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.

Monday 25 July 2011

It is impossible to run a gallery and show the very personal work of different artists and just treat it just as a normal job.
What they are making, what they are up to in life and their well being is something that becomes very important.
Basically, I suppose what I am trying to say is that they become your friends.
Without intention and usually with just the occasional meeting they become very important to me. In fact I admit with some it perhaps goes too far and we argue, sulk,
and sometimes even fall out for a while.
I think it is all because what they produce is so important to them and then in the same way becomes important to me.
I can't think of any other group of people or individuals [outside my family] whose lives have ever become so entwined with my own.

Many days I will have go through my mind
"I haven't heard from XXXXXXX for a while, I hope they are OK".
But as Irene has explained to me many times they have their own lives to lead, and just because
they haven't called for a recent chat doesn't mean anything.
I think that is the way it works with friendship, and I certainly know that with some artists
the fact that we don't talk often means nothing, they know I think about them and vice versa.

Perhaps this applies to one artist more than most.
He is Mark Rowney.
In fact I have a vague memory that he was the subject of my first ever post and if I had the time he would be the subject of many more, or perhaps even a book, as there is so much to tell.
The short story is that Mark was raised as the son of a cowboy
on a Ranch in North Yorkshire.
You don't see many of those nowadays [if ever].
The rest as they say is history, or a least a very long story.

After many adventures [and even more careers], in various countries he eventually
settled down to a life of being an artist back in the County where he was born.
But what an artist he had become, his unusual life has left him with a wealth of varied talents,
from his stunning paintings on wood to his equally amazing leather carvings.
We are fortunate that he allows us to show a variety of his different works and I am never sure what I love more, in fact I am not even going to try and compare them.
I love them equally
It is a little like having two or three artists who share the same name.

Towards the end of next year we are going to be holding a solo show of his work,
something that I am really looking forward to, and what is nice so is Mark, the event will be
a pleasure for us both [and a great excuse to have a pint and a good chat].
He is one of those people that when we occasionally talk the conversation will be something like
"I was thinking about what you said........................."
and this would have been something we may have been talking about months before.
So it is always a pleasure to hear from Mark, and today more than most.

Last week marked the opening of a new gallery in North Yorkshire, well not really a gallery,
a complex of artist studios plus a gallery area which caters for every kind of artist
from painters, sculptors, blacksmith's to recording artists.
The new studios were to be opened by His Royal Highness Prince Edward and it was felt that to mark the occasion he should be presented with a special gift,
something that spoke of the art of the region.
Of course the artist chosen was Mark Rowney.

His gift.

A book, carved from leather and which took a month to create.
None of this I was aware of until today when I received a "what I've been up to" mail
from Mark, written as usual in his casual unassuming way.
He included a few pictures of the book covers and himself with Prince Edward.
What struck me as really important is that the work [books] he has sent to me are equally
as beautiful and must have taken the same time to make as each was special for our gallery.

So Prince Edward is a fortunate man but I think he was aware of that as he has promised Mark that he intends to write in it regularly [it is a journal], and I am sure he will.

The one difference between "his" meeting with Mark and my own is I doubt that Mark asked

"have you got time for a swift pint before you go mate".

But knowing Mark nothing would surprise me.

Above are a picture of the front and back cover, followed by the bookends
[note the Royal Crest on the butterfly].
Then Mark with H.R.H. Prince Edward, with some of Marks incredible leather pictures
in the background.
I'm not positive but I'm pretty sure that in the last picture Mark is saying

" you sure you wont have just a quick half then, I'm buying "?

Or maybe it's only me that is lucky enough to receive those special invitations.
Well done Mark.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Should I do a short post, or none at all?
When I am in the mood and have the time I enjoy clearing my cluttered mind and writing about things, but there are times [most times] when I haven't the time as there always seems to be "just one" more important thing to get done before giving myself the luxury of writing.
Little things, like answering a telephone every five minutes.

Hey! I spoke with an artist [Jackie Morris] yesterday and she has told me that she is getting the patent on a "bouncy phone", one you can throw at the wall went it rings constantly.
She has one definite sale here.
I love the thought of throwing it out of the door and shouting after it "and don't come back".
It's nice to dream.
So I am going for the short post.

At the moment we are holding an exhibition featuring the work of four different artists.
I have already shown some of the ceramics we are showing by John Bedding
and without a doubt I will show others in another post.
They really are some of the best pots that I have seen for a very long time, pictures just don't do justice to their beauty, plus the scale that he works at is unbelievable.
From very small through to gigantic pieces and what is unusual is that he can enlarge the scale of a pot yet still keep its form and beauty, something that not too many potters are able to do nowadays, sometimes it seems to be a case of "it's big so it must be good" but for me that doesn't work, big isn't always better but in John's case it is.
They look dynamic, and I don't say that lightly, it just looks as if I am going to have to purchase one for myself.
Decisions, decisions, what a lovely dilemma to have with his work.

John's ceramics are not the only beautiful things that we are showing, there are many different
pieces of art on show.
Some by a man I have been wanting to show for a long, long time and now at last his work is here and I can really appreciate the beauty of it.
Jan Morgan is the artist, a sculptor.
What I so love about his work, apart from the skill involved is the narrative in each piece.
I love story telling, in fact I think we all do, and when I look at Jan's sculptures my mind races
off on different journeys making up different tales that end frozen at a point in time which is
what Jan has captured.
His idea of presentation is second to none and I just know that we are going to see and hear a lot more about his art in years to come.
For now they are mine to enjoy.

Apart from the exhibition which I shall return to, I have a lot on at the moment.
It is coming to that time of year when almost every artist in every genre's is showing at some
large event somewhere in the country, and of course they are usually far apart.
So I have the calendar on the desk covered in dates and locations.
Some I will make others I will regret missing so I just have to hope that I make the right choice of locations and artists to visit.
At least it will give me a legitimate excuse for a mini holiday, with time to think and plan.
Driving for hours isn't fun but at least it enables me to think over future plans and ideas.
Of future plans?
We have a massive one taking shape at the moment.
Now, that really will be a long post [or many] for the near future.

What a tease I am.

Saturday 2 July 2011

Thinking about things that I should have written about, but didn't get around to I thought that I might show you some art that has really been occupying my mind and getting me excited.
"Thaddeus Erdahl".

The wonderful thing about the Internet and blogging for me is that it opens up the whole world,
so no longer do I feel that I have to chase after the over exposed English artists, I can now look and lust after work on a worldwide scale.
Can you imagine just how frustrating that is?
There are lots of artists out there but every now and then I am able to discover
something that is to me "real gold".
As I have said many times, everything that I show is for my enjoyment and pleasure.
It is these pieces of art that sell for me, maybe it is because like minded people come into the gallery knowing that they might find something they are searching for, or maybe it is because I talk more [non stop] about the things I love.
Not to try and sell them, just so that I can try and make people appreciate them as I do.
The trouble is it that it usually works and then that particular piece disappears to a new home.

So back to my current love and obsession.
The incredible, strange, disturbing, beautiful and so well crafted sculptures by Thaddeus.

I can't remember how I discovered him [he wasn't lost, I just found him],
but I am so pleased that I have.
One day before too long some of his strange work will be here on display,
and for me that day can't be too soon.
As soon as they arrive I will show you our strange new treasures, but until then this is a sample
of what I hope will arrive one day.
It seems so odd, these works coming from a place I haven't been to and from an artist I haven't met, but it also seems so normal.
We have met, in a different way, and do know a little of each other and it is the fact that we both love the same things that makes it all seem so normal.

Friday 1 July 2011

With such a long gap it's hard to know where to start, the longer it has become the more I have felt inclined to leave it "until another day".
The realisation that another day means "sometime never", made me decide to focus a little and at least write something, so for what it's worth here it is.

I find it hard to believe that we have gone from one exhibition to almost another and that I have written nothing about daily events.
They couldn't have been that interesting, I tell myself.
A new exhibition is almost upon us, I admit that this has caught me out a little because for some reason I thought that I had another week until I had a call from my printer asking me
"are you sure you don't need these invitations sooner".
Blimey, I did, what was I thinking of.
So at least they have arrived in time, been sent out, and as as a result I have become a lot more focused.

For the first time ever we are going to hold a "Summer Exhibition".
I have always thought that these sort of titles were a bit of a "cop out" and I have interpreted
Summer/Autumn/Winter/Spring exhibitions as meaning
"this is all we have, we can't think of anything so come and buy it anyway".
So to think that the day would come when I would do such a thing was unbelievable.
Until that is I decided that there were a few artists whose work I was longing to show but they, or us weren't in the position to have a solo exhibition.
I struggled to find a name or a reason to hold an exhibition involving them all until in the end the answer came. "Summer Exhibition".
Well it is summer, and these are people that I really want to show, and will do again in the future with solo exhibitions of their own.

The first person whose work I am showing you is a St. Ives potter named John Bedding.

I have mentioned before that once I was a potter.
This is back in the days before potters shows and similar events existed, then the only way you could sell work was from the workshop [studio is the name now] or in a gallery.
In those days there was only one major ceramic gallery and that was called the Craftsmen Potters Association.
Since then they have gone upmarket and are now called Contemporary Ceramics.
After all how can you have the word "craftsmen" when females are involved.
I wonder how long before someone decides that there are racial issues and the name will have to change again. Sometimes, "just sometimes" changes seem so silly and seemed to be aimed at idiots and bigots, where has innocence gone?
Anyway, since I am not standing for a place in Parliament I had better move on.

Back in those days everyone was given a six month probation period in the C.P.A. in case the quality of your work dropped, or just in case the pots you were accepted by were the only six good pieces you had ever made, if on re-appraisal it was felt you weren't delivering the goods then you were out.
Of course nowadays you are in for life no matter what you go on to make afterwards.
So of course it is obvious that after being accepted I was then kicked out six months later.

Of course I would love to talk about this at great length, and would love to name the committee
members of those days.
But am I going to be childish?
No, I will leave that for another day.

The result was that my sales disappeared, and I couldn't sell enough from the pottery to support a young family.
If only those pottery shows around the country existed then my life would be different now.
Not better, just different.

Now it has all turned around and potters ask "what do galleries do"?
I have just showed at the "Potters, potters and more potters" show [or similar] last week and I made a bundle,
Who needs a gallery?

Alas, as a young man this wasn't the case and with the need to provide for a family I closed my pottery and took a job in London that paid a real wage.
But I remember my last night as a potter.
I took my dog for a walk on the Essex marshes where we lived, sitting down with him on a small hillock I looked back into the distance at the pottery.
The roof tiles glowing deep red with the setting sun, and I could see the tip of the kiln chimney.

I tiled that roof, it had been a derelict barn open to the elements before I restored it from the ground up.
It was a silly thing to do as it was rented from the local Church and would never be mine, but sometimes you do silly things if it makes you happy, and having that workshop gave me a lot of happiness. A lot of heartache, but it made me happy.
So with my arm around my dog I looked back at a dream, then took him home and turned my back on pottery.
For many years, I had no interest in pots, or potters. Indeed I wished never to see a pot again.
We had a family holiday at St Ives in Cornwall.
Every evening we would walk down to the waterfront, get bags of chips a feed seagulls,
all those usual holiday things. What wasn't usual is that each evening we had to pass the window of a pottery, of course I would stop and look and remember the past, but as the week past I realised that I really loved these pots, and one bottle in particular.
It was different to anything I had ever seen and really stirred all of the emotions that had been long buried, I really wanted to own it.
On the last day of our stay we went to have our last fish supper, this time the pottery was open.
Irene went in and purchased for me the pot I liked so much.
It was by a potter named John Bedding, an apprentice of the famous potter Bernard Leach.

This pot changed my life.
I fell back in love with ceramics, and is perhaps the reason we are here today with a gallery.

John Bedding's pots are going to form part of our Summer Exhibition.
Next year he will be back with a solo exhibition.

So it is really mixed and personal emotions that I will showing his work.
I love it.