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.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

It is unlike me to make another 'blog' entry so soon, even when I often promise to do so.
This one is because I felt that I needed to, sooner rather than later.

A"blogger" [I follow] recently wrote that he felt that due to the lack of comments that he received, he often felt that he was just writing for himself. I know exactly how he feels.
Another, I remember saying he wouldn't write about his life as his 'blog' was just intended to record his working life as a Potter.
A more recent post by another potter/ weaver/ sculptor/ craftperson, stated
"Bloggers are the Best".
Maybe they are, but perhaps not all of the readers.

So what has the above got to do with what I am writing?
Well, what I have recently found that you never know who is checking or reading your 'blog'.
The chances are that they are certainly not 'bloggers' as I have just found out.

In my last entry I mentioned that I had some reasons to be sad and this was the reason I had forgotten to mention our latest exhibition.
Yes, my thoughts were elsewhere because I did have a reason to be a little sad.
Irene my wife and best friend had learned that she had cancer, of course like everyone the very
mention of "that" word has scared the crap out of us.
As a family we are still a little numb with shock, but are coming to terms with it and now feeling
positive, we know it will just be time before she is back to normal.

So writing the last post my thoughts were "anywhere and everywhere" and I would have liked to talk about how it had affected me, writing would have helped.
The realisation of how much this woman means to me.
The understanding of what she has given up just so that I can live the life of my choosing,
and the support that she gives me I had never really considered,
until now.

But I had decided like the "potter" to keep my real life private, as we all need somewhere to retreat,
Somewhere that is private and special.
But like the first "blogger" I didn't understand who reads what you write.

The result?
Several "artists" assumed that the "sad" news meant that the gallery was in trouble.
[After all I write of nothing but the gallery].
And of course, being the sensitive people that we all understand they are
Some have been demanding their "art" back before we closed!
To say that this shocked and saddened me would be something of an understatement.
But reflecting upon events perhaps it is good,
as they say "every cloud....................................."
Now at least we know exactly who are genuine artist friends are.
As a result we can move on to a nicer future with good people.


We did have our opening of the new exhibition, and it was a good day,
in every respect.
It had a really large turnout of "Karen" fans and supporters, which was no surprise.
Karen, Colin her husband and their baby were here
Sales were really good
But most importantly the atmosphere was a lot of fun and we felt surrounded by friends.
Which, is of course what most of the regular customers have become.
Those that I had told of our news were "rocks" and so very genuine in their concern and support.
The good day ended with us all going home feeling happy and looking forward to the future.

So above are just a couple of Karen's incredible ceramic wildlife sculptures.
She really is clever.
I intend to get pictures of others before they have all sold, but knowing myself only too well
I will probably get "side tracked" and talk of something else.

For instance.
The three pictures at the top are the work of my latest discovery.
An incredibly talented woman, who we are exhibiting later in the year.
We "showcased" this piece at the weekend [as a tease] and the response was fantastic.
But before I talk more about her [and I really will]
I think my next post is more likely to be about an exhibition that we are holding at the end of June.
It could possibly be our biggest to date.

On a final note.
Think before you write, you may have more readers than you know of.
Not all of them genuine.

Friday 22 February 2013

I almost forgot to tell you that we have an exhibition opening on Sunday.

There are reasons for the lapse of memory, but at the moment they are too sad for me to talk about.
But with luck some of those feelings will be alleviated for a while this weekend,
as we are holding of a solo exhibition of sculpture by one of my nicest friends,
Karen Fawcett.

Karen has built a really large following of fans here in the gallery,
so it is with excited anticipation that we will open the doors on Sunday. I collected the sculptures
from her a week ago and I can promise that they really are "something special".

Over the years we have been exhibiting her art it has been a delight to see her growing,
In reputation, as a sculptor and as an individual.
I have always promised her that "one day" she would be famous.
Of that I have never had doubts, but now that it is happening I feel jealous of the galleries that exhibit her art, I almost think I preferred it when she was "my secret". 
But to even think such a thing shames me.
As she told me a couple of days ago " your work is always put in front".
I suppose that is because we have become friends and collaborators with a common goal.

This will be a good and fun exhibition, with sculptures too good not to be real. 

When and if I have a chance I will show pictures of her stunning ceramics as they deserve to be seen.
Until then here is a peak of the invitation.

Thursday 7 February 2013

Apparently, it was a bad time of the year that I had decided to travel upon
The weather had been pretty bad, rain, snow, rain, ice, more snow and on the evening before I set off
Yet more snow.
Still it could have been worse according to the media,

"Whiteout Britain"
"Planes Grounded"
"Country in Ice Grip"
"Chaos on Motorway"
"Country on Flood Alert"

There is no doubt about it when it comes to "doom & gloom" we really lead the way, everything was predicted except "Plague of Locust," give it time it will come.
But I was committed, car was hired, rooms booked, clean socks, pants and 'wellies' were packed,
So off I set early on a Sunday morning before the world awoke [or at least my household].

I must admit once I have managed to leave a warm bed and a house full of sleeping dogs I find that there is nothing nicer than watching the sun rise on a beautiful day.
Travelling West and then South.
By the time I was driving through Somerset the day really was looking good, the morning mist rising over the lowlands while everything else was bathed in a glorious light.
It was a day that it felt good to be alive on, I felt very fortunate to be making this journey on such a day.
In fact I was happy to be making the journey, I felt that I was "slacking off work",
although I wasn't really because the trip was to collect new art for the gallery plus cement some new
relationships, which was essential for a very important and ambitious exhibition that we have planned for the middle of the year, an exhibition involving around twenty world class potters.
Even so there was still a feeling of guilt being away as there was so much to be done back at the gallery.

I stopped for the night a few miles outside of St. Ives in Cornwall.
I could have carried on and had my first visit, plus a bag of chips by the sea which would have been nice, but I just wanted to sleep.
The family hasn't had a holiday or any time off except for Christmas for over seven years, and I spend
seven days a week in the gallery, so it is trips like this that give me the chance to "switch off"
from the daily routine and as normal it makes me tired.
So I was in bed at a time when I am normally still in the gallery writing letters or doing paperwork.
Sleep, it was lovely.

The potter John Bedding was the man that I had come to visit.
So my first call of the morning was to his amazing gallery, although it should be called a museum.
He shows [for sale] probably the best collection of ceramics in the country, it certainly equals the collection in many museums.
Although I had come to admire the work by many famous potters my real purpose was to discover what beautiful pieces of his own might be tucked away somewhere, before I went off to meet with him.
I made a wish list of my choices then set of through the deserted lanes of St Ives
Out of season this famous artist location is a strange place, the tourist shops are closed or empty and
in reality a little of the magic is lost along with the vibrance, in fact it seems very much like anywhere
in the country with the exception of the sound of the sea in the background.

I visited John at his studio which is in the towns old gaol-yard, which forms a complex of studios that John owns and lets to other potters, all of them exceptional craftspeople, it is a magical place.
From inside that "gaol" some fantastic, original ceramics are created, but I will mention more about that in a later post when I will show some of the work by Sarah Dunstan.
I would like to talk of her, her work and my meeting with her now but as usual the time is late.

So, I did meet with John Bedding, who for me is one of the most forward thinking potters of our time. Despite not being in the best of health he "once again" captivated me with his explanations of his working methods and future plans. Some of his ideas really are ground breaking but it is not my place [although tempted] to talk of them, which is pretty good when I consider that he is slightly more ancient than me. This isn't a man who tells second hand stories of Bernard leach, he worked with him,
although he doesn't talk of this or of any of his important associations.
He is a quite talking man with lots of energy and enthusiasm, I like him a lot, and his work.

Of course, it goes without saying that he let me leave St. Ives with my choice of his pots.
So to shorten a too long a story, after a visit to the pottery that once belonged to Bernard Leach I returned to my hotel for another long nights sleep.
Next morning found me driving up to Devon where I met up with old friends and craftsmen.
I would have visited more and I had promised to call in to see Philip Leach but the day was passing too fast and I had one more important visit [for future exhibition] to make before leaving the county.

This was to meet the potter 'Harry Juniper,' a truly amazing man.
He is aged 80 but going on 16.
Visiting his pottery I was staggered by the shear amount of pots he produces, and most of them
Harvest Jugs, and what surprised me is that they are affordable.
None of the "they take so long that's why they are expensive" stuff for this old boy,
He just works and works.
His only complaint was that he "needs time, that's all I want, time".
That would be interspaced by his most frequent comment "isn't life grand?"
"Isn't it a wonderful life," "just more time"
was what he kept repeating. It was a wonderful visit.
He took me into his home. "Nobody gets to come in here," he told me.
Showed me all of the photographs of his work since he started life as a potter, aged 14, recounted stories of his life and career, and even showed me his personal collection of ceramics.
Just one piece by John Maltby.
"The only man I purchased a pot from, after all why should I buy them I make them".
After too many hours and in the dark evening I reluctantly left him, but with the promise o
 "Harvest Jugs to follow in May".

So I drove up through the remainder of Devon, across the Severn Bridge [in horizontal rain]
into Wales then north to arrive late at night outside the ancient town of Ludlow.

After a "not so long" nights sleep I travelled into the town to meet with another potter Andrew Crouch.
This is an episode I will revisit as I don't write fast and it is getting too late to be sitting in the gallery.
I must be the only shop that is still lit and with an occupant.
[if you're passing call in].

Finally, I arrived at my last destination the pottery of Mark Griffiths.
Slight problem here, Mark had gotten the date of my visit wrong and he had left for the coast of Wales.
I was determined that I was not leaving his pottery without a car full of his pots, so I drove into town got some fish and chips then returned to sit outside his door in the hope that someone would arrive home.
At long last. His son arrived home in the evening.
After I explained my predicament and my purpose he invited me in to
"Help yourself".
That's just what I did and I loved every minute of it.
In my mind I could hear Mark saying "not that one, I'm keeping that" but as he wasn't there I did what a man has to do [well if he has a gallery] and took every pot I liked.
Now "that's what I call shopping".

Two days later back in the gallery Mark called for a chat.
Everything was good, and when he told me the prices it got even better.
Believe me, anyone who comes to purchase these pots is going to get a real bargain, fantastic pots by one of UK's best potters at prices we can still afford.
I like Mark, even if he does forget things.
Like my bloody visit.

Above are a mixture of a few pieces that I returned with from John and Mark.