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, 13 August 2011

After spending the last three weeks travelling around the country it feels nice to have my life back again. Although the various trips have been fun and as a result the gallery is full of new treasures.
Too many things have happened in a short time so there are lots of tales to tell about many artists that I have met recently, and I admit my memories and thoughts are getting muddled and are overlapping a little bit, so perhaps it is easiest for me just to mention my very last visit.
This was to Liverpool where I was going to collect work from the amazing sculptor
Emma Rodgers.

We have been privileged to have been showing Emma's work for a number of years, I can't remember when I first spoke with her but I do remember I was nervous.
Perhaps I need to explain that Emma is something of a legend in ceramic circles, and indeed if
you were to talk of sculptors with most potters you will find that most have only heard of two
and one of those will be Emma.
As first and foremost she is a ceramic sculptor.
So in a small circle she is very famous.
Moving beyond the ceramic circle you find that she has even greater worldwide recognition.
She no longer works exclusively with clay, most of her work now is cast in bronze and is in great demand with collectors around the world, but of course as everyone knows once you have touched clay then you are hooked for life, so she still does produce ceramic sculptures and these are the pieces I cherish the most.
Just imagine how it feels to hold a sculpture by such a well known person knowing that
"this is the only piece in the world", it isn't one of an edition but is truly unique.
Knowing that these are the things that I like whenever I call Emma she will ask
"tell me what sort of pieces you want".
Usually that will be "A Rook and anything else you have, like another Rook".
Of course she does send us some of these but being a little wiser than myself she will intersperse them with other lovely pieces.

I will admit her work fits into the "love it or hate it" arena and we sometimes have the occasional idiot visiting the gallery complaining that they are too disturbing, but more frequently people are overcome by the shear power and emotion in her work.
She is such a very clever and fascinating lady and I am lucky enough to know her a little.

I was travelling to see her after attending the last day of a ceramic show 'Art in Clay'.
This show is a must on my yearly calendar as I know many of the artists showing there and it is
always an opportunity to collect new work and talk with old friends.
So with the rain pouring down and the show coming to a close I packed the car with the new work I had collected, set my 'SatNav' for Liverpool and set of for what was to be a very interesting visit.

Although I have wanted to for a long while I had never visited Emma's studio before and I was both excited and slightly nervous about the prospect.
Excited because it was going to be a new experience and nervous because I was frightened of doing or saying the wrong things, and as a result scaring her away.
This sounds stupid but I find I feel like it a lot when I am visiting someone who I really admire.
Perhaps it's because you are visiting what is their most personal and private space, and that deserves a lot of respect and I don't want to spoil that for them in anyway.

I needn't have worried with Emma, firstly she is such an easy going down to earth person,
secondly, as soon as I arrived she bundled me back into the car
and took me off to another work space of hers.
A foundry.
I have only visited such a place once before and found it fascinating, this time even more so
as the whole making process was explained to me by Emma and her friend the owner.

For some time she has been working in this strange and totally non private work space, for the new sculpture that she is creating is on a very grand scale and had it been built at her studio then it couldn't have been transported.
So in this giant industrial building this small woman [not frail] has been working away in a corner, building a most beautiful sculpture from wax.
So involved in her work was she that within minutes of introducing me to the casting team
she was standing at the sculpture adding and smoothing lumps of wax.
Oblivious to what was happening around her she stood in her raincoat with handbag still on her shoulder deeply engrossed with her art.
She only paused and then stopped when I asked how the finished piece will look.

How to describe it.

I think all I can really do is to show a photograph of it when it is finished and in "situ" on a small hillside in the county of Shropshire.
It is a running woman with a long trailing dress under which is sheltering and running with her
a hare. I believe her name is Melangell and she is protecting the hare from the huntsman.
Although very large in scale, even at this stage the sculpture looked light and very delicate.
I have promised myself that one day I will visit the site were it is to be installed, I can just imagine it in a winters mist, the woman running down the hill with her ten foot bronze dress flowing behind her. Still that's for another day.

So rushing on and missing out my tour of Liverpool and our conversation, I did eventually
visit Emma's own private and very intimate studio.
It was almost like a small museum, every surface and wall space was covered by the many varied objects and stuffed animals that inspire her.
I will return and tell you of one incredible sculpture that I had journeyed to collect
but rather than use more words I will just show some snapshots of her studio.

I intend to visit that place again, but next time there will be no nervousness as Emma had made me so welcome, showed me so much and given me such an incredible glimpse into her world.

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