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 25 February 2014

Catching Up

Even with the best intentions it seems that I am always behind with writing about what is happening.
On the last post I showed some sculptures that were not part of our new exhibition.

What did it matter? I had plenty of time to show what was going to be included,
but as usual time just slipped through my fingers like sand.
Like with every exhibition that we hold things seem to run up to the wire,
There just seems like an endless list of jobs to be completed, not least showing the new work
to its best advantage, which I admit can sometimes be difficult when the art
isn't here and is only expected minutes before the opening.
I should be used to the stress and I suppose I am but it doesn't make me feel any better.

Here are just a few of our latest exhibits.
The paintings by Gwen Fulton which form a part of this exhibition
I have already given you a "peak" of before so now I will show a few of the other exhibits.

These pieces are by Mark Oliver
who describes himself as the 'Urban Entomologist'.
Which is his bow of respect to the Victorian tradition of insect collecting.
His work is anything but Victorian, it is created from the household objects that we discard on a daily basis.
When this discarded "litter" is transformed by Mark into objects of beauty
it makes me wonder where we have all gone wrong.
But of course we don't have his vision.
Vision or history? It is hard to say which as his influence came from sitting with his father in the garden shed.
Like many many of us remember our Dad's were great hoarders of treasure.
Old tobacco tins full of "nuts, bolts, cogs and watch parts".
All of those things that "you just didn't know when you might need them".
It is this influence that makes the art pieces created by Mark so very endearing,
he is very much an artist of our time but with one foot set firmly in our recent past.

His 'Litter Bugs' are both beautiful and very nostalgic.
I was first introduced to his work by a fellow 'blogger' who once showed a little of his work
she had seen on show somewhere but she didn't tell us who he was.
For about two years this work stayed in my thoughts.

At last he is here in the gallery, and his work really has to be seen to be appreciated.

The third artist to share the space with Mark and Gwen is 
Rachel Talbot.
Her work is an absolute delight, it is so well crafted and is cast in bronze, yet even though it is
made from a very expensive material it is treated without reverence,
it is so very gentle and childish, I suppose mean childlike not childish.
For me it invokes so many memories of being a little boy.
As a child being read stories like 'Wind in the Willows' it seems so very natural to me that wild animals would dress in clothing.
Why not?
I just love the thought that such a talented sculptor is so "young at heart"
and doesn't take herself too seriously.
In her own words she says
"like Peter Pan I strive never to grow up"

As an artist she is an absolute delight.
With every conversation I have shared with her I have put down the telephone
down afterwards with a big grin on my face.

You may understand by now that I like to tell stories, or as I would describe it
"paint pictures with words."
Whenever I speak with Rachel I feel we have both been painting pictures,
in fact I find that we are both almost whispering, like children do.

When her sculptures were delivered by her husband [also a sculptor] we took a break for a coffee.
It gave me [and him] the opportunity to talk of her.
I explained to him how much I admired her and how lucky I thought he was to have such a partner.

"I would not exchange her for a 'Golden Pig' he told me.
I have no understanding of what he meant but when I told Rachel I could feel her smile
[is that possible]?

He also told me that her "drapery" was becoming first class,
"look at it when you go back to the gallery, the detail is incredible" he said.
I explained that I had seen that instantly.
"The trousers on the Hare are so lifelike, the way they are tight around the crutch is so realistic."
I told him.
"that required a lot of "dressing up," he replied [with a grin].

I didn't believe him.
But it was true, like my favourite illustrators of all time 'The Brothers Hildebrandt"
Rachel and her husband create the costume and pose for photographs
just to see how things would look in 'real life'.
She uses these photographs as the starting point for her sculptures.

I loved to hear such things,
only a serious artist would do such a mad exciting thing.
Which makes the innocence of her work even more delightful.

I like Rachel and I hope she never grows up.

Monday 17 February 2014

Had to show.

Although we have a new exhibition almost on top of us.
In fact days away 
But I just couldn't resist showing you these new sculptures that arrived a few days ago.
They will not be a feature of the exhibition but they will be on display somewhere in the gallery.

They are by a wonderful French woman named Sandra Courlivant.
I discovered her work by accident,
I was following the progress of an artist that we had shown a long while ago,
he is an English potter who lives and works in France.
I was just wondering if he was going onto the bigger and greater things I felt he was destined for.
He is, I must call him before he becomes too big.

However what really surprised me was that amongst the many French galleries that are exhibiting
his work there was one called Imagine Gallery.
Not us, the French version.
What was even more strange was the fact that their artists were people I would love to show.
None more so than Sandra.
At a glance I fell in love with her sculpture and I understood that I would have no peace
until some of it was on show here in
Imagine Gallery 'Angletaire'. 

   I confess, my "parlez vous" days were left behind long ago in the school classroom,
but there is nothing like desperation to sharpen the memory.
Unfortunately Sandra must have attended the equivalent of my school,
so her English was as good as my French, pretty bad.

But we managed.
It might have been easier if we used 'Skype', then we could have at least used sign language,
although after putting up with a little of my 'Francais'
I'm sure she would have used the international sign language.
One finger.
But we both persevered and I think that we understood from the very first conversation we would
work together at some time.

Since that first day we have spoken many times,
with each correspondence things have progressed a little further, and become more of a reality.
Neither of us has improved our foreign language speaking but it became clear to
us both that the transport was going to be a problem.
In the end Sandra asked would I be prepared to accept just small pieces as she feared that
her larger pieces would not make the journey.
Of course I would, I was desperate to have anything she created.
We agreed that if things worked out with the first pieces that next occasion one of us would make the journey across the channel to ensure the safety of the sculpture,
plus we would be talking about a full exhibition.

Although there could still be problems, because if there is one thing worse than my spoken "French"
it is my ability to drive in a foreign country.

So after our last conversation I was staggered when she wrote to me saying
"the sculptures are on route and here are some pictures of what you will receive,
And if their are breakages please don't stress".

She was sending all of the large fragile pieces that I had yearned for,
the sculpture she was frightened to send
What would happen, would they survive?
Two days later a large truck parked outside the gallery, then the driver proceeded to unload
a VERY large container, so large he couldn't get it inside so it was left outside.

One hour later the gallery was filled with boxes, wrapping, French newspapers, and foam chips.
Plus, of course five beautiful sculptures.
Here they are above.

Her work is so unusual and so innocent.
The sculptures we have are of children, Mongolian children from the Steppes.

I love both them and this wonderful woman who took such a risk for us.
"Merci beaucoup, Sandra".

That's it, I can't speak any more.

Saturday 1 February 2014


I imagine that like all gallery owners I am constantly searching for artists whose work I feel
will sit harmoniously alongside the other art that we show.
It seems strange that without ever having given conscious thought
to the art that we show, like everywhere else we have established a gallery "style".
I suppose what this means is that we show the various different artworks that I admire which reflect my own personal taste and understanding of what is good or bad art.

I appreciate that there are many, many good artists working in various mediums who
are really successful and who really sell well,
on occasions they approach the gallery,
introduce themselves [knowing that I must have heard of them]
Then ask would I like to exhibit their art.
Also of course the same thing happens more frequently with artists
who have never shown in a gallery before,
I hate these moments as it puts me in a position of appearing to be disinterested or aloof.
The truth is I don't want to offend anyone, especially if it is someone approaching a gallery for the first time
I really don't want to dampen their enthusiasm, plus I understand that it probably
takes a lot of courage to approach a gallery for the first time.

But time has taught me that the only art that works for us are the pieces that I love and admire.
Be they from established or unknown artists.
These are the works that of course fit in with everything else.
This is how galleries establish their own identity.

I regret saying "no" to anyone,
of course especially when it is a known artist, but I feel it is better to be honest rather than
let them and myself down.
On occasions this will happen, even when I really believe in an artist and their art,
but then it never bothers me because I loved that art and I feel that someone has lost an opportunity
to own something wonderful.
I would regret it a lot more if I wasn't sure about the artwork.

So, as I started off by saying, I am always searching for the artists who I feel will
work for us and us for them.
I search almost everyday and then maybe write to one new artist each month.
In the past I have been really fortunate and have received replies
[followed by art] from people that I highly regard.
Well, lets just call them famous
Although that is not how they perceive themselves, that is our perception of them.
Usually, they are the nicest of people

Some [very long] while ago I sent a letter to an artist who I felt would really fit with the gallery.
'Gwen Fulton'.

I had looked at her art many times and wished that we were showing it.
Like many successful artists she was very hard to find
so I found myself writing to her on a "contact" form, something that I dislike as it seems so
impersonal but I appreciate that
More and more artists need to do this rather than spend hours each day reading unsolicited emails.
Everyone, especially artists likes to escape now and again.

Off went my message to Gwen.

I heard nothing again, which was no surprise as she is a really sought after artist.

Months later,

I received her reply, she was becoming concerned that there was nobody had been contacting her
via the 'contact' page,
It wasn't activated and nothing was being sent onwards to her including my small letter.

"Yes," she would very much like to show some art with us, "How do we progress?"
Gwen is now part of our forthcoming exhibition.

I love her paintings, they have such a narrative which has me wondering for hours
What is the story behind this?
She explained to me that this is what she want's to achieve
because there will be so many different stories in so many different minds, each different to her own.

But what is really special about these paintings is that they "overspill".
She paints the frames which become a part, a very important part of the finished painting.
I can't imagine anyone asking "could you re-frame this in a black moulding."

Gwen's beautiful, unusual paintings have become a part of the jigsaw
that is our gallery.

I will tell and show more of this exhibition very soon.