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 24 December 2015

Christmas Eve
Long Melford in Suffolk, England.

It feels and looks nothing like Christmas,
The sky is clear blue, sun is shining and it is very warm.
I find it hard to remember that just two years ago on the same day I had difficulty travelling the one mile journey to the gallery because of the snow.
It now seems such a distant memory.

 So before I lock the doors and return home for Christmas with the family I constantly neglect
[Art for Arts Sake]
I thought I would show you some images of how the gallery might have looked on a different Christmas at a different time.
Perhaps the Christmas in our dreams and imagination.
Innocent and magical.

A few weeks ago I was asked to take some photograph's to promote the first ever Christmas Fair
In the village of Long Melford.
With much help from a friend named "Bella'
The shop window was transformed, children costumed, candles lit, snow scattered and pictures taken.
All within an hour.
You have heard of four seasons in a day, this is December in an hour.

We had no expectations of any usable pictures, but despite this Bella ran up and down spraying snow,
"Nat" her partner shone torches and I kept pressing the shutter.
Perhaps the magic of Christmas actually worked for us.

These are the results.

'A Child's Christmas in Suffolk'.

I wish you all a good Christmas and an even better coming year.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Before Christmas is finally upon us I thought it might be a good idea to do a small update
of some of the different artworks that have arrived during the past couple of months.
The works that I am showing are in no particular order or preference,
They are just works that I have remembered that I have still not shown.
With each artist I am just showing a sample, perhaps one day with time and memory permitting I will
show and write about the other works that they have created.
Here is a small sample of recent treasures that have arrived.

The first above happens to be the latest arrival, it is also something that enchants me.
The painting by Nom Kinnear fascinates me, I long to know the story behind the painting,
What makes it even more beautiful is that it is painted on the "hide" of an antique tambourine.
She sent it for me to place in our 'Christmas' widow, but it seemed to me to be too important to just
be propped amongst other pieces of work so I immediately made a deep case frame to place it inside,
it now looks like an atifact in a museum and it really looks stunning.
We will be holding an exhibition of her art in the summer.

Above is a 'wood smoked' sculpture by the French sculptor Evelyne Galinski.
She visited us recently to ask a question.
"Would I like to exhibit her sculptures"?
After giving the idea a lot of consideration and thought [a minute] I agreed.
We signed the contract there and then, she spat on her hand and I shook it.

Another fantastic artist that we will be exhibiting is also from France.
Gerard Daran.
I wrote to Gerard, some months ago [it is easy when you are fluent with "Google" French.
I expected no reply but I was still disappointed when I received none.
Then two weeks later his best friend who can speak perfect English called me, this was very good
As I also have a good understanding of that language.
So it was agreed that we should try a little of his art and if the response was good then we would hold
A full exhibition of his paintings.
Daran will be visiting us in May.

This incredible chair I literally stumbled upon last summer.
It is one of the most staggering pieces of furniture I have ever seen.
Made from Sycamore and Bog Oak. It is strong yet very delicate and was two months in the making.
There have only been two created, both from different combinations of wood, so they are truly unique.
One was destined for the famous 'Chatsworth House'.
The location that served as the home of Mr Darcy in the film 'Pride & Prejudice. 
A fitting home for such an incredible piece of sculptural furniture.
Of course I am proud to tell you the other is here in the gallery, and yes I confess on occasions
I do sit upon it
We may not be as grand as Chatsworth but I promise our chair is loved and revered equally as much.

If I haven't shown you the new sculptures by Rachel then I have been very remiss.
They are a set of three [only two shown].
Created from 'Yesmonite' they really are uncanny in their realism.
There is not a single flaw to be found, they really do feel and look like perfect miniature beings.
When I say perfect that is what I mean.
They are a small edition and we are now showing our second set, I fear there may not be a third
As it seems that they sell as soon as they are created, which comes as no surprise.
At the moment I am grateful to have the pleasure to have them on display.
I promise you, this woman is going to be so BIG in the art world.

This clock is one of five different time pieces that I commissioned from a craftsman who I collaborated with many years ago.
Julian is a genius. You describe something to him and he creates it.
Of course there has to be a downside, and that is that he is very busy.
So I have been waiting [with great impatience] for these to arrive for most of the past year.
Then there will be another problem.
How do I replace them?

There is a problem with Neil, the creator of the sculpture above.
Well, two problems actually, the first is he is too sought after, the second and most important I can barely understand his accent.
Being very poor of hearing [most visitors have worked this out for themselves] I have to concentrate [and rotate my head] when people speak with me.
It usually works out, but throw in a slight Manchurian accent and I was lost.
Of course I do exaggerate just slightly.
He was probably wondering why this man in Suffolk was speaking with a London accent.

What speaks clearly and in volume is the quality and detail of his work.
I will definitely show you more and in greater detail, it needs to be seen to be believed.
He and his wife made a long journey to deliver his sculptures, this was appreciated, plus I was pleased that he had interest to know learn where his art would be shown,
which is important to me.
Having his approval I am now proud to have his sculptures on display.
It seems so unfair, he is young, handsome, talented and has a beautiful wife.
If he only spoke with a Suffolk accent he would have it made.

I am very happy to still be exhibiting the sculptures by Elisabeth Dupin-Sjostedt after her recent exhibition here.
It seems that as time passes they are gaining more and more interest, people tell me that they have never seen anything like them. I understand what they mean as she does work in a style [and portrays people]
that is unique to herself.
I am hoping that in the New Year I can persuade her to show alongside the artist below.

George Underwood
Needs no introduction as we have been showing his art on a permanent basis now for a few years.
It is nice when working with an artist that after a time things become "blurred" a little.
What I am trying to say is that there comes a point when you realise that you are not just work colleagues but "mates," from that point everything becomes easier.
George and Birgit [his wife] visited last week to bring some new, while here George commented to his
wife "I really like that," he was pointing at a sculpture by Elisabeth.
It was only after they had departed that I looked at the sculpture with a different perspective.
I realised for the first time that a lot of her work is like a 3D rendition of some of his paintings.
So perhaps I may try to persuade her to do a collaboration.
We will see.

The exhibition that is planned with George wasn't actually planned at all. 
As I have mentioned before George Underwood is a friend of David Bowie.
I have often day dreamed of David coming into the gallery and asking
"have you got any paintings by my mate George"?
Funny things dreams aren't they.
Bowie is not George's only friend in the music business, because of the exciting life George has experienced he has many famous friends, some of these being musicians.
A few weeks ago one of these visited the gallery, it was the singer Steve Harley.
In case you have forgotten he is the man who had the single "Make me Smile" [come up and see me].

That really is a story for another day, but suffice to say he fell in love with a painting
which happened to be created by an old friend of his.

After his visit here Steve Harley made contact with George for the first time in many years.
A few days later George Underwood gave me a call and we talked about the coincidence of it all.
Joking, I said to George
"We should have an exhibition of your art and get Steve Harley to come and open it, and maybe get him to sing at the opening".
"That would be a good fun". He replied
After a seconds thought I said "shall we do it for real"?

So in April that will be the exhibition we will open, or should I say, Steve Harley will open.

Well, that's it for my potted history of the past few weeks or so.
What bothers me now is that I am thinking of the other artists that I haven't shown and mentioned.
Everything in Time.

Saturday 21 November 2015

I don't know if many people will recognise the famous person above.
Dylan Thomas, Brendan Behan perhaps.
No, it's another world famous icon, Francis Bacon.
I think that perhaps most of us know of his name even if we are not familiar with his art.
His art, well you love it or hate it,
He is the artist that Margaret Thatcher described as:

"That man who paints those dreadful pictures".
Francis Bacon's comment was:
"You can't be more horrific than life itself". 
How true.

So what has this got to do with me and my gallery?

Over the period of the last year I have had a couple of gentleman visit the gallery enquiring about picture framing, these men are brothers.
They were also brothers of the late John Edwards, the man who was described by Bacon as
"the only true friend I have".
He was also the person who was to inherit the entire Francis Bacon estate.

So, perhaps once a month or so they would pop in and ask "could you frame this?"
Of course they would always leave unusual pictures, some I liked some I didn't, however over a period of time I grew to like and understand what they were about.
They were the art of Francis Bacon.
Some were were in pristine condition others stained, creased and even a little neglected.
But all very interesting, especially when I thought about how famous the artist was [and still is].

Then just a few short weeks ago I was asked would I be interested in exhibiting these works in conjunction with another gallery which is situated a minutes walk from my own.
What could I say?
So, it is that in a weeks time we will be exhibiting Francis Bacon prints from the
Edwards Family Collection.

I put myself forward to design the invitation for both galleries.
I confess that the cover featured above is the most simple I have ever done, but I like it.

When it came to design the inside and the reverse it became more difficult.
The single text page which is not shown had 5 versions and took 6 days.
The reason why is because I was attempting to tell the whole story of Francis Bacon's relationship with John Edwards and the very strong connections they had with my village.
It was impossible, and as I learned more I wanted to tell more of the history, it really is fascinating.
So the text became smaller and many cuts were made but when it eventually went to print
it did tell a lot of the history.
The reason it is not shown is because I think the text will be too small to read.
However if anybody is interested I will send them a full copy.

Today the first of many newspaper articles appeared.
It tells much of the history that I have referred to especially Francis connections with Long Melford.
He would often be seen in the pubs and is fondly remembered by local residents, to the villagers he was just "a local at the pub".
I'm sure that if the clock were turned back many people [myself included] would be asking him to do a "doodle" upon a beer mat.
The newspaper was constricted in terms of what they could portray because of copyright, so they concentrated on more innocent images, including myself.

I have always shied away from showing pictures of myself, I would prefer people to think I am young and attractive [in fact I did ask the photographer could he wait 5 minutes for my son to arrive in the hope that people might think that this handsome young man was me].
So because I can not show you pictures of the art you will have to suffice with me standing near a print [and alongside a beautiful sculpture, but more of that later].

It occurred to me that as I am unable to show too much of the art I would be allowed to show you the reverse side of the prints.
"Who wants to see that?"
In fact it is the stains/smudges/cup rings etc. that make the images so much more attractive to me.
These are prints that have not been revered, they are just pictures that were left for family members which have been stored away and in some cases forgotten about.
We have all done that but perhaps we have not all had famous friends.

This is an exhibition which is being held in memory for one family member.
A younger brother who is thought of each and every day.
John Edwards
The man who just happened to be the best friend of a famous artist
Francis Bacon.

It is also an exhibition for the local community.
Many who knew and rubbed shoulders [and shared a pint or two] with Francis,
But who have never witnessed his art first hand.
The exhibition is for two days only and has been planned to coincide with the village Christmas Fair.

The family of John Edwards are donating the proceeds of this exhibition to our local church.
The church where his ashes will one day be placed to rest.

Friday 16 October 2015

Autumn in Paris

This post was supposed to have been about some of the varied works that we have received between 
the recent exhibitions.
As usual time is slipping through my fingers while I am occupied with daily events
Office work, picture framing and of course visitors.
Sometimes I become buried under so many other things I forget that it is the visitors through the door
who are the most important people in the building.
On many occasions they also contribute to the most enjoyable part of the day.
When people have a genuine interest in the different works and ask questions about the art and artists
it makes for a very enjoyable day.
These are the people who come back time and again.
On occasions they might purchase and that is a bonus but it is their genuine interest
that makes for a rewarding day.

Unfortunately it has been the "office" work that has been occupying most of my time recently.
It tends to creep up on me slowly until I suddenly realise I am engulfed by it.
I had no understanding that this is what I had signed up for 10 years ago when we first opened.

So, intentions of doing one or two posts about the new arrivals have disappeared.
I started to remember that we have another new exhibition soon to open which had not received a mention.
With a little more than a week to spare here is that first mention.

You may remember that much earlier in the year I visited Paris to meet with two very different artists.
This new exhibition is a result of that trip.

The painter Agnus Boulloche and Elisabeth Dupin Sjostedt the sculptor 
will be sharing a joint exhibition with us.

At a glance it is obvious that they are artists working in very different styles, they are also two very successful artists who are exhibited in exhibitions throughout Europe on an almost "back to back basis".
I had been hoping to hold two individual exhibitions but both had so many commitments
that their only available dates coincided.
So with a little thought [about 30 seconds] I decided that this could make for a very interesting
joint exhibition.
So dates were agreed and in a weeks time it is to happen.

Of course this will lead to its many difficulties as I appreciate that the artists involved are not as
multi-lingual as moi.
Hey Ho, I will have to take it in my stride.
As soon as I mention "Je ne parle pas Francais".
Not only will they be stunned but it will make life a lot easier.
Of course I will toss in the occasional "ma cherie", and maybe hum a Charles Aznavour song which 
I am positive will put them at ease, they will think that they are back in Paris not Long Melford.

"Autumn in Paris"
Why is that the name for the exhibition?
No reason at all except that is the location that I met with both artists, although they both own other homes in France, Paris was the location that we first met.
And, of course it is Autumn, plus it sounds romantic [a little like myself].

In seriousness both artists are incredible and I truly appreciate that I have been allowed to exhibit
their art in England.
Of course an exhibition like this does cause lots of transport problems and it does weigh heavily on my mind what I am requesting from both artists.
However I have been very fortunate
Elisabeth has volunteered to deliver her sculptures in person, plus I have discovered an
"Englishman In Paris"
who has collected the paintings from Agnes and delivered them here.

These paintings have been the reason for me being so occupied with framing.
But that has been good.
Lacking sufficient "short term" storage space, I have been standing the paintings against the walls of the gallery as they were framed.
The interest and result has been fantastic.
Two have sold before reaching the walls in a weeks time.
I am expecting a similar reaction when the sculptures are delivered, it makes me understand why both artists are so collected throughout Europe.
Now for the first time they are exhibiting here in England, in Suffolk, in my gallery.

It is such a shame that they have not learned the language as well as myself.
Practise makes perfect and I will have to allow for this "ma petit pois".

Saturday 10 October 2015

Exhibition in Progress

This is the current exhibition that still has another week to run.
Obvious from the invitation cover above it is an exhibition of the art by
Blandine Anderson
A ceramic sculptor who lives in a very remote part of Devon.

For six years I have wanted to show her paintings and sculptures so this was an ambition realised.
Which shows that with perseverance some wishes do come true

Her exhibition was focused upon wildlife that is rapidly disappearing from around the world,
more importantly the animals that are common to us both from the East to the West of Britain.
Many species of animal that we take for granted, not exotic wildlife just the "everyday animals that
we always expect to see on our journeys into the countryside.
Hares, sheep, deer, birds................
A long list of animals that are in decline.

This exhibition has been a real pleasure.
Blandine drove for ten hours to be here in time for the opening,
she then spent hours talking with her many admirers.

One collector spoke with her for so long [over an hour] that I thought that I should perhaps offer to rescue her so that she could relax for a little while.
"No, I'm enjoying the conversation with him".
This was a relief, first to know she didn't want a break, secondly that the interest from people was important to her.
It all made for an enjoyable relaxed and happy opening.
Although not too relaxing for her, as a few short hours later she was in her car driving home to arrive there in time for a full day on her farm the next morning.

The scale of her sculptures varied considerably
From miniature pieces in porcelain to very grand sculptures made in stoneware, each piece finely detailed.
From photographs it is hard to determine which sculpture is 6cm tall and which is 60cm
the only indication is the different pricing, in my opinion much of it too low but this is what she wanted.
There was something for everyone.
As a result there have been many happy visitors.

We have intended to purchase some sculptures for ourselves
But as each day passes our choice has become more and more restricted as piece after piece is sold

I had hoped to own a small porcelain Hare sculpture but I have gone from "first favourite"
to "sixth favourite" and I am sure that before the exhibition ends it will be
"tenth favourite" or nothing remaining.

So far it has been a very enjoyable exhibition which has received daily praise.
We have been told on a few occasions how fresh, different, and cohesive it all looks, which it does.

But with each passing day another lovely piece leaves us for good.
Today another "very good" wildlife sculptor visited
"I have got to buy a piece", he told me.
He did, and now unfortunately my own choice is becoming smaller, but is good to learn that her work is admired and collected by such a well known artist.

So, I can imagine a conversation with Irene at the close of the exhibition.
"We are going to have that piece"
"why that one"
"Because it's the only bloody thing remaining".

Which will be a nice end to a good exhibition.

Friday 9 October 2015

I have a lot of catching up to do.
Since last I wrote we have opened then finished one exhibition, we have another drawing to a close
and when that comes to a finish we have another that is approaching all too quickly.
This all interspersed with the frequent arrivals of beautiful pieces of non exhibition work
Is it possible that I maybe I have planned more than I can cope with?

No, of course not, a good dose of stress is good for you
[in moderation].

So I will do a few quick catch up posts in the attempt to bring you up to date on what has passed.
This is going to frustrate me as I just want to talk about what is happening today.
I will do that tomorrow
[or the day after or the next.........]

The Ceramics of Maureen Minchin

That is the exhibition that has passed, and although I shouldn't say it I am glad it is over.
Without a doubt it takes the prize for being the most stressful [on many levels]
exhibition we have held.
Of course it was a great success because it was Maureen Minchin.
A ceramist who has become one of the most collected potters in the UK, this is because she has worked
for many years to make this happen.
From her early days as an East Anglian potter, selling to the local population at giveaway prices she is now very sought after by galleries around the country.
All of them anticipating quick "sell out" exhibitions on their own terms.

Indeed they have created a culture of numbered "tickets" and number of pieces allowed per person.
This in turn has created queues and individuals bringing disinterested friends who will queue with them
just so that they can increase there allocation of ceramics.
We opted to go against this and to treat it as a normal exhibition, it just didn't seem fair that we should
have say to a customer who perhaps attends all of our events "sorry because you are number 25 there will be nothing left for you, but please come to our next exhibition".

I'm sure many people will think that I was wrong, but that's OK they can go and open their own gallery.

Personally, I would never attend an exhibition in the knowledge that if I wasn't there hours
before the opening then perhaps I would be only left with the second best.
I feel that if you are there on time at the opening then it should be equal opportunity.
It certainly never takes me long to spot the piece that is special to me.

So, yes of course we did have people outside hours before the opening, but when the door was opened
for us it was business as usual!

Unfortunately it wasn't, interest and politeness vanished.
There was pushing shoving, lots of shouting and even more rudeness
including many comments about myself.

Of course this was from the minority the keen "collectors"?
Those who purchase quantity not quality.
It was not an enjoyable experience.
In fact when Maureen arrived she was almost ignored, I'm sure that some people thought she was just another "punter" who might purchase a piece before they did.

As the afternoon passed more people arrived who had a genuine interest in Maureen and her work,
And of course they were still able to find a piece to cherish, more importantly
they had the pleasure of talking with Maureen at length.
In fact many long time collectors came just to talk with her, they didn't need to purchase as they already have a full collection of her work.
This was when the day became more relaxed and enjoyable.

In fact the majority of the major pieces sold over the next two days so why the big panic at the start
I just don't know.

The day finished as a great success but it had not been enjoyable.
The ceramics were wonderful but not the experience.
Still we both have time to ponder on the future as she only shows with a handful of galleries 
who are on a rota for exhibitions.
So in five years time who knows?

At least I have another piece for my own small collection
What's more
I didn't need a ticket number to purchase it.

Friday 31 July 2015

As anticipated I have been unable to do "a little often", however here is a little.
I am honestly losing track of different things that have happened so here are just a couple of events that are still very much in my mind.

I have been very overdue to make a visit to see the artist
George Underwood.
This is always a trip that I look forward to [not the driving just the visit.
But just before I was about to make my journey he announced that their lovely old dog had died.
It is amazing how many different little things and events lead to a relationship.
For me a visit to see George and his wife is always associated by being greeted first by their dog.

I have many memories of him running to greet me, pushing his head forward for a fuss,
and always in my mind a vision of him chasing across the lawn to catch a ball.
A dog full of life, hiding the fact that he was getting old.
I put of my visit for a couple of weeks as I understood that they both must be feeling their great loss.

Although he is now gone his beauty will live for a long time.
George had been asked to contribute a painting to a book about the art history of dogs.
The book portrayed the art of the dog going back 5000 years.
Of the many, many famous paintings [by famous artists] that appear in the book
only one was used for the cover.
What a lovely tribute for a beautiful friend.

When I arrived for my belated visit I was delighted to be greeted by their new arrival.
A puppy.
I was so pleased that there was a new little person who would help fill that chasm of sadness.
Leon will never be replaced he will always be remembered and missed
But a new little life has come along to make the family whole again.

As usual my visit was really enjoyable.
It feels so good to be visiting old friends, yes we are working partners but the friendship comes first.
George allowed me to choose whatever paintings that I wanted.
I told him that I felt very guilty about this as I felt I was "robbing" him.
"don't be silly take whatever you like".
I did
Here are a few of them.

Something else has been "very, very" much on my mind.
Our forthcoming exhibition of ceramics by
Maureen Minchin

Five years have passed since we hosted an exhibition of her work so the anticipation and excitement has been growing.
But with only weeks to go I was becoming anxious that we had nothing to photograph
to illustrate the invitation.
Understanding how busy she is and how time consuming her art is I hesitated to chase her.
Until panic really set in as the printers deadline grew closer.

I called her
"Maureen, I must have something NOW or I won't have invitations in time"
I could imagine her looking out of her window with the beautiful view towards the sea and the far distant islands,
Wondering, just why is this man so stressed.

But my panic must have communicated [perhaps it was me sobbing that did it] as she replied
"I can send you a few pieces in the post".

Three days later her ceramics started to arrive.
It left me wondering why I panic so much, but I have decided that someone has to,
so it might as well be me.

Thursday 23 July 2015

As usual I am very behind with events and things that have happened
In fact I have trouble remembering what happened when, I really need to do a daily post
But, as like now it is at the end of the day and when the gallery is closed and I have finished all of the chores that I remember that I have not written a single word.
So, who cares?
I do.
I would really like to keep a daily record of events and happenings, however small.
This will never happen so I am going to attempt a short "catch up" over the next few days.
[ My mind just told me "won't happen, will never happen"]
Let's see

I have long anticipated and looked forward to a visit by the French sculptor
Elisabeth Dupin-Sjostedt
I originally met her in Paris earlier in the year when she agreed to exhibit with us later this year.
This was something of an achievement as her work is very collectible and her list of exhibitions are almost "back to back".
But over a coffee in a Paris cafe she agreed to exhibit with us in October.
What was more exciting for me is that she also offered to bring us a few sculptures in the summer
so that her art had a presence here in our gallery.
I have been waiting in anticipation ever since.
A few weeks ago it happened.

With her husband she made the long journey just to deliver four sculptures.
Very few people would do such a generous thing, but I am beginning to understand that the artists
of France are both generous and also very hard working.
I think their work ethic must me "you take out what you put in".
Elisabeth certainly went to a great effort to deliver her work, she not only had two exhibitions in progress but she travelled at a time when travel from Europe was difficult.
There were strikes at the French sea ports and tunnel.
But, she had promised to deliver and she did.

We only had a short time together as this was intended to be a "whistle stop" delivery
So as is becoming familiar to me now with visitors we had a quick trip to the 'Bull Inn'.
For some reason, like the artist 'Charly' who visited before her
'Hot Chocolate' was the drink of choice.
I have to wonder if they are all still fascinated by the film 'Chocolat' with Johnny Depp.
No, impossible, can't happen, what woman would like him?
I tried to keep the French flag flying by forcing down a glass of red wine [or two].
Someone had to do it, didn't they?

But, on a more serious note
When the time came for Elisabeth to depart I felt that I had only learnt a very little about her and her sculptures.
There are still many questions that I want to ask, about her inspirations and her techniques
But with only an hour or so it is hard to "scratch the surface" with an artist.
This was only meant to be a delivery of her sculpture and a quick meeting, which was good.
If only it hadn't left me with so many questions that I would have liked to ask, but as I have found the more that I become to know an artist then the more I want to learn about them.
This is good because I have much to look forward to come October.

The following morning before they departed Elisabeth came to say "farewell".
Even though there was a French speaking customer in the gallery who was in conversation with her and her husband [which was enjoyable] I urged them to leave.
Just in case they were delayed at the famous M25 Dartford crossing.
So after lots of enjoyable double cheek kissing [you get to snog twice in Europe] she departed with plenty of time to spare.

They did arrive home safely and had no problems on the M25 crossing.
But it take an extra day.

We had all forgotten the strike at the French ports.

Still, it was a beautiful hot day so it was good for them to extend their visit,
What better way to spend an English summers day than sitting in a car on the road to nowhere?

Thank you both for making the journey.