Big up

Just to let you know that the sparrow arrived safe and sound. Many thanks indeed. Your customer service has been fantastic. Please thank Tim very much from me, I appreciate his help in getting us these two new additions very much.
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Design- ooo big title am I up to it?

The current exhibition in the gallery On Reflection by Rachel Ross with sculpture by Dean Patman has created lots of interest and discussion around what makes the paintings and sculpture so good and appealing. We know it certainly sells well, as the pair have been top runners at the last three affordable art fairs and Rachel pre sold 12 paintings before the show here opened. So what is it about paintings of cutlery and small objects such as keys and moths? Firstly, people are attracted by the sheer quality of the painting “Oh I thought it was a photograph” is often heard; the ultimate accolade from the British public, and they mean it in a good way. But on closer inspection they all see that they are paintings and then marvel a little bit more. The fact that Rachel paints from life and not photographs I think is evident and not only from the little self portrait in every shiny spoon bowl. Her observation is fantastic – I love the detail on the knife handle in Tablesetting where the bone handle has shrunk and  doesn’t quite meet the hilt of the blade, there is a little gap. How much easier would it have been to paint that closed, but no, that detail is in there. But it’s not just the skill in the painting that makes these images so alluring it’s the subjects too, I think it’s to do with the fact that we handle cutlery every day of our lives but don’t take notice of it – it is a tool to do a job – but presented here as studied objects viewers can appreciate the form of simple spoons or the pattern in more ornate fish servers. Cutlery has history too, close family history often emblazoned with a family monogram or crest. “Don’t sell the family sliver” an expression of last resort.

They can conjure memory too, a customer was peeved to have missed the chance of buying a painting of a souvenir spoon from Lake Tahoe – she was married there. They also, despite their simplicity, often evoke some kind of story or narrative in the viewer – the key that opens what? the feather collected where? why that moth ?  the significance of the song written on paper, folded and beribboned? Whatever it is it works.

Dean too has a similar eye and excellent drawing skills manifesting itself in fauna of all types that make folk smile as they notice the materials used to make the animal. As I may have said before the windows here at the gallery are not sound proof in fact I think they may even amplify like a big glass sounding board, so exterior comments are clear as a bell as I sit at the desk and it has just happened again as I write; they see the animal “oh look at those bugs kids” then a moment or two later ” oh look they are made from spoons, how clever” I gloss over the “I wouldn’t want one” this time but for many people it draws them through the door, they are charmed and they buy. Today I enjoyed that the wife of the man who runs the British Praying Mantis Association forum came in and said Dean’s praying mantis was spot on and she knows a mantis.

So it all boils down to ‘good design’ a simple eye for detail. This is something we look for in all the work we show and sell and how we go about our business. We strive for a quality and standard and that is reflected in the number of times visitors say “I like everything in your gallery”.

This blog was also prompted by an article about design that I read this morning about brands and logos and it’s worth reading (very short) the link is here.

And one of the joys of blogging is that it isn’t an essay so… no conclusion. Well maybe, brand building.

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Mostly I want to share garden news as it’s the beginning of June and the garden (though a week or two behind I think possibly due to the cold start to May) is in its most lush and vibrant stage prior to the summer decline which should be from sun but usually from lashing rain. The grass paths were a sea of moss, dandelion and bare patches so earlier in the year I sprayed it off in readiness for new turf. I liked the yellow grass it felt like we had had a repeat of the scorcher that was 1976. It got dug over and raked and I liked the bare earth colour particularly when it was wet, if it weren’t for mud I would have kept it; I thought about hogging, the archetypical surface of all French park paths, but it’s too pale. The turf arrived and Rob’s turf estimating was spot on; Andy rolled and tamped and I watered – well the sprinkler watered once I had got it working and I’d had a YouTube worthy soaking. Today I had to give it a light mowing.

The most remarkable colour in the garden at the moment is the blue of Iris “Titan’s Glory”. Photography doesn’t seem to do it justice but I will still post the pictures. The intricacy of the petals is a marvel too, all for a bee landing pad and pollen administration. Clever old girl Nature.

Titan's Glory

Titan's Glory again

Grass newly laid

One of the Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' with Molly's white lilac in the background

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iPad blogging limitations

Even with top technology sometimes one is thwarted as I was with posting photos on this blog at the fair. What I wanted to show you was these two ladies, mother and daughter both with the same haircut but one has her’s on upside down !!

bob and qoq

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All the fun of the fair!

It’s has been very busy at the fair in Bristol I’m pretty convinced visitor numbers must be way up on previous years. Sales are going well with bags of interest all round but converting into sales for Dean and Rachel.

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AAF Bristol

We are getting this art fair thing off to a fine art hahahaha. No I mean we are honing our packing up of the van and setting up at the fair skills to new levels. All spurred on by Holly’s AS level exam schedule which is all this week, we had to be up to Brissol sorted and back by 5 which we did with consummate ease. It looks swell again for which we thank our artists and I hope sales go well for you all. The organisation of the fair by the AAF team is exemplary and contrasts with the horror stories I heard yesterday about the gallery section of a large and well known design fair in east London which was far from grand.

Photos will be forthcoming of our stand. Blogs are so very dull without a picture. Here is one of Dean’s fab sculptures which has my ‘first to go’ spell on it.

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Landscape opening

A busy lunch time opening for our Landscape show with guests, friends and family and the moment worth blogging about? One of the artists (Mark) looked at one of the invited guests and said “Is your name Mary-Ann by any chance?”
“Yes it is ” she replied.
“Then the last time we saw each other was at college 32 years ago!”
They had both studied fashion and textiles at Central School of Art, in the same year, in the same group. How odd.

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Been on a Tour

I had a very enjoyable tour of the Midlands on Monday and Tuesday. I experienced a myriad of weather conditions but managed to miss any flooding, though the rivers I crossed in Shropshire were very full and fast. Some high points were meeting our two new artists Jane French and Frans Wesselman and talking to them about their work, discovering a great viaduct in Rutland, going under an aquaduct in Telford with a narrowboat chugging across it, driving under an airship as it flew over the M5 (we need more of them as a means of transport, it looked lovely), passing historic battlegrounds of Naseby and Bosworth, spotting the most fabulous chalet bungalows ever, passing through villages with bizarre names – Cracklebanks and Sheepy Parva were a couple of favourites –  and frankly just driving along Britain’s roads and looking. Bless you TomTom sat nav even if you were a bit tempremental finding a valid GPS signal at times.

My trip though long in miles and rich in experiences was nowhere near as long in time for this parcel that was returned to sender and arrived back with me this morning. I don’t know if you’ll be able to see the postal date on the photograph – in case you can’t it says 19th October 2010. Where has it been? And what has it seen?

(I can’t get this blog to stop lining text and pictures up in this random manner – it offends me and I’m sorry)

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Stamp fiasco

Not our week it seems.

We salvaged an out of date mailing list off an old pc for the Landscape exhibition mailing and Jacqueline went to the Post Office to buy the 500 second class stamps to post them and they would only sell her 25 stamps!! Heated discussion with the manager. No budging them. Their option was to print them from the Royal Mail website on to paper cut them up and stick them on with tape or glue. Jacqueline came back fuming.  We looked and the printed stamp is A6 and wouldn’t fit on an A5 envelope. I went to buy my 25. I said to Daphne behind the counter could I buy more as she knew we weren’t hoarding them and would be posting 500 letters later but no she stood by her manager’s choice to limit customers. I asked if I gave £9 to each of the fifteen people in the queue could they buy the 25 stamp allocation and then give them to me at the door? Yes that was fine, so I went off to the bank to draw the cash out and on my way I went into Dimonds the stationers to see if they had stamps. They did and were happy to sell me all of their 180 that they had. So I only needed £50s worth now at the PO that would be 5 people to ask but on the way back from the bank I tried WHSmiths and she was very happy to sell me the 125 more stamps I needed. Silly old Post Office. Silly Old Royal Mail. Good Old Dimonds. Good old WHSmiths.

Rare item. PO purchased stamps

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Unwelcome visitors

Not much to say about them, but a straw poll of what people have said to me in person and on texts etc has ‘bastards’ in the lead.

The lesson however is BACKUP YOUR DATA. Go and do it now. If you don’t do it already go and buy a backup drive, don’t skimp and make sure data is in loads of places. We shall be using Cloud/remote services too.

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