Sunday, 30 June 2013


Amongst my friends, there is still probably a majority who don't use social media, be it Facebook or Twitter. Personally, I now find it difficult to remember life before twitter. In business terms it's great, a really good way to network and to stay in touch and, indirectly, it does actually help sales, although that's not why I do it.

It's main benefit now is that even when based in the gallery for much of the time, I feel that I'm in touch with what else is going on in the wider (local) world. To be so informed about changes in the local business world - so easily - is remarkable. And you find out about things that could easily pass you by.

For years I have driven alongside the estate wall of Bayfield, between Wiveton and Letheringsett, and have been to a number of events there. However, whilst in years gone by I used to notice signs about wildflowers I don't recall ever having investigated further. However, prompted initially by a tweet from my friend Sarah Pettegree - she of the brilliant Brays Cottage Pork Pies - about plants she bought there on Friday afternoon, followed by a generous offer subsequently from Sarah to escape the pie world and baby-sit the gallery for me, I visited there this morning.

Now trading as Natural Surroundings, I got no further than the plant sales, run by Anne Harrap. What a delight, and such a change from the increasingly corporate style and range of most garden centres. Tucked way in this idyllic corner of the Glaven Valley there is an intriguing and very personal selection of plants on offer. Without Sarah and her twitter, I 'm not sure I would have been drawn here and, sadly, probably continued to have wound my way past this unsung delight. Needless to say I will be returning and also needless to say I will be recommending it to friends and visitors to the gallery.  They - Natural Surroundings - tweet as well! @natsurroundings 

The other bonus is that despite the peace and quiet of the gallery on a warm Sunday morning, Sarah says she enjoyed it.  Even if she didn't she was very diplomatic and her presence here will have reminded the thousands of friends who love her pies and her tweets, that it's worth a visit to us and to Bayfield. And maybe eat a pie as well.  It's win, win, win as far as I can see.  The next step is surely for me to sell Sarah's pies... but I'm not sure she would trust me with that.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Less is more

The first time I heard this, I was a very young, very naive and ill-informed (about to be an architecture) student. At the time I was unaware of the context and having had no art education to speak of it meant little. As the course progressed I came to appreciate it more and more. The idea of minimalism definitely appealed, but I discovered early on it is not that easy.  When a design or project is finalised (never completed) it's quite easy to look back and take out the elements that add nothing. But the temptation always remains - to add something or adjust something. Experience suggests that it rarely benefits the outcome.

Forty years on, the concept holds good in the gallery world, but is still difficult to achieve. Statistically one-man or one-woman shows do best with fewer pictures than most artists want to show.  It's not clear whether this is a recent phenomenon but based purely on personal experience, a growing percentage of sales derived from featured exhibitions, actually occur outside the publicised time frame - i.e after the event.

The key feature appears to be that almost regardless of the style or content, customers find it difficult to differentiate when confronted by more than half a dozen works by the same artist. And then there is the basic satisfaction we all derive from finding rather than selecting.

Our current exhibition is yet another variation on this theme. Much appreciated, lots of visitors and looking good both in reality and on the internet.

However, it is when they are separated and viewed individually they come into their own.

This is difficult for any artist who clearly like their exhibitions to be viewed as body of work but if they can overcome this,  they eventually sell more.  Which, of course, is what they and us want!