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?