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.

Friday 22 May 2015

I have mentioned before that the sculptor Paul Harvey is someone I consider a friend first and
artist second.
So when I learned that he had a couple of new sculptures ready for me
I couldn't wait to visit him.
I must add that there is also a little of a selfish element involved because his work has such a great appeal to many of our visitors.
So I decided to make a journey to see him as soon as I could.

Meanwhile, I have been receiving regular correspondence from a sculptor who is equally as professional.

That Is Blandine Anderson.

   We will be exhibiting her sculptures in September but to my delight she has been putting me
"under pressure"
What I really mean is that she has been supplying me with regular updates,
information and pictures of what she is creating for us.

So, looking at the map it seemed that I would only have another 3 hours driving to visit her
after I had collected new sculptures from Paul Harvey.
So that became the plan,
but in reverse.

A magazine [Uniquely Away] has expressed an interest in covering our exhibition with Blandine,
So a visit made a lot of sense as I could tell them "first hand" about her work.

It was a visit that I looked forward to but nothing had prepared me for the real delight of such a visit.

Blandine is a very private person and chooses to keep her location unknown,
So all that I can tell you is that after many hours of driving I arrived at her beautiful home.
Much of it is still under construction but what was obvious is that this is going to be a unique home in an amazing landscape.

On arrival I was invited to share in a wonderful meal.
I had been drinking water and eating sandwiches on route but they had still left me hungry
I am delighted to say.
The lunch that I was served was simple and wonderful, plus it helped me to relax while eating.

I say "relaxed", as before our first meeting I was definitely in "awe" of Blandine and her work,
this was something that made me nervous [it doesn't take much].

While eating with her and her partner Terry I calmed down considerably.
These were nice genuine people.

 I eventually explained that I wanted to photograph Blandine in a landscape that inspired her sculptures

"Well it will have to be at the lake", she said.

So eventually she lead me on a walk though the countryside that inspires her.
Leaving behind her home filled with dogs cats and hens then though a field of her own rare sheep
we eventually came to a really wild area that is only kept in check by ponies, not hers but wild ponies.
It was here she relaxed and I was able to gain a little understanding of the sculptor.

We walked and talked
Well Blandine talked and I tried to listen.
She pointed out where wild animals had trodden and what new plants were growing.
She was so proud that different species of butterflies were returning and that rare flowers are growing.
I truly began to understand where her inspiration came from.
She talked of creating routes, paths and bridges where children could visit and discover a lost world,
or a world that has become lost to children of today,
A magical, beautiful yet wild location.

If I was in awe of the artist before my visit, I was even more so at the finish.

Eventually after of hours in the countryside I visited her studio.
Everything made sense.

Her studio has no widows but it doesn't need them, the work is created from the mind and observation.
Windows would only divert her attention.

Seeing sculptures under construction was a real delight.
Some just started, some part done, some on its third journey to the kiln,
It intrigued me and had me questioning how it was created.
I like to think that I learned a little more than most visitors, but still I was unprepared by the quantity
and quality that was produced by a woman who has to leave her bed in the middle of the night
to feed lambs.
Obviously it those events that make her creations so special.

I was surprised to hear her say
"I don't create as much as I used to".
I felt tired just looking at what she produces [animals and sculpture].

Before I left, Blandine asked would I like to see some of the sculptures she had produced with the carpenter Terry Sawle?
Of course I would.

As a result I was allowed to leave with a couple of collaborative pieces of sculpture.
Although they have a function I can only describe them as sculptures,
very powerful sculptures.
I have shown here a seat, I have labelled it as a "Throne" because it is that magnificent.
I was thrilled to depart with such pieces
So much so I forgot to take away some wild garlic that Blandine had promised me.
Still that is a good excuse to return soon.

After a few hours driving I settled down for the night in my hotel.
The idea was that it would shorten my drive by a few hours the next morning when I was to meet Paul.

"I will be here for you at 8am" he told me.
Something that made me feel slightly guilty when I departed from the hotel at that same time.
But that's what it is like when you work with friends.

The drive was through torrential rain and although I wanted to stop and photograph certain locations
it just didn't seem worth it, after all we all know what rain looks like in every country.

I did pause and take one quick snap,
that was at the entrance of the home of Andrew Lloyd Webber
which is close to Paul's workshop.
Across from his entrance was a sign directing people to Paul harvey's "open studio".

I did mention to Paul that "Andy" might not like this near his gate.
"That's OK he can't see it from his helicopter".
Fair point.

Unfortunately the constant heavy rain spoilt what would have been another wonderful visit to Paul's 
The visit was really good but even with the classical music playing in his idyllic studio location
the view from the windows was not too good.
Maybe next visit.

By the time my van was loaded we were both soaked,
But in typical fashion Paul waived me away, calling out "good to see you".
That's exactly how I felt.

Here is one of his new sculptures that I retuned with.
Unfortunately it has now left us for a new home in Scotland as it sold immediately.
Of course this is the nature of having a gallery, you are meant to sell beautiful creations.
But, sometimes I wish that they would linger a little.

As with the next painting.

Minutes after arriving back at the gallery Irene told me
"you have a letter from Nom Kinnear".

"I can't have"I replied,
"she has gone to Italy never to return".

She has returned, and what is even better she had created a painting just for our gallery.


"I think it is right for your gallery", she explained in her letter.
It is

What a lovely return present, I absolutely love it.
The painting arrived the next morning
I framed it immediately and placed it in the window.

This morning an old man came into the gallery
"I don't want to disturb you, but can I say that the painting in the window is the best I have ever seen".
He then asked would I mind if he visited again to look at it before it sold?

I understand what he was saying, it will sell very soon and like him I want to enjoy viewing it.
What a lovely return present.

Thank you Nom it is good to have you back
Even for a little while.

I have enjoyed a little break from the gallery, but returning it is so much richer.

Thursday 7 May 2015

After what seems a very long time at last our new exhibition opened.
Eagle Hunters
A joint exhibition by the sculptor Sandra Courlivant and photographer Asher Svidensky.
The exhibition was focused upon their individual journey's to

The common link between their individual art is the children and Eagles.

Sometime ago Asher's photograph had become a worldwide sensation after he released
a series of photographs of a young girl, Ashol Pan.
She had become the first female to hunt with an eagle, a girl of thirteen.
The full story is better told in Asher's own words.
There is a book in the "pipeline" so soon we will all be able to read the full story.

Sandra Courlivant had exhibited with us last year and her sculptures received such a good response
that I have been desperate to think of an excuse to invite her back again.
Her work centres around the relationship between the Mongolian children and their animals.
With their nomadic way of life the bond forged between human and animals is like none found elsewhere on our planet.
The animals really are their friends.

It is this gentle portrayal of their relationship that makes Sandra's sculptures so very special.
They really are very gentle pieces of art.

With his photograph's Asher had also captured the same bond.
His photograph of Ashol Pan caressing and cuddling this giant and dangerous bird says it all.

So I had asked would they collaborate for this exhibition, to my delight they agreed.

What was an even nicer surprise is that Sandra travelled from France for the "vernissage".
Her visit here for the opening was as enjoyable as her last.
Many old friends came to greet and meet her again, and a lot of her time was spent
signing autographs.

She had asked me before the opening "how should I greet people"?
"hello it is good to see you again", I told her.

"But what if I don't remember them"?

But of course she did.
In fact she spent more time talking to people than I did, and that doesn't happen very often.
The fact that she did remember people and took the time to talk with them in English
[she did not need my translation skills fortunately].
was really appreciated and it was obvious that she was building is a loyal group of collectors
here at our gallery.

It is almost impossible to believe that not very long ago I had never heard of her,
now one year later I would be horrified if I was never to see her or her sculptures again.
But I don't think that is going to happen as we are now mates and are planning
another event.

The two Reindeer sculptures were the last to be made for the exhibition.
In fact they almost never came into "being".

It was only because a lady came into the gallery asking to be sent an invitation that they happened.
She asked.
"Will you have sculptures of the Mongolians with Reindeer"?

My initial thoughts were
"what an idiot she is thinking of Eskimo's"

The idiot of course is me as there is a region where the deer are treated in the same way as horses.

I mentioned it to Sandra,
who of course knew all about them and exactly where they live, it helped me understand what a vast
country it is with landscapes changing from deserts to Icelandic mountain wilderness.
Perhaps the last great wilderness,
occupied by a population as beautiful as their landscape.

The evening before Sandra's departure we all ate a meal together in the gallery.
So talking about the common language of food she exploded the myth that in France they do not eat a great deal of onions and garlic.
I would have none of this.
I explained to her the image of the French riding bicycle's laden down with strings of onion and garlic.
She wasn't convinced.
The poor woman must live in a very remote region where they only eat snails.

So the next day before returning her to the airport I took her to visit a "real"
French market here in an English town.

For some unknown reason she did not seem that impressed.

"I see that you have Chinese French", she said after passing the noodle stall.
"Italian French"!
"Oh! Moroccan French, and the Mexican French".
She exclaimed after passing the various food stands all purporting to be from France.

Then I turned around to see her happy.
"home at last", she told me as she caressed a string of garlic.

I knew it.
They eat garlic and onion all day long.
Now all I had to do was find her a stand selling "berets".