His studio? Disorganised chaos.
It was fantastic, a real Alladins cave, beautiful paintings were trying to be seen.
A fantastic leather mask was fighting for space next to a banana, a cycle helmet was beside the paints. Prints, objects, frames and artefacts were everywhere, and I mean everywhere,
I wouldn't have been surprised if there wasn't an Egyptian Mummy stored in there somewhere.
It was a beautiful mess, one only an artist can create.
But on every available wall space was an amazing painting, some finished and others with months or even a year of work still to be done before completition.
It was wonderful.
I loved it and would have been disappointed if it had been any different.
More will be told about the artist as I get to know him, as I am sure that there are a wealth of tales to tell, so that is something for me to look forward to.

There were some particular pieces of Will's work that I was really keen to see.
Like many, many other galleries I wanted to see his series of paintings concerning
'Maudeline Spacks'.
The tale of Maudeline is too long for me to tell
[I shall ask Will for an abbreviated version that I can post at a later date],
but suffice to say that she performed the
Worlds greatest vanishing act.
She appeared on stage in Sydney and London simultaneously with a televised link between
the two locations, the event was attended by many celebrities and was being recorded by all the media, it was to be her "big break".
Appear she did, but only to vanish, somewhere between the two locations.
The dress that she wore at the performance still remains, and it is this that has formed the focus of Will's paintings.

True, untrue? I know that there is a lot to tell and that Will has researched his subject well.
Either that or he made the bloody lot up.
But the story and the artefacts connected with it are fascinating, and his paintings and those in progress are beautiful, and I know for certainty that those unsold are being sought after
by various galleries and publishers.
The one thing I know for certainty is that Will Teather is going to be a name we will hear a great deal more of in the future. I stood in front of his paintings and felt that I was viewing something very special.

I came home with a few of them today.
Will told me to choose what I wanted, so I suppressed by greed and desire and chose four
smaller studies, along with a limited edition print
A print of the first of his work that I had come across, that was a lovely feeling.

So here we have them.
The first is the original painting that introduced me to Will the others are from the
"Maudeline Spacks" series.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

What to write about?
Each day that passes I feel the need and desire to write something, but what can I write?
I want it to have at least a little interest, but on a daily basis not enough happens that I think
would interest anyone, so I tend to let things slide for "another" day.
There is a blog that I read everyday by a dynamic lady named Tracey Broome
who lives in America.
I delight in what she writes, records and rants about, such an honest, open woman.
If only I had the nerve to record events as she does.
Still I suppose that telling the world that one artist or the other is on a big "ego trip" is not really a good thing to write.
At the same time I have to subscribe to the British lie that everything is great.
"Recession, what recession"?
According to some English artist's we should have more of them, as they have
"never had it so good".
Fantastic artists or fantastic liars? Hhhhhmmmmmmm.

Without a doubt some of the very best artists are doing really well as their work is
perceived as an investment in these troubled times.

Hang on!
What troubled times?

It is so very refreshing to read blogs and receive mails from people
and galleries from around the World
who actually have the courage to admit:
"some shows are shit, all people want to purchase is a beer and burger".
It is having contact like this that makes me smile.
My vote is going to Tracey Broome for president of the USA,
not only for her courage to "tell it like it is" but also for the amount of work that she does and the beautiful unusual "folk art" that she produces.

So what can I write that would be as interesting and honest as someone like her?
Not a lot, other than the usual self promotion that we all get a little bored with.

Well, I could have written pages about our present gallery location and offers of other premises, but a lot of that is too sensitive and would involve a lot of swearing, and I do enough
of that each day without putting it onto paper [screen].
So I come back to my dilemma of what I can write about.
Things like, "I sold that, I didn't sell this but there is a lot of interest in that painting"
it doesn't make really good reading.
But these are the daily events and it wouldn't interest me to read it, but maybe I am wrong
and these are the interesting things, because I suppose thinking about it seriously,
my life isn't ordinary.

So for better or worse here is today's offering.
One of the things that gives me great pleasure and much cause for excitement is to often wonder "whose art will I be showing this time next year"?
What a thought.
I know that there are so many fantastic artists out there who have been producing amazing work for many, many years, yet I do not even know of their existence.
But next year I might be exhibiting their art and we might even be friends.
What an incredible thought.

It has made me think about where does our gallery art come from
and how did it all come to fruition?
So here are a few examples.

An artist that I have mentioned before, "Kate Leiper", has been someone that I have chased after for years. Unfortunately so have many, many others, and as a result her work is in great demand and the chances of us getting anything here were very slim.
But, I can be an very persistent, [others would say rude] so I never gave up with her.
How could I, as I love her paintings so much?
Eventually she conceded to my many requests and we now have her work on the walls.
It is impossible to describe the pleasure that this gives me, it is something that I once thought would never happen but it has.
Her paintings "in the flesh" are even more beautiful than I imagined,
what a thrill, they are here and we are selling them so who knows where it might lead?
That is fun to dream about.

Earlier in the summer I visited a wonderful art fair. It was a three day event but I had to visit
the day before the opening to return some paintings to an exhibiting artist.
In a way this was like a very "private view" as I was able to look at so much varied work by so many artists without being hampered by other visitors.
I found one artist whose work was so very different, unusual and beautiful.
Carole Bury
I would "just have to have [I told Irene on the mobile] her best piece in the gallery".
I wanted it so much it hurt but I also knew that it was a waste of time to ask for it as the woman had three days of exhibiting in front of her".
To cut a very long story short, I showed her my heart and when the show ended I drove away
with her work in the car.
What she creates is so unusual.
It is individual paintings that are stitched between layers of transparent paper.
You have to see them to understand them.
Since the day I left with her 'masterpiece' in my car, she has sent me many others.
A kind and very talented lady.

Frequently I get chased and called by some artists who would like us to show their work.
This I find hard as I can be a little fussy plus I hate rejecting people,
I know that it is so easy to kill enthusiasm and talent, and it seems unfair
when the only criteria is my own taste and thoughts.
From experience I understand that a few negative words can cause a lot of damage.
I find it easier to be rejected than to make the decision to reject the
people who approach me, but I do it, and on a weekly basis.

So it was with one young sculptor who approached me, I felt that her ideas weren't right for me,
I liked a lot of her work very much but a question mark hung in the air.

One year later we met early in the morning, miles from both our homes and her beautiful
work was transferred from her car to mine.
What a result.
I love it, it is well conceived and crafted and each piece tells a story which for me is so important, it doesn't matter if the story that it tells is different to the one in her own mind,
it tells a story and provokes a lot of thought.
So thank you, Clare Walker
for persisting, calling and mailing me many times, you have made me feel so very fortunate to have your work on show.

Other works have arrived recently, each with a tale to tell but my day has been long and I want
to go home to a welcome of dogs.
The people at home gave up on seeing me hours ago.

Monday 17 October 2011

While other events have been taking place and occupying most of my attention
it has been business as usual behind the scenes here at the gallery.
Well, not really "as usual", because the past few weeks have seen the arrival of various different
pieces of work.
Some expected and eagerly awaited, some anticipated and some desired but with no expectation that they would ever come to us.
So despite the fact that I have other things to display I couldn't hold back any longer from showing a few pieces.
These are from a Sottish artist, a sculptor from Sussex and another from France.

I have long desired to show their work,
but apart from Melanie Bourget the French sculptor I had all but given up on the other two.

Guy Holder, the wildlife sculptor.
I remember contacting him very shortly after we first opened, I asked if I could show
some of his ceramic Owls.
It was a waste of time as he explained that he had just signed a one year contract to a gallery
in Cambridge, the terms of the contract forbid him to show with any other gallery
within East Anglia.
If you live outside England you will not understand that East Anglia is a very large area
which is made up from three counties, or states.
It is very large and for anyone to enter into such an arrangement they had to be
mad or desperate.
I have since spoken with other artists who had at some time signed with the same gallery,
they all say the same, "never again".

So with Guy I waited a frustrating year before I approached him again.
He was out of his contract but was now designing for companies who were manufacturing his work on a larger scale.
So he was still unable to let me have anything.
I think I remember trying on another couple of occasions but still with no luck.
But never say never.
I am often told that I should forget some people and "just move on",
but unfortunately that isn't my nature.
So a few weeks ago for the first time I met Guy "in the flesh" and told him that I had contacted him in the past..........................................
"Hang on, are you Imagine Gallery"? He asked
"I was about to contact you to ask would you take my new sculptures"?
Yes Please.
So, it goes to show that stubbornness and persistence do sometimes pay off.

I am showing only one piece by Guy at the moment as I want to photograph them all properly so that people will understand why I persisted.

Next, is Melanie Bourget the French sculptor.
I have loved and coveted her sculptures for a long time, and we have corresponded for a while,
so I knew that with her work it was just a case of when and not if.
She recently came to London so we met for the first time.
It was very entertaining trying to converse, with her minimal understanding of English
and with only my "school boy" French we struggled to have a complete conversation.
But with lots of smiling and pointing and picture drawing we came to an agreement eventually.
Unfortunately for me our first meeting coincided with two major exhibitions of her work
in France and then Canada, so my choice was limited slightly, but not that it mattered as I loved everything that she presented me with.
So here is the start of her work with us, next year I am hoping for an exhibition.
We will see.

Last, but by no means least.
These are the paintings of a woman from Scotland
who I have been pursuing for a couple of years.
Kate Leiper.
I had managed to get some limited edition prints from her a while ago
but I was still longing for a few original paintings.
One in particular.
At last week they arrived, including the one I had most desired.
A strange name for an equally strange painting.
"Mine at last", it was such a strange experience to hold it in my hands and be able to study it
properly, instead of just looking at photographs.
Of course I had to show it to the world, so into the window it went just before I left for home.
Next morning, within three minutes of opening it was sold.

I suppose that is what it is all about having a gallery, but sometimes, just sometimes,
it would be nice for things not to sell.
Well at least for a day, any longer and I would start to worry.

So here above are the objects of my desire.
Two of Kate's paintings, two of Melanie's ladies and just one of Guys
[fictitious Owls].

Saturday 15 October 2011

Trying to catch up on neglected jobs I haven't had a chance to show anything else that is being shown in the exhibition.
Why is it that the things that you want to do most always go to the bottom of the list?
I dunno, but it happens everyday.
So today having a brief break from chores I am taking the opportunity to put a few
new pieces on show.

At the exhibition opening Jackie Morris was taking photographs of everything on show,
[unlike me as I totally forgot until it was too late].
Some of her pictures she put on display on her Facebook,
as a result there has been a lot of interest in the work of one woman in particular.
Eleanor Bartleman.

Ellie is a very clever woman, plus a very kind person.
She drove all the way from Devon just to bring me two small sculptures,
she wanted to make sure that they arrived intact,
plus she says that she likes to see where her work will be shown.
This is pretty unusual but certainly very refreshing.
It is a pity that we hadn't discussed it before, as two nights before I drove 10 hours to
Devon and back to collect something else so we could have met up on route.
However, it was lovely to have her visit and to have the time to talk,
and even nicer to open her boxes after she left.
I wanted to wait until she had left because I knew that I would be delighted with what she had
created and I wanted to take my time and linger over each piece.
A little like you did as a child when you were down to the last few unopened presents at Christmas.
Both pieces are beautiful and one is very unusual.
It is a totally different take on 'Little Bo - Peep'.
It explains why maybe she lost her sheep.
The other is equally as beautiful and has a real presence about it.
' To Market, To Market, To Buy A Fat Pig '.
It is lovely but what makes it special is the angelic face and eyes of the young boy.
If he was real he would be in films.

So I thought I had better show them quick before Jackie takes any more credit
for discovering them and Ellie.
Although of course no one discovered her, as she was never lost.
But I am proud to have her here.

Another woman who comes from the same part of the country
[well actually Cornwall but that's close]
is the very clever Jane Ryan.
Jane makes toys, wooden toys for adults.
Actually they are toys for all ages , but I somehow think that the story they tell and with the verses written upon them they are perhaps enjoyed more by "big children".
They all work and are meant to be played with and the three that arrived for the exhibition
were certainly played with at the exhibition opening.
They look very simple but the workings are very complex and very well conceived and crafted.
Regardless of anything else the old wooden plinths that they stand on are a thing of beauty,
I have an image in my mind of Jane spending hours on the beach each day searching for
driftwood, maybe not but it is hard to imagine that they came from anywhere else.
Plus I like the romantic image in my mind.

The piece above is 'March Winds April Showers',
as the handle is turned the woman waters the flowers which then grow.
Very clever.
Her version of 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' sold at the opening but we do still have
'Lavenders Blue Lavenders Green'...........Love Machine.
With a title like that you just know that it is different.

The spoon on the stand is yet another creation from the multi talented Karen.
Simple and beautiful, is the best way to describe it.
With the title it explains itself.
"A Swarm of Bees In June Is Worth A Silver Spoon".
Although the spoon might be antique silver the Bees are cast from Pewter.
Karen created them from clay
"holding them with a toothpick, as they were drying too fast in my fingers".
Then when they had been fired she cast them individually, each individual Bee is beautiful and highly detailed and I couldn't help but ask "wouldn't it have been easier to have cast from life"?
She told me "no", because all of the real detail would be lost and the only way she could show detail was by exaggerating everything.
I have since found this is true as I have seen various insects including Bees that have been cast from life and they all appear fuzzy and blurred.

What she will make next is any ones guess but I just know that the best of Karen's work is still to come and I know that she will go onto great things.
It is not if, just when.

Monday 10 October 2011

Although I intend to I never get to write anything before an exhibition as it seems
that the last weeks and days disappear in a blur.
A blur of travel and worry.
Travel, because some of the promised work still isn't finished and it means that it wouldn't be
here for the opening unless collected at the last minute.
Worry, because I am never sure if everything will be here and also because you never know
how the opening will go, and the most important priority is that I don't want
to let the artist or artists down.

So as usual thirty minutes before the door was opened I was cleaning, arranging, printing prices, panicking and getting in a sweat.
It's the same every time and I suppose it always will be, as I think that even with another day or even a week I would still find more to do and even more to worry about.
But at last the door was opened to waiting people and the exhibition was underway.

People were viewing, Jackie Morris the illustrator was signing her new book
and I was enjoying a glass of wine.
Well, to tell the truth I wasn't enjoying it I was just drinking it because there was the rest of the day to get through and still much to worry about.
There wasn't really, but I think I just enjoy worrying.

I had been looking forward to the arrival of many of the pieces of art that were being shown
and it was a real pleasure to see everything set out and to be able to enjoy the things that I
had only known from photographs.
It is strange that although I wish for everything to sell at an exhibition a part of me wants nothing to go, so that I can have the continued pleasure of looking at things. In theory I should have that pleasure for at least a couple of weeks but we have always had a policy that if people have made long journeys to come here then we would allow them to take their purchase with them.
Fortunately many people are from a thirty mile radius but many do undertake journey's of
many hours to be arrive here.
The result of this is that some of the exhibits that I would like myself and others to enjoy vanish sooner rather than later.
So it is some of the "disappeared" that I will show first.

The very first sale [apart from many of Jackie's books] was for a most unusual sculpture,
made by a very unusual person.
The artist is a lovely lady named Lorell Lehman, who unfortunately for me lives in Australia.
Unfortunately, because I would love to show much more of her work,
but I think that the distance will make it too hard.
Everything she makes is innocent and beautiful, a little like the creator.
Although, perhaps her Goblins and other such creatures aren't so innocent.

Whatever, Lorell's contribution to the exhibition was a inspired by her
favourite childhood nursery rhyme.
"A Pobble".
In fact "the" Pobble.
'The Pobble Who Has No Toes', written by Edward Lear.

I confess I had never heard of this, and when receiving photographs prior to the arrival I wasn't sure what to think.
Then I read the Rhyme/Poem, and instantly I fell in love with him.
The story is so silly, old fashioned, innocent and full of nonsense, it is impossible not to love it,
or the sculpture that it inspired.
In fact this sculpture shows Pobble before he lost his toes, but! Protecting his nose, because.

"it's perfectly known that a Pobble's toes
Are safe,-----provided he minds his nose."

It was a piece of sculpture that only comes along "once in a long while".
I was sorry to see him go, but happy to know that he is now living with two of the nicest
customers we have known. So I think he will be happy and cared for.
The pictures above show him about to embark on his swim across the Bristol Channel.
His bell is of course to warn ships away, but I'm sure you realised that anyway.

The other picture shows a totally different sort of work.
It was made by my best friend Karen, and again it is total nonsense but in an instant tells
what the exhibition was all about.
"Four & Twenty Blackbirds", who wouldn't recognise that?
Although I did hear someone looking through the window the evening before the opening
telling people that there were only 21 Blackbirds.
Maybe he was the village idiot [like every village/town we do have one or maybe two].

I am so pleased that Karen created this piece for us as I know that she is under a lot of pressure
and has a baby due soon, so she didn't need me calling saying
"our exhibition is nearly on us".
But typically she managed to make us some special pieces just in time.
She told me that it had been on her mind that "I can't let John down", and I was very moved
by this statement from someone who certainly doesn't need extra pressure at this time.

She also created a VERY unusual clock.
"Hickory, Dickory, Dock...................."
That I didn't have a chance to photograph and never will, as it left with Jackie Morris
who had been undecided about different treasures but eventually left with this unique object,
complete with Mice running up and down and with an Owl perched waiting to catch them.

It is these sort of innocent pieces that made the whole exhibition fun, along with the presence
of the incredible Jackie Morris, who without any complaint talked and signed for hours on end.
She was so nice she didn't even complain about my grumpy nature.
Stress doesn't tend to bring out the best in me.

Thank you to everyone, it was a very enjoyable and light hearted start to an exhibition.

Saturday 1 October 2011

Lots of new things to show and I can't believe that I haven't been displaying them here,
but I have come to understand that I don't enjoy writing and showing things when I feel down.
Unfortunately there has been one prolonged ongoing incident that has been really annoying me and I find it amazing that one bad feeling undermines all of the good things that happen.
But such is life.
I won't mention the subject of of my recent cause for disappointment at the moment as it would detract from what I will write about, and that is not fair for others.
But I will just say the problem was caused by bureaucracy and small minded
"jobsworth" people.

Because of the long lapse I am really behind in talking about current and future events,
one of which is almost upon us.
Anyone who has read things that I have written before will know that we always have on
display some of the original paintings by the Artist, Author, Illustrator
Jackie Morris.
Next week sees the publication of her 28th book [well I think it's 28].
She not only writes and illustrates her own award winning books but also produces the covers of books for many famous authors.
In fact it was only after we started showing her art that I realised that much of it I was familiar with without ever having known that she was the creator.
In fact anyone who has been into a bookshop in the past ten years will probably recognise her art as it is featured on the covers of so many "best selling" books.

So next Saturday we are going to do something that we have never done before,
we are holding a book launch.
Well actually it's not just a book launch it is also an exhibition.
Jackie's new book is an illustrated collection of children's nursery rhymes, so it was decided
[probably by me]
that we would hold an exhibition based upon the theme of "Nursery Rhymes"
to accompany the launch and book signing.
Book signing?
Well that will be something different again because Jackie being the unusual person that she is
doesn't "just" sign her books, she always draws a unique sketch in the front of each book
which makes each unique and collectible in its own way.
So it's Jackie, signing and drawing plus a very unusual exhibition.

I admit that this event is bringing more than its fair share of stress
[referred to at start of post]
and is going to be "close to the wire", as I kept thinking of different people that I would like to participate, as a result there have been lots of late calls made and there is still work being
created by different people.
I know it will all come together at the last minute but at the moment the next week looks like it will disappear in a flurry of trips around the country.
In fact while I am writing this I have just thought of another sculptor who I think would
be interested, but of course it's far too late to contact her, isn't it.
No, yes, no, "oh, don't be stupid John of course it is".
Right that does it, as soon as I have finished this I will call her, after all she must know by now that I'm mad, and would expect nothing less.
Mad and excited by beautiful things, that's me.

Beautiful things?
The new book by Jackie Morris is titled 'The Cat and the Fiddle' but this was a last minute change by the editor as for a long time the book was to be named
'A Rhyme in Time'.
Indeed Jackie had painted the front cover and it was this that became the inspiration
for the exhibition.
The cover was to show her painting of a "magical clock", a clock depicting many famous characters, animals and creatures from nursery rhymes.
I fell in love with the painting of the clock as soon as Jackie sent me an image.
"If only it was a real clock", were my thoughts.
Now it is.
An old friend from childhood who is now an incredibly talented jeweller was persuaded to create the clock as a real working timepiece.
Jonathan Mayle.
I know that Jon understood exactly the amount of work that he was committing to, but for some reason he agreed to "have a go".
Have a go, in Jon's language means "you will get the best clock you can imagine",
and we have done.
In fact it became a collaboration with his artist/sculptor wife Jan, as it was she that undertook to paint the brass figures to replicate the original painting.

Of course the book editor decided to disrupt all of our plans and two weeks before the book
went off to the printers "she" fell in love with another painting and decided that this would be the cover, and guess what?
The title didn't fit the painting so she changed that also.
So the clock painting became the "end plates" for the publication.

I admit that it was a long time before I had the courage to call Jonathan and tell him the news.
Still why should he mind? He had only been working on the clock for two months.
It says a lot for his nature that he took it in his stride, there were no ego problems here.
He continued working on it and finally with the additions of Jan's painting it was finished.

The painting brought to life.
A real working clock, created from copper, brass, silver and gold and including precious stones.
It is now in a case hanging in the gallery and it looks beautiful.
Next week the original painting will hang alongside Jon's creation,
I would love to think that they will find a joint home, they deserve and should stay together.

In memory of the original title and as a dedication to Jonathan's countless hours of work
our exhibition is called "A Rhyme in Time".

As well as many unusual pieces of art there will be other clocks on show,
but none that took as long in the creation as this.

The pictures above show the invitation cover depicting Jackie's inspiring painting.
The clock in the "early" [six weeks] stages.
The back cover showing the clock before being secured in a case.
The inside of the invitation showing various works by different artist's including the one that
has been the cause of my recent upset.
But I will tell you more of that as the artist really deserves
recognition for the effort that she took to be involved in this exhibition.

If anyone wants to order a signed book with unique illustration let me know as we will only
have a limited number and we are expecting a lot of Jackie fans at the opening.

Saturday 10 September 2011

I have the desire to write every day but as this isn't a personal blog [well it is a little bit]
it makes it harder, I can't write about the daily things that happen and are very important in my life as I had wanted to keep the blog restricted to the gallery.

I am aware that many galleries now keep "blogs", or as far as I'm concerned they are just advertisements as they are only posted about six times a year and might consist of
"Please come on Wednesday when we will be showing new paintings by Doris Day",
of course the same people are putting the same heartfelt message on 'twitter', f'acebook',
and anything else you can think of.
Maybe I should be doing that.
But for me the height of technology and interest is 'blogging'.
I once mentioned a long while ago I was urged to do this by an artist who told me
"we want to know what happens behind the scenes,
come on give us the dirt on everybody, tell us what it is like everyday".

If only she knew how many times her words run through my mind, and how much I would love
to give the details of what goes on.
But, alas I am unable to tell everything, instead I have to "skirt" around it and maybe just hint
about what happens, and the various egos involved.
So the prolonged gap in posting is because lots has happened.

So, lots happened so why not write about it?
Because for every artist that gives me great pleasure to deal with there is at least one other
who is shallow and really disrupts the peace and pleasure of having a gallery.
So I try to give a "thumbnail" of how it is to run a gallery, but I would never be able to do what I was encouraged to do at the start and "tell all".

However, of course the good times outweigh the bad and most people/artists are lovely, and have become my best friends and enriched my life more than I could ever explain.

Today being one example.
I had the unexpected but delightful visit from two sculptors who work together,
Paul Priest and Gaynor Ostinelli.

We are fortunate that our relationship with them works well, although it's not too surprising as they are totally easy going, I don't think that they have even worked out how many letters are in the word ego, plus they always travel a long distance to bring me new work, without any complaint, and that is a very generous thing.
It is a strange that every time I think "what I need now is something by Paul and Gay"
a day or two later they turn up with something new.
As far as they are concerned their work is never " perfect", there is always something that troubles them about it, but at the end of each visit Paul will say,
"well my friend, you just wait and see what we are working on now, you will love it".
I do, but every time they feel that they can "do better for next time.
I think they passed being "very good a long while ago.

I must confess that Paul does get my own 'award' for being the most appreciative artist.
He once told me, "if anyone ever says to me again what does a gallery do other than take your money? Then I'm going to send them here, you work your socks off for us".

It is easy to see why I like them.
So today started with one of their visits, which was brilliant but immediately left me in the dilemma of "what shall I put where, and who should I be showcasing".

I say this because I have recently been sent work by various artist/sculptors that I like and admire and the desire is to put them all in the main window, but that is impossible without making it look silly, so instead I will rotate them around.
In truth I don't want to part with any of their work, I do want to sell it but I hate the thought of parting with it.

Above are a few of the different works that I have received recently.
Of course there are todays arrivals by the "Ostinelli/Priest" collaboration, which are the Hounds and the magnificent Bull.
Another is the bronze "puppet" by my hero Emma Rodgers.
The unusual and beautiful "Head"is by the lovely and incredibly shy but very talented
Helen Nottage.
It is a real treat to show her work.
We have shown her since she was at art collage, now she sells through auction rooms,
and of course still us.
It is so nice to have that continuity and to be involved in an artists progression.
It is what having a gallery is all about.

So how could I not mention the artist whose painting is at the bottom
[only on the list of pictures not in my mind]?
Lindsey Carr.
In fact the same person who urged me to start a blog.
Today is a very important day for her, she has the opening of her first
Solo exhibition in America.
Her first solo exhibition ever was here, and is something I will always be proud and grateful for, this young woman is destined for very great things.
So if you are anywhere near Culver City in California then go and see her exhibition.

The work shown above does vary a little,
the only common link is that I love it all and the artists have given me great pleasure.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

What shall I photograph next? I have been thinking.
A job I really hate. I want to show the varied works that we have but I really dislike the process of taking pictures and preparing them for show on the Internet.
Why? It is simple many of you must think, and I do admire the people who can just "snap away"
and show their wares. But when what you are displaying is created by someone else it is a lot harder.
I would rather show nothing [and I often do] than present someones art in a manner that doesn't do full justice to the work, so because of this I take less pictures than I should.

So back to my original thoughts of what I should show next.

Of course new arrivals are always in my mind because they have been the cause of my latest excitement and because they are fresh to me I want to show the world what I have found.
So this afternoon I had a look around, made a mental list of what to photograph, then looked again. I was amazed to see how many beautiful things that we are showing that I have never
mentioned, so instead of what I was going to photograph and show I decided to concentrate on
other pieces of work that I love equally as much but have never got around to presenting.
Of course they [or similar pieces] are always on show here but I have never shown them to a wider audience, so I will try to start rectifying that now.

So today I am showing the dramatic, yet very gentle and very emotive ceramics of
Anja Lubach.
We have shown Anja work for as long as I can remember, and I find it as beautiful and moving today as the first time I ever held a piece in my hands.
It is made from porcelain,
and more than any work I have known it relies upon light.
The same piece will take on so many different characteristics depending on how it is illuminated.

Many people have purchased her work and told me
"I am going to put candles in it".
Having heard the same statement many times
I still manage to express surprise at such a good idea.
But then it is a good idea.
Other people have told me "oh! these are really creepy".
On those occasions much as I have wanted to I have so far managed to hold back from saying
"see that door? Get out of it you ******* idiot".

Yes you can tell that I really am a people person.

Anja's work is incredible, well crafted and it is a constant delight and surprise to me that there
is not a lot of it offered for sale elsewhere.
Her small beakers are a delight and really affordable and intended to be used, but I will admit that it would take a stronger spirit than mine to pour coffee/tea or wine into one.
Which is a great shame because they are intended for daily use and I'm sure the pleasure of the piece could only be heightened by constant handling.

What's more unusual is you could even afford to break one and then only mourn the loss of the object rather than the "financial disaster" that has just occurred.
Now that is a rare thing.

I have tried without success to give a feeling of how her work looks but it really does depend upon the lighting, so here is a very small mixture, I hope it just gives a small understanding of what these beautiful ceramics are like.

I have known for a long time that she is going to be "great" but I very much doubt that a thought like that has ever gone though her mind.

I am VERY proud that her work is always here on show and feel a little shamed that I haven't talked about her in the past.

Better late than never.
Thank you Anja.