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.

Saturday 5 March 2011

The day started off in a strange way.
Strange, but good, maybe bad. Only time will tell
I mentioned some time ago about a gypsy woman who came in and told me things about
myself and the life and future of the gallery.
Nonsense that I knew it was I handed her some money.
Her words and what she told me were not only true but gave me belief and determination.

She came in again today.
The cynic in me [and there's a lot of that] thought " she has found a soft touch".
But without a pause [or only a small one] I opened the till and handed her some money.
"Do you want to buy from me today", She asked?
As before she had nothing, so what was there to purchase?
I told her no, but thanked her for her words that she had spoken on the last visit.

She then started to tell me about myself and the gallery again.
Part of me wanted her to go away and the other part wanted to hear everything that she uttered. I felt frightened but awed.
Many people would just call me gullable.
Most of what she had to say about the gallery helped my thoughts, and I believed her.
A little of what she said about myself worried me, but I believed that also.
After all when someone tells you that you are tired, what's not to believe?
Before she left she stopped to admire and caress a 'Celtic Hare' sculpture that we have.
"I love this", she said then left.
This time I was determined to see if she walked past the smaller windows as she walked away,
but the telephone rang and I looked away, so I don't know.
As I mentioned before I felt that if I had gone to the door and looked out on the street there would be no one there.
But then again if I didn't have an active imagination I wouldn't be doing this for a living.

So, the real reason for writing this is because I know that in just a few days things are going to start getting very busy for me.
Another exhibition, not until mid April, but between now and then there is so much to do.
Apart from lots of travelling, designing invitations and a catalogue there is a lot of photography to do. Most of it for the exhibition but also some pictures for myself.

Really they are for an image library but they will be my sort of photographs.
They are sending me six Elizabethan costumes which I have to use for period photographs.
So if there is anyone out there size 10, please get in touch.

This all means that my chances of showing other works here is going to be very limited,
so here are a few things that have been on my mind and in my heart.

As you must know by now, I am passionate about the 'Stone Lithographs' by Michael Parkes.
These he no longer produces as the press on which they were printed no longer exists, as a
result the work that was available has been disappearing very rapidly, so much so that he has
even offered up for sale his own personal collection just to appease the worldwide demand.
Amongst these are a few that had long ago become unavailable, so when I was offered a chance to reserve a few of "his" pictures what could I do.
So now to my delight and great pleasure I will have a few [very few] very rare pieces by him
hanging on the gallery walls.
What a delight, and privilege.
I know that I can't afford one but just for a while they will belong to me.

Some other pictures that I have been aching to have here on show for a long while
are the works of Kate Leiper.
At last after a two year wait I placed the first piece in the window today.
"Mine at last"? Six hours later it was gone.
Still for a short while it was mine to look at, touch and savour and not many people have had that pleasure.
I do have a few others by her and if there is time tomorrow I will frame and hang those.
A lot of her art is centred around "Cats & Dogs" and those are the one's that I love.
Today the picture that sold was called
'Crossing Black Shucks Path", which is based on a local legend.
What makes this unusual is that it was painted by someone at the other end of the country.
Here in Suffolk we all know of the "Black Shuck".
There are many tales, myths and stories about him, but this is my own favourite.

Many, many years ago [before we were even young]
there was a great storm at sea near a place called Walberswick on the Suffolk coast.
A ship braving the storms and unable to reach harbour was overturned and sank,
with all the crew drowned.
Everyone dead, except the ships dog.
The sailors bodies were cast up on the long stretch of beach.
Some at one end and the rest far away at the other end of that long beach.
The poor dog was lost in grief, his friends were gone.
He wanted to lay with their drowned bodies, but how could he with that
distance between them?
So he ran, and ran, and ran.
From one end of the beach to the other so that he could be with his different comrades,
laying a while with some then running back to lay beside the others.
Stricken with grief, and running forever.

Today, many years later it is said that in the evening you can still see the poor dog
running along the beach, searching for his lost friends,
but if you see him whatever you do
"don't cross his path".
Of course this and all the other legends surrounding him are total nonsense.
If you believe that sort of thing you will end up listening to a gipsy's fortune telling.

Above, two of my beautiful Michael Parkes lithographs.
Some of Kate's dogs, of course the last one being that evil creature of legend.
Black Shuck.

Thursday 3 March 2011

Whenever we have an exhibition "on the horizon" it seems to become all encompassing.
and as a result many of the new exciting pieces of work that we have
seem to get overlooked for a short while.
This isn't by choice it is just caused by the worry of the forthcoming event.

But, what is happening outside the exhibition and future events always seem to occupy my mind, no matter what is going on and however busy I am.
I suppose at all times I am excited about the future and what we will be doing next.
It is the anticipation of the unknown, or at least the unknown response to what we will display.

Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I can get excited about things that will be happening in the future with the knowledge that others will be equally excited.
For instance, the forthcoming exhibition of Maureen Minchin's ceramics.
I know that there will be a huge response.
Also other occasions, when different artworks arrive with no great "fanfare" but which are perhaps more important in the scheme of things than the exhibitions that we hold and which I know the public will love and respond to.

Two instances instantly come to mind,
but one will have to wait until tomorrow before I talk of that.

I know that many, many people out there know of the work by Rima Staines.
She is almost famous without being known.
No, that's wrong. She is famous, but in a strange way, and she is certainly very well known,
but not perhaps in the "all" important art world.
She is a gypsy, a 'will o' the wisp'', a "free spirit", a very unusual woman and an incredible artist.
She has legions of fans and followers worldwide and has perhaps "the" most followed blog, but what is amazing is that we were the first gallery to exhibit her exciting and very varied work.
To describe what she does would take hours, everything from watercolour to wood.
Paintings, drawings,games, sculptures and even films.

Initially it took an age to "track her down" as she was living in a "house on wheels" travelling the country.
It wasn't a camper or a caravan it literally was a wooden cottage on wheels, something I had heard of but didn't appreciate until I visited for "tea" one summer evening in a Suffolk field.
It was hard to appreciate that in a few days time this cottage in its idyllic location would be gone. No longer would you sip tea and eat strawberry's looking out of the 'stable doors' at a lake but would perhaps instead be viewing a Welsh mountain.
It had such a feeling of permanence it was hard to believe that it could travel.
But travel it did, until one day it stopped.
She stopped, and stayed in Devon.

I feel very privileged to be allowed to show her work from time to time, as she doesn't need any gallery to sell her art as most is pre-sold, but she always participates in any themed exhibition that we hold.
So it will be this May, when we open
'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'.
I have no idea of what we will receive, but I do know that it will be very unusual, and beautiful.

But exhibition pieces aside, I have been lucky enough to persuade her to work with us on a longer term basis, producing a small series of 'hand embellished' prints unique for us [and her].
The pictures have been chosen from a few of my own favourites of her paintings,
each is printed on textured watercolour paper, is hand finished, signed and totally unique.
Edition size 0f only 33 worldwide.
Of course the odd number of thirty three could only come from Rima's imagination.

I do have other things that I want to talk of but they can wait,
so just for now here are few of her prints.

Tuesday 1 March 2011

I'm in "post exhibition" recovery mode at the moment.
Last weekend was the opening of our latest exhibition, 'Wings of Hope' when we showed the paintings of Lindsey Carr and the sculptural ceramics by Anne Morrison.
Both artists from Glasgow, both artists so very different.
In some ways it may have seemed a strange partnership but their work was so different that
there was no overlap or competition between them or their work.
Lindsey's paintings very complex, detailed and very different from any other.
Anne's very gentle, but so robust ceramic forms, strong and very understated.
The common ground between them is that they both tell stories through their art.

The paintings seem as if they are fragments of a story, almost like pages torn from a book,
leaving questions in the mind of "what happens next".
The ceramics, some with lettering and even pictures on the surface, spoke for themselves.
Although I am sure that some of what they speak of will be interpreted differently by us all.

Luckily for me I had Lindsey here so I was able to ask, and didn't need to put my own interpretations on her work, and I must admit that the temptation is here to start telling about individual pictures but for that I don't have enough time.
In fact this short post is part of my "catching up" process, because as usual many important
and pressing things have been put aside while I concentrated upon the opening.
In fact the gallery was closed several times the week before as I had to take time out to frame
a few of the paintings, something that takes me far too long as I don't do it very often.
Irene was away and Sam [our son] had other things to get on with, so it was left for me to do it myself, something that I both enjoyed and hated.
I just didn't have enough time to enjoy myself doing something different because while I was
occupied the gallery stood empty, that I hated
The strange thing is, it seemed to generate more sales as a result of it.
I was besieged with mail [and still am] about the exhibition, the interest has been incredible
and as a result when it came to the opening a lot of pieces of the work had reserves on them.
So maybe this should tell me something.

Because I have shown paintings by Lindsey to you before I decided that I must take a few minutes to give you a peek at a few of the ceramic pieces by Anne, otherwise this week will disappear under a pile of paperwork and mails and when I find time again to do another post
most likely I will be concerned or excited about something else.
In fact I am, in fact a lot of things.
"But first things first".

It was one piece by Anne that gave birth to the title of the exhibition, it seemed to be a common
area shared by both artists
Both ceramics and paintings showed them. On one of Anne's forms were the words:
"When evil arrows fly around
Hold fast to Wings of Hope"
To me this became symbolic, and so the exhibition title was formed.

Another of her beautiful winged form had the words:
"Bind up your broken wings and let your dreams fly free".

This is both beautiful yet sad, as it was made in memory of a potter who died not too long ago.
I know many people used to follow and enjoy his own blog.
It is strange, I have just checked, and there his blog is, still for us all to read.
But it is now stuck forever at one date.
His last entry showing pictures taken on one of his walks, together with his dog.
Then the blog, like life, just ends.

So it was lovely that Anne had been moved enough by this man to make this beautiful piece of sculpture and that we have it here to show.

Above is 'The Wings of Hope' sculpture, followed by a picture showing how Lindsey frames a lot of her paintings, the other pieces are of course by Anne.