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.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Most of the time I write about different artists and their work, on occasions I might talk about the gallery and myself [my favourite subject],
but I don't think that I have ever made much mention of the customers.
When I say customers I don't mean the people who wander in each day but the people who have become our friends and a part of our life.

Let's face it without them we wouldn't exist, but it is about a lot more than that.
They are the people who have an affinity and connection to the art that we display, the customers
that assure us that we are doing the right thing exhibiting the art that we do.
As we all know art is very personal.

A lot of my heart goes into everything that we choose to show, it is very important to me.
It is never about money it is about doing something I believe in,
I then hope that it may turn into money so that we can continue with this crazy lifestyle.
So, the people who return, purchase and speak encouragement are important to us,
as a result they have become friends.

We often think of them and at times become concerned about there well being.
It usually turns out that the person who you were concerned about has been off enjoying a holiday,
while we had been worrying about their health.
If any of them read this blog they will know who they are.

They are the people that when I eventually get home cause me to exclaim
"guess who came in today?"
This then prompts a conversation about them and what they have been up to and when we might see them again.

It is almost the same as when we talk about artists, they are an integral part of our extended family,
as such they are an important part of our life.

So, this post is devoted to one of those customer/friends.

Over a period of a few years we have been visited at each new exhibition by a beautiful lady
who we have come to like very much, her name is Helga.
At the opening of an exhibition she has been one of the first to arrive and the last to leave.
She enjoys art plus she is also an artist.
In fact a well known and collected artist, we have never shown or asked to show her art for different
Firstly, she didn't come to us as an artist and secondly she has been showing with
a very well known London gallery and didn't need another outlet.

On her visits I had never given it proper consideration
but now in retrospect I appreciate that she has always purchased "gentle" artworks from us.
Almost every time it was ceramics and every piece contained flowers or usually a Hare.
I now understand why.

We haven't seen Helga for well over a year and she was one of the customers we had started to worry about.
At each exhibition I would look outside to see if she was around and waiting to come inside.
She is a little frail and has always had to rely on a friend to drive her to the gallery,
so if it was a cold day we would rather her be inside early
than having her sitting outside in a car until the clock strikes 12.00 noon for the opening.

Of course it is not strange for our regulars to miss an exhibition or two,
let's be honest I can't really expect everything that I show to appeal to everyone who visits.
So when we don't see people we miss them but appreciate that maybe,
just maybe, this exhibition doesn't appeal to them.

Last year it was only when Helga had missed about three shows that we started to wonder
if everything was OK with her.
Of course it is impossible to call someone and ask "why haven't you been here recently?"
But the thought does come into your mind and with Helga it seemed odd.

I decided that if I was ever passing near where she lives I would make a detour to say "hello"
and catch up on events.
Well, l I decided this but then in my usual fashion forgot about it.
That is until last week when I was returning from making a delivery in Cambridge.
It was a nice day and I wanted to have a think about a few problems so I took a long scenic route home.

Let me explain, I find driving therapeutic and usually the longer the journey
the more problems I solve.

I found myself passing a roadsigns that had a familiar name.
I realised that I must be near where Helga lives so I did a small detour and stopped to see her.

I am so happy that I did.
This chance stop has been one of my most interesting days for a long while.

Like the lady herself her home is like something from a novel.
Well a fairy tale really.

She lives in and has created a home that children of all ages would love to visit and explore,
there were unusual treasures to be discovered everywhere, inside and outside.
It was like a novel where you visit a favourite aunt who has so many magical tales to tell
and wonders and delights to show.

However, I learnt that Helga as we suspected had been very ill, in fact she almost died.
But I know that is not the story she would like me to tell,
she would rather have me tell you tales about her unusual home.
Unfortunately I haven't got the hours to spare that would describe what I found and viewed so I will just leave the images to give you a small idea of her home.

It is a very small snapshot of what it is really like, I haven't shown the wonderful outbuildings and sheds all with reclaimed Gothic windows.
I have left out the thriving Bee hives, pondand much much more,
especially the interior which holds a collection of some of the best ceramics I have seen.
As I write I keep thinking about different treasures, each could make up an individual posting. 

In truth her home is something from a story, it is an artists home.
Situated high on a hillside with views that stretch for miles, somewhere that you can sit, dream and create.
Which for years is exactly what she has done.
For the first time I was able to see her paintings, it was so easy to see the source of her inspiration,
the garden is a little piece of English Heaven, it has been featured in magazines worldwide,
something that was easy to understand.
Although she kept apologising for the terrible condition that it is now been reduced to.
"It is not cared for any more and I haven't the strength to do what is needed."

She told me that in fact she is to lose her home.
For reasons that she could not explain it seems that she will have to move away.
"I don't think that I could live without this place".

I understood exactly what she was saying but I was lost for words that would encourage her.
Her home was somewhere that I was captivated by, and I was just passing.

"Is there nothing that can be done for you to keep it", I asked

"I don't know. Maybe if I was able to find someone to rent the studio? I don't know, I just don't know."

So if there is anyone out there who wants to lease an idyllic studio [pictured above] let me know.

Despite this sad news my visit to our customer was very joyous.
Helga is a very exciting woman with a vivid and fertile imagination, we had fun talking together.
She showed me a copy of her Limited Edition [very limited] book.
It was a work to treasure and I intend to ask can we have a few to show and sell.

In the introduction she explains her love of nature especially Hares and Unicorns.

"Unicorns"? I asked her.

"Yes, I have seen many Hares but never a Unicorn
But, I will".

You know what?
I really believe she might.


  1. An enchanting place and lovely woman, one can sense that in the photos of her and her home. I do hope she gets to stay - would be lovely for a youn artist to rent the studio and be around all her magic. Good luck to you, Helga!!

    1. Thank you Val, I will pass on your kind thoughts
      when next I see Helga.
      I am not sure how things will work out for her but she has determination.
      If in a few months I learn what has happened then I will do another post about her.

      I hope that it is getting warmer for you in the forest, even here it seems odd to be lighting a fire each evening.

  2. Thank you for sharing Helga's magical home, what a joy to read this morning, many thanks for taking to time to write it.

    And what a wonderful opportunity to rent a magical studio I do hope that she finds someone soon, I'm sure with your contacts an artist or writer will be found soon..

    1. Hello Julie
      I wish that I had the time and patience to tell about everything that I saw and listened to, unfortunately I am a very slow writer, but I am pleased that you enjoyed reading it.

      Her studio would in fact make a perfect home for a single person but Helga told me that she has been told that permission would not be given.

  3. John votre blog est un vrai plaisir...toujours

    1. Hello Anne

      Il me fait plaisir de savoir que vous lisez mon blog. Merci.

      Ce matin, quelque chose s'est passe qui me donne plus plaisir, j'ai vendu deux de votre encre sur le papier.

  4. wonderful !!!Thank you John...

  5. what a beautiful post and artist, I look forward to seeing more about Helge's very limited edition book !

  6. Hi John. Such a lovely place for an artist. Can you give me some more details about the studio for rent? I'd love to find out more.