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 15 December 2012

 Most of the time I enjoy visiting different artists, it gives me the opportunity to choose the pieces of work that I feel are most suited to our gallery, but more importantly it gives me a little
insight into the world of that maker / creator.
It enables me to have a greater understanding of why they create what they do,
plus also on many occasions I get to see their source of inspiration.
I feel very fortunate to have these opportunities and it really helps when talking with prospective 
purchasers who have not been as fortunate, but who still desire to have first hand knowledge
of the artist.

 So my many trips around the country are usually something that I enjoy, plus the solitude
of a long drive gives me the opportunity to think through problems.
Believe me there are many when running a gallery.
My journeys take me to many places around our island and as a result I have come to regard many places as "home", or at least I feel comfortable in that region, town or even hotel.
But there are occasional exceptions.

 About three weeks ago I experienced one of these.
I wanted to visit various sculptors who happened to be showing together in Herefordshire,
it was a good idea to visit as I could reduce three trips down to one.

Unfortunately, but as usual for me I left all of my travel arrangements until the evening before I left.
Never again, this time I have learnt my lesson and I will try never, ever to repeat it.
I booked a room at a hotel in the town Leominster which was the closest location that I could find to my destination as I had left it so late.
The pictures on the "hotel" web site looked pretty good, and I admit that I did pat myself on the back and thought "well done John, you know how to find them".

Trouble was when I arrived on a cold foggy night at 10.00pm I couldn't find the hotel.
I have come to really trust my 'satnav' but this time it let me down
as it brought me to an 'Indian takeaway' restaurant which was situated next to a very "sleazy" pub.

I parked the car and wandered the streets trying to find the hotel,
I confess I didn't wander far as the area that I was situated in seemed "slightly" dangerous,
it felt like there was violence [and a kebab shop] at every corner so I decided to take 'satnav'
on trust and walked back to the 'takeaway'.
There I explained that I was looking for a certain hotel [no names mentioned].
I was told by two people that there was no such place, then a young woman of ethnic origin called out "yes, yes sir this is us".
Oh shit.

It turns out that the website photographs were images of various hotels,
none of them being the "doss" hole that I was to stay in.

 I have never slept above an Indian takeaway before and please God I never stay above this one again.
This was "the" most frightening night of my life.

I was given a key and directed up many stairways and corridors which brought me to a plywood door.
Inside was my "apartment".
I have no pictures to show as I left my camera, cloths and everything dear to me in the car
as I didn't want anything tainted by this place.
Filthy, frightening and vile would be the nicest thing that I can say about this room.
The windows were broken and covered with tape, the bed was stained
[I don't even want to think with what]
and the "bathroom" had blood splashed up the wall.
Why did I stay you may ask?
I don't know myself, but it was too late at night to find an alternative, I should have slept in the car
I now know, so I can only plead stupidity.

The door had no lock so I wedged a chair against it and lay on the bed fully clothed,
then prayed for sleep.

Of course I survived as I am here to tell the abbreviated story.
But never again, in future I will plan ahead [at least a day] and I hope that a night like that 
never happens to me [or you] again.

Was it worth it?
Some of it was some of it wasn't.

Above are a few of the reasons that made it so [there are others but I lack the pictures].

The porcelain work by Tony Laverick really is sensational, it really is translucent,
when a light shines inside it just glows.
He really is an excellent craftsman, plus one of the nicest, honest gentleman I have dealings with, 
I would like him even if I didn't love his "wafer" thin porcelain.

The smoke fired ceramics by Christine Gittins were also a good reason for the journey.

But of course not all good work requires a "night from Hell".
Jan Mayle [a very old friend] brings her ceramic figures here to the gallery for me to choose from.
This year she has excelled with her gentle [old looking] winter pieces.
Just what was needed for our ice cold December.

There have been other visits, some good some not,
I might tell you, might not,
but at least with them I was able to sleep in a bed not on it.

I must go now, for some reason I have the urge to have a bath.

Oh! The things I do for art.

Monday 10 December 2012

I don't think that I ever got around to mentioning that our Christmas Exhibition has opened,
in fact it has been running for a couple of weeks, which may seem a little early
but we find that each year the serious buyers tend to come in early and it is only people
[mainly husbands] that have come to purchase that piece which their partners have been hinting
about for a long time that visit us late in the month.

Even then they don't usually purchase what they have been sent to buy,
instead the choose for themselves hoping that it isn't noticed.
One year we had a man arrive on Christmas Eve who had been sent to purchase a sculpture of a Peacock for his wife.
She had visited several times to look at the sculpture and she even told me
"I am having that for Christmas".
Instead she received a sculpture [it was good] of an Owl that her husband wanted and just knew
"she will love it".
She must have as she never came in to exchange it as I expected.
It must have been true love, either that or she hit him with it. 

Anyway, I have neglected to write about what I have been collecting and receiving over the past few weeks. I know it seems a little late to mention things now but if I don't it will
be another year and I will be concerned about other events.
Actually, it's not too late as we still have various pieces of art on their way to us, some from Australia
which I hope to show if they arrive safely and in time.

So here is just a brief mention of the pieces we have which are shown here.

The first two paintings have been long in the waiting and the creating,
as a result I wanted them even more and almost gave up on ever actually seeing them.
The artist Timothy Walton is a very busy man
and an artist of many skills, apart from being a painter he is also a master of visual effects 
for the cinema.
I doubt that any of us have not witnessed some of his work without ever knowing it.
He has worked on many famous motion pictures, such as:
Ghandi, The Killing Fields, Superman, The Mission, Stardust, Batman..........
the list goes on.
Most recently and for most of this year he has been working on
Les Miserables.
It was while he was working on this that he contacted me asking
"would I consider showing his paintings"?

"Would I"?
Yes please, I absolutely loved what he had to show me, he really is a talented man.
The paintings that I have just collected were born from his work on "Les Mis".
He worked on the creation of over 240 sky's for the film,
so remember when you go to see it at the cinema and your breath is taken away by a beautiful sunset
you now know who created that scene.
He explained that as he was working on the film he wondered if he could capture the same
feeling and atmosphere in his paintings.
As you can see he has.
Not only are the stunning and full of emotion, they also look so very old,
I was thrilled to find that when I collected them they had a crackle glazed surface,
they made me feel that I was handling something very old.

Now he has a little time to himself he has promised to create another two or three.
I know that I will write more about Tim and his art in the months to come.

Another piece of work that I have longed to exhibit is the wood carved Hare by Chris Hindley.
I first came across this piece a few months ago and was disappointed
to learn that it had been promised to a very famous London gallery for an exhibition
to be held in January.
But like a "dog with a bone" I wouldn't let it go and I am thrilled to say that my persistence
eventually made Chris give in and send it to me.

You can see why I wanted it.
It is beautiful, gentle and so very childlike.
For me it is a 'Kit Williams' painting brought to life. It is one of the nicest sculptures we have shown.

The last two pictures are of prints by George Underwood.
I know that I have gone on about him a lot recently but I just had to share these with you.
Like all of the art that I love they tell a story,
I'm not sure what the story is and I'm sure my interpretation of them would be different to his,
and maybe yours, but that is the pleasure of them,
they make you think, imagine and dream.

Monday 26 November 2012

I will attempt to conclude the story from the last post, although this will be a very shortened version.
Firstly because I have attempted to write it four times and have been unsuccessful because
'Blogger' has changed since I last posted and I now have great difficulty placing images.
Secondly, because Irene tells me that every time I tell this story she can see people falling asleep.
I don't care I like the story, but I promise to keep it short.

So, above you can see the different work by three very talented artist's,
George Underwood, Terry Pastor and David Bowie.
Three artists sharing a common link.
As I mentioned before George grew up and went to school with David Bowie, in fact it is because of an incident in their schooldays that Bowie [I don't know him well enough to call him David]
has an unusual appearance.
Two different coloured eyes, have you ever noticed that? Most people have.

At the age of fourteen they fought over a girl, well they didn't really fight,
George just punched Bowie in the face, something to do with a few "fibs" being told and the girl being
lured away from George. I can understand him being upset, especially as he asked her for a 'date' first.
The full story can be found online, with accounts from them both, I won't bother to give you my account as I am sure to add a few little pieces of my own just to make it even more interesting.

So, there is David Bowie on the floor with a hand over his eye, all for the love of a girl.
The result was eight months off school, two operations and different coloured eyes.
You might think that this ended the friendship, but no it continues to this day.

George went onto become the artist I admire and Bowie the musical legend we all know of.
Their friendship and combined talents brought them together much later in life when Bowie
recorded the album Hunky Dory.

Lets face it if you want a good piece of artwork you might as well ask an artist you know, admire
and trust to produce it.
We are talking something like 1973, a time when George was sharing a studio with an artist named
Terry Pastor.
Terry was something of [and still is] a master craftsman with an airbrush, a tool that was needed to
produce this unusual yet simple album cover.
George explained to him that his mate David needed some artwork done and asked Terry would he do
the airbrushing that was needed?

The album produced hits such as 'Changes', 'Life on Mars' and 'Oh!  You Pretty Things.'
So it would be safe to say that it was a bit of a success.

Bowie followed this with 'Ziggy Stardust'.
He had liked the previous artwork so much he went back to see his friend and his partner and
requested some of the same magic be used again.
The result?
Well, I think we all know that.
The album made David Bowie a world star and the album cover is hailed as being the second most iconic cover ever produced. The Beatles 'Abbey Road' being the first.

In recent years the cover has made Terry something of a celebrity, it has even been used as a Royal Mail stamp. It seems that hardly a week passes without Terry appearing on radio, television or
in a magazine.
The amazing thing is that he is now my friend, plus a neighbour.
Once or twice every week he calls in to have a chat, and although I know him I still can't resist asking
for stories about the 'old days' when we were all young and life was innocent and fun.

Terry has produced a special limited edition set of [just 10] prints using an
'out take' of the Hunky Dory cover. We always have one of these plus much of his other work on show in the gallery. 

We also now have a copy of the painting that George produced of the original cover.
This was painted as a gift for David but became lost for nearly 37 years until George discovered it
recently, while he was clearing his garage.
It went on sale a few weeks ago in London, priced at £16,000,
But our version is a little bit more affordable and is one of the first prints produced.

How strange it all seems to me.
What would I have thought all those years ago when I was in my 'den' listening to my latest
purchase [Hunky Dory] with my girlfriend [Irene] if someone had said:
"One day when you are much, much older, you and your wife Irene will have a gallery and you
will be showing this album cover on the wall".
Life can be hard and a little bit funny but sometimes it can be fun and brings surprises.

The wonderful picture by George is called 'The Three Muses Return'
[actually they have gone again as I have just sold it].
Terry's new version of the old album cover is of course called.
"Oh! You Pretty Things".

Wednesday 7 November 2012

I have a feeling that this will have to become a two part post as different things that are happening in the gallery all blend, and together they make for an interesting story.
I think it's called serendipity.
But I do intend to write about lots of things but it never seems to happen, so let's see.

The picture above will form a little piece of our Christmas exhibition.
It was painted by the artist that I mentioned before.
George Underwood
It is a painting that I absolutely love, it ticks all of the right boxes in my imagination, desires and loves.
Oh! How I would love to own that picture, unfortunately someone else does but the image will still be
here for sale in a couple of weeks, well that is the plan.

As usual I seem to be fully occupied preparing for another exhibition,
which at times seems to be my full time job.
As soon as one is finished I seem to be behind on preparations for the next, but I suppose with the next
one I should have no excuses, after all Chistmas happens every year.
So the last week has seen me busy trying to prepare a full page advertisement for the coming show.

Having been involved in advertising for most of my life I now feel very cynical about it, in fact I am
sure that it is on the whole pretty ineffective, but it is certainly a quick way to get rid of any money
For me the only adverts that work are the simple bold ones with strong images, the sort of thing that makes you pause as you are turning the page of a magazine.
So by choice I would just show a picture and no text.
Idiot that I am, even I understand that might be a bad idea, so I just go for minimal text.
So with great anticipation I was looking forward to the pictures of the paintings from George,
I just knew that he would have something I could use, and of course he did.

He sent me many pictures, all of them beautiful, but.
There was one painting I was in love with and which I felt had a seasonal feeling about it, but understanding that we would have nothing of this to show I prepared another advert after
spending hours deliberating over his many beautiful paintings.

I really liked my final choice and felt sure that it would have an impact, then, just as I was about to send it to the publisher the image I was besotted with arrived from the artist.
So it was back to the drawing board and four hours later our overdue Christmas advertisement was sent off, next time to be seen in a magazine.

The picture I chose is called 'Of the Lowlands', it features the angelic looking Knight.
I was so happy that my original choice was going to be printed, and then things got even better.
The next day the publisher contacted me to ask if they could use one of George's other paintings for the front cover, they attached an example of how the cover would look.
My Christmas had come early.
They were going to use 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' painting of David Bowie.
All in all not a bad result and certainly one that should attract a "little" interest.

I don't think that it is hard to understand why I am excited about this particular artist,
his paintings speak for themselves.
Unusual, beautiful and all with a story to tell [one of your choosing].

It now seems [fingers crossed] that we will have for sale a limited edition signed print, [10 only]
of my favourite painting, an edition that will be unique to Imagine Gallery.
There is still much to be done and the quality has to be vetted by the artist, so let's see.

I must admit that none of this is what I had intended to write but as you know I get easily distracted,
so maybe now the two part post will have to be a three part post, or perhaps an abbreviated version of what might have been.

The clue is the David Bowie painting.
Not only is Bowie a great collector of Georges paintings but they also went to school together.
That really is a story for another day, and perhaps not mine to tell.
But you know how I like to talk.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Winter is definitely here.
Suddenly the days are shorter, darker and colder.
OK, it wasn't exactly sudden but I had been looking forward to having an Autumn.
Summer? They are so last years thing, we don't do them anymore.
Today we have had everything but snow here in the village, but I suppose we are lucky as I know that there has been snow falling nearer the coast.
Of course thinking of snow brings my thoughts back to Christmas, I don't know why it should as somehow nature usually conspires to make snow fall about a week too early or too late, in fact I suppose I really associate 'fog' with Christmas because as a child I remember going shopping for presents [with half a'crown that Mum had given me] and in my memory it was always foggy.
Even that has gone now and the only thing that is 'foggy' is my memory.

Whatever, my thoughts are on Christmas and today like any naughty child I had to open some presents.
Not exactly presents [although they might be for someone] but pieces of art that have arrived for our
festive exhibition.

I'm not sure how these should be described, are they candle holders or books?
"Candlebooks" is how I have labelled them.
Of course they do work as candle holders but both myself and their creator Chris Edwards
perceive them as sculptures.
These sculptures have been a long time in the waiting [and the creating] we discussed them many months ago, always with a Christmas showing in mind and I had thought that they would be in my hands sooner, but I have come to understand that Chis is a craftsman who will not release anything until he and I were both happy with the work.
It should come as no surprise to learn that he had worked as a designer/maker for stage, television and film as everything that he creates tells a story, or at least part of a story.

It was early in spring when we first talked about these pieces, I explained to him that I was looking for something magical, old and 'Dickension' for the window display.
" I know what you mean, "misty, Scrooge like".
We were both thinking the same way.
So many, many months later these 'Candlebooks' eventualy arrived.
They really are old copies of the works by Charles Dickens, although now they and the silver candle holder are one object, plus of course the individual silver "wax" droplets.
Absolute magic and exactly what I was after.

There is only one problem.
I couldn't help myself, today I had to put them on display to gauge the reaction.
Big mistake, I only have three left for Christmas.
Still, as they say "you can only sell them once".
Unfortunately, because now I will have gaps at the exhibition.
Luckily I have just had a late evening telephone conversation with another clever and creative person and I think that now I will have some new sculptures which will be equally as exciting and unusual.
Let's wait and see.

All of the above aside,
I will give one sneak preview by an artist I have yearned to show for a long time.
He created this famous picture [and many others] a long time ago but it is his more recent work that so excites me, and some of these I will show you in the near future.
Until then here is
"The Man Who Fell to Earth" painted by George Underwood.
Although this painting is now a piece of art history when I told George how much I had loved it he said
"I have a "cracking" print of that if you want to show it".
Yes please.

Monday 22 October 2012

"Onwards and upwards".
It seems to be the daily mantra for me.
Having the opening of an exhibition always makes me feel that "now I can take a break",
but that never seems to happen as there is the ever present thought of "what's next"?
Having devoted all of my recent time to one event it now seems that I must forget about that and focus on the next, still at least I have the pleasure of looking at the results of a lot of planning and dreaming
while I am "planning and dreaming" of the next exhibition.
In fact not just the next one, but the one that follows and the one after that.

Which makes me pause for a moment, as I think a few of you may be hearing from me about that,
but, for the moment that is a future worry the one that concerns me and has all of my attention at the moment is our 'Christmas Exhibition'.
Much as there is a great part of me that adores Christmas in a very childlike way I have never before taken the exhibition side of it too seriously as I feel that so many galleries just use it as an umbrella 
under which to "stock up"for the future and that this cheapens the idea of it being an exhibition and is very unfair on the artists.

Maybe that is the right thing to do, who knows?

This year I decided that what I would would do is to treat the Christmas exhibition "very" seriously.
So I decided to contact and to visit artists whose work I really want to show but haven't got the appropriate group show for, or who I couldn't give a solo show to for some time.
This way I felt we could exhibit work I really like sooner rather than later,
plus, they would have to be special pieces as it is Christmas, usually that bring out the best in us all.

As a result I have been travelling again, travelling and collecting.
This time yet again my journey took me far north and meant stopping overnight at different locations.
one of these was of course 'The Green Dragon" in Yorkshire but I will not mention that as I think I have given them perhaps too much publicity in the past.
However if you travel north make sure to stop at..........................................................................!

I went to visit various artists, some we have exhibited before some we haven't, one in particular I have been pestering for some time and who I thought would never succumb to my persuasion.
At last he has, the potter Rob Watson.
He is a very "northern" man, if such a thing exists, he is very "down to earth" and has no interest in celebrity or exhibiting with galleries, he is far happier to just make what pleases him and sell it to the people who make their way to his door.
But at last I have managed to persuade him to show his beautiful pots with us at Christmas.
He is a man who works in many styles and who uses an extensive colour palette.
Those I have shown I chose because I love them, plus the colour is very fitting for the season.

 Another person who I am pleased to be showing is the lovely Jessica Irena.
I have long wanted to have on display one of her 'Mountain Goat" sculptures, at last I shall.
This Glass and bronze sculpture will be shown alongside some of her delicate glass bowls.

I should really be telling you more about the people and my visits with them, but as always this is being written last thing before I leave for the day, and now I have an extra reason to want to get home.
We have a new addition to the family, "Bramble", another Old English Sheepdog puppy.
I say "puppy"but she is growing by the minute and is wrecking the home.
Good thing I'm hiding here at the gallery.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

OK, I told a little white lie.
It is the day after tomorrow that I am showing you the wood carvings by Stephen Henderson.
I am still trying to sort out the photographs but I think they are worth waiting for.

It amazes me that work of such fragile beauty is carved from driftwood and other pieces of wood and metal that have been discarded by the rest of us, things that have cluttered up our lives all find a way to be reborn under the hands of Stephen.
But, then he is in an ideal location for a man of his talents.
He lives in a building that was once an old 'PUB', which is hard to understand as it is in such a remote location with no road that leads to it, just a dirt track that takes you for miles until you arrive at what was once [many years ago] a thriving port.
Perhaps "port" is too grand a word, but it was certainly the centre of a thriving community.
Trading barges used to arrive daily from London, navigating there way up the tidal creek until they arrived at the wharf which is his home.
It is now so desolate and remote with only a few timbers showing where the jetty once was it really is hard to imagine, especially the idea of an Inn in such an uninhabited location.
But "back in the day" the waterside inn must have been a very welcome site after a long journey.

Now the only inhabitants apart from Stephen and his family are birds and water creatures.
These are the source of his art and the materials used to create it are found on his daily walks along
the shore and over the marshes that surround his house.

The home where he was born and has spent his entire life.

Unfortunately I have never taken a photograph of his studio [I'm sure he would call it a workshop],
even though I have visited many times and on every visit with the intention of doing so.
It is a beautiful wooden building set just yards from the creek and with a view that stretches for miles.
"Breathtaking" is a word that comes to mind, every visit I stand mesmerised looking at the scene.

The scene inside the studio is no less dramatic,
apart from the wood burning stove every conceivable table, floor and wall space is covered with sculptures in various stages of creation.
Many finished, some awaiting assembly or painting and many still as crude shapes of wood with outlines sketched upon them.
Outside the door are piles of driftwood, pieces of old boats, weathered timber from various parts of the country and various discarded bits and pieces, all awaiting to be converted into objects of beauty.

With these sculptures alongside the dynamic work by Sam MacDonald,
I just know that I am going to have a few weeks of pleasure enjoying my own private collection.
Of course they aren't mine but until the exhibition they are mine every day.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I think to myself.
"This job is better than working for a living".

Monday 1 October 2012

Without pictures the words mean nothing, so in the absence of images I have as usual posted nothing.
But, now I have some images so I have no excuse for not writing.
As usual I have photographs because we have an impending exhibition, when we will be showing sculptures by two totally different artists, working in different mediums but
whose work has strong links.
There names are Stephen Henderson and Sam MacDonald.
I am still awaiting the arrival of Stephen's art so for the moment I will just show sculptures created by Sam.

I have admired and coveted his work for a very long time and it is with a mixture of pleasure and disappointment that I have watched his career go from strength to strength.
The only reason that I felt disappointment was because the galleries that he was showing at were getting more and more prestigious and I could see that soon he would be someone far out of our reach,
perhaps working to commission only, which is what seems to happen.

But as usual it became a case of the 'bigger' the artist the 'nicer' and more approachable the person.
One thing for sure Sam is very nice and very grounded artist with no hint of an ego,
success and fame is not going to change him
I suppose this should be expected from a lad who comes from Orkney Islands, way up above Scotland
surrounded by the Atlantic.
A wild, remote and beautiful location, a strange beginning for a man now shown in some of
London's most prestigious galleries.
The Orkney's is of course where his love of the sea and its creatures comes from.
Even though he now lives on mainland Scotland his work still very much represents this environment,
but now his sculptures also depict a less dramatic but equally beautiful landscape.

Before the move his sculptures portrayed the Ocean and the culture of the men who worked there, now he is just as likely to be sculpting a pair of trout or Salmon as his work has changed and become more gentle along with his surroundings.
Myself I still love his sculptures that depict the sea, in particular those that show what seems like portions of sunken ships with fish swimming past the empty portholes.
They make me feel that although I will never experience such a thing I have actually witnessed it.

I had long put off contacting him as I could see his career really taking off and taking him
to many grand locations.
But like on many occasions I thought "you don't ask you don't get",
and like many times in the past I "did get" plus I got to know a very nice man as a bonus.
He called me the other day and during the conversation I was thinking
"I wonder what he has called about".
The answer was simple, he had just called to have a chat and to get to know me a little better.
How much nicer this is than it just being a relationship about selling his art.
He also gave me advice when I told him of a young artist whose work I loved and wanted to show,
but who I was unsure about contacting fearing a rebuff because of her rising reputation.
"John, you have got to ask her. You must always ask, sometimes people would like that,
so ask her you might be surprised".

Of course he was right.
After all Sam said "yes," and now I have the immense pleasure of exhibiting and selling his art.

Tomorrow I will show the equally beautiful, but different sculptures by Stephen Henderson.