Jane Reeves Gallery featured on ‘Just a Card’ blog

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Just a Card’s campaign aims to encourage people to support independent shops, galleries and designers/makers. Take a look at their website to see the fantastic work they do to raise the profile of folks like us!

The founder of the campaign, Sarah Hamilton, asked me if I would answer a few questions about my work and gallery, and how their campaign dovetails with our ethos. Here’s what they posted on their blog today:

1.    Tell us a little about you. What do you do?

My name is Jane Reeves and am a painter who works with fused glass. I also have a gallery in Padstow Cornwall where I show my own work and the work of a fantastic community of  artists from around the country. My background is in design and illustration and my introduction to glass came about through working in stained glass. I began to create fused glass about 18 years ago and to cut a long meandering story short, 18 months ago we decided to follow a dream and open our own gallery. Having been on the artist side of the business for so many years I felt I knew what was required of a gallery, how best to represent the artists and work hard for them… That’s how it all began.

2.    What does a typical day involve?

It depends if we are working in the gallery or from the studio. It’s essential to have a manager that’s completely dependable and on your side. We have Liz who understands my work and our style, so she works brilliantly as our manager. When you have 40 or so artists in your gallery there is a lot of admin involved, so day to day that takes up a lot of time.One aim of ours was to try to keep our artists in the loop with things in the gallery and in Padstow and of course to make sure they are represented well and paid on time etc.

Another big part of the day will be keeping the displays fresh and tidy. When work is sold its tempting to just fill gaps. It isn’t long before the displays start to lose coherence. So that’s a big challenge. A lot of folks comment on how lovely the gallery looks. It helps to make our space stand out  in their memory so hopefully they will come back!

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3.    Where do you work? What is your gallery like? What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

My studio is in my home. I’m lucky enough to have the whole ground floor given over to my work. We have two large kilns and a space for framing too. Plus my studio opens out onto my garden, far too tempting on a summers day! I love the garden and flowers, so it’s a lovely spot to take a tea break. We live in an urban spot so relaxation would involve getting away to the countryside or the sea. Somewhere quiet. A lot of my inspiration comes from photography and escaping to places where the only sound is the sea or the birds.

4.    What do you consider to be the main challenges facing gallery owners at the moment?

Gosh, that question is quite loaded! The straightforward answer is probably the same as any business at the moment. We are a brand new gallery really and our overriding concern is that we make enough money to make a success of it. We feel passionately about the role a bricks and mortar gallery plays… Nothing beats seeing a collection of work in the flesh. But I don’t think we fully anticipated the complexity or volume of work involved. It’s a 24 hour a day job.

And there are so many hidden costs. As an artist I often questioned the high commission rates of galleries. When we decided to explain to our own artists where the costs lay by showing them a pie chart, it shocked us too! We do endeavour to earn every penny of our commission, as we simply couldn’t survive without it. Of course, making choices about artists and who you represent is another big challenge . A coherent but varied collection of work, quality and clean presentation, all so important. Gaining and keeping your good reputation is crucial.

5.    What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?

Our ambition at the moment isn’t about expanding or becoming an empire! The crucial thing for us is about growing our reputation. We would love to become known for showing fantastic work but also we want to be known as a gallery that works hard for and encourages its artists, is fair and prompt at paying. Not very complicated but top of my list of priorities.

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6.    Do you have any tips for fellow small business owners, designer/makers and artists who are reading this and may be just starting out?

To a maker I would say this… make and create what you feel passionate about, do it to the absolute best of your ability, research fully where it might sell (if that’s your intention), make a careful and informed approach (not a tweet!) and supply good quality photographs etc. We sometimes receive approaches from artists who haven’t really understood our gallery and it’s hard to have to say ‘no’ to work that obviously doesn’t fit. Quality too is so important. Think hard about how you present or show your work, good framing is absolutely crucial.

To potential gallery or shop owners… do your research! We spent many years talking about it and then an intensive 6 months visiting galleries, artists, preparing a business plan writing approaches to artists and creating an artist information pack… Talk to other folks who are one step ahead of you… time spent like this is never wasted. If you are passionate, it will still be hard, but hopefully it will be rewarding too.

7.    Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase – we’re about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?

I think obviously the name of the campaign highlights card purchases… I realise now that the aim is to encourage all small sales… it’s amazing how small sales often add up to a good day in the gallery.

8.    How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?

The campaign seems to have a life of its own and its growing and the evolving all time. How it impacts the gallery is mirroring that. The spin off from all Sarah’s hard work is excellent exposure for artists and galleries and shops.

Sarah has a wonderful tenacity to work on behalf of us all.  It’s reminded us to make the most of our card display and not to get too fed up on the quiet days when perhaps all we sell are just a few cards or smaller items. We only sell our own artists cards so it’s a big part of the commitment to them to make the most of card sales. We are keeping a beady eye on the campaign and doing our best to promote it.

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9.     Where did you hear about the campaign & which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently?

Well we are lucky enough to show the work of Sarah Hamilton so that’s how we caught wind of the campaign, through Twitter. Instagram and Twitter are our favoured social media platforms, fb seems to be waning of late, which is interesting. Although it’s been amazing considering it’s been a free platform.

I love Instagram because it’s primarily about the image followed by a carefully crafted and edited few words. It causes you to consider carefully what you want to say to your followers. I confess that I tend to glaze over if I see a long wordy post…

10.  What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?

Show support by literally ‘showing’ support. Retweet etc… but act on it too by making small purchases, cards etc. We hope that the quality and presentation of the work in our gallery makes it easy for folks to make those purchases. The market today is flooded with art and craft, but it has to have quality and integrity for folks to spend their penny’s!

Colourfusion

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There’s something about the colours of glass that is reminiscent of childhood, uncomplicated and bright, like memories of long summer days or the joy of a new set of colouring pens, full of promise and possibility.

My adventure with glass started in the world of stained glass in about 1998, the day I cut my first piece of glass for fusing was in 2002. Choosing blues and greens to represent the sea, I was lost immediately in a memory from the past – and at the same time caught up in the possibilities of what I would make next… and, for me, that is what fused glass is all about. The wonderful fusion of colours and memories and possibilities makes it a very joyful craft, worth celebrating!

That’s why we thought we would do just that this half term – celebrate this lovely craft – celebrate colour and nostalgia. So from 28 May to 5 June we are having a mini exhibition in the gallery called ‘Colour Fusion’. It will be an opportunity for me to revisit a passion for glass and colour that began around 18 years ago.

 

first-piece_1861My very first piece of fused glass, 2002.

The craft of making marks

 

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It is said that we are all mark makers. From an early age we seem to instinctively know how to make a mark, with a crudely held crayon or a pencil at school, we write our name, we make our marks. As we move through life we leave a paper trail of marks. Deliberate, unintentional, ambiguous, revealing. Life is documented by the marks we have made.

A gallery could be described as a gathering of mark makers. A place where chosen artists have their work showcased, their method or craft of mark making is offered to the viewer as a form of story telling, a documentary made with marks. A single mark, the result of influences made on the artist, in turn brings influence upon the viewer.

Emily-Kriste Wilcox and Helena Emmans, two artists working in different mediums, share below how making marks is a way of story telling, recording a process or moment in time. If you were to focus in on the work of either of these artists you would see detailed and deliberate marks, in the silver, the clay, the applied glaze. The craft of a painter, ceramicist or silversmith, the intentional mark made at arms length or under a glass that magnifies, is an expression of a process or story the artist is living. Very different mediums employed in an accomplished manner. Time has refined their methods and given us something beautiful to view, hold or wear. It’s the craft of making marks. Both of these artists prompt wonder in the viewer, and leave an indelible impression that they carry away with them.

In their own words…

Emily-Kriste Wilcox – inspired by ever-changing skies, clouds and seas

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The marks I make with the clay are part of an ongoing conversation; a continuous stream of investigation into the materials, and I’m constantly intrigued by the range of possibilities.

I am driven by this variation – the tones I see whilst painting/creating are markedly different to that found on the completed pieces.  These variations occur partly through my mixing and application, plus the effect of the kiln’s heat. In many ways this mirrors the variations that occur in the ever-changing skies, clouds, seas and waters.

Walking and painting both play a large part in my process – in particular I regularly return to walk areas of Cornwall, Devon as well as the Lake District. I carry a sketchbook with me which I can then refer to when back in the studio for the larger paintings and the ceramic developments.

Pieces are handbuilt and I work on the flat panels initially to echo that of a painting. Multiple layers of coloured decorating slips are applied creating a depth that holds similarities to misty skies, or walks across the hills, which in turn allows the pots to create a sense of place – sometimes this can be a memory of a walk or a view across the sea.

The process of making is deliberately thoughtful and reflective to enable me to have this conversation with the clay and be able to respond effectively.  The creation of these vessels needs to come from a place of calm in order for them to portray that for the viewer.

 

Helena Emmans – inspired by the beautiful Isle of Skye

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The marks in my silver spoons and jewellery are inspired by the subtle and gentle qualities in nature that surround me. The sun-bleached pebbles, the textures and indentations of the lichens on the ancient rocks, the dandelion spores in the wind, the sway of the grasses in the breeze all these things influence my mark making. 

I like the subtle marks and details to have a random almost hand-drawn quality so it’s not too perfect and has a spontaneous feel to the work which draws the eye around the organic shapes of the silver. The pieces are very time consuming but they really are a labour of love. My work stays fresh and develops quickly even though the process is slow and thoughtful. In fact the way the spoons are evolving at the moment feels to me as though they are becoming more poetic in shape. 

Creating things is a huge part of my identity. I couldn’t imagine not being creative and I think my work works best when I have used my hands, eyes, head and heart. 

 

The process of mark making is a complex one with beginnings that are hard to define and endings that are equally elusive. But one thing is clear from looking at the work of these two artists. Time spent in the making process, the thought given to each mark, seems to call out a response from the viewer. A call to take time to look closely. To slow down and be absorbed in the moment. To pause awhile…

Giving room for beauty…

August has gone…

The weather, the news around the world, even the opening of ‘Dismaland’ seemed to crystallise a subtle mood that it was a bit of a ‘grey’ month. It would be very easy to settle in that place – the weather is still not great, the news is still hard to listen too and Dismaland is still open!

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But I dont want to settle for dismal!  So I have a question. Can beauty live alongside sadness? The stuff of life can be tricky, but how I  respond to it is entirely up to me. For me, part of being an artist is about highlighting what’s good and beautiful around me. My response to what I see and hear becomes something tangible and lasting, and hopefully something that reflects the good and beautiful. And it’s perfectly possible to have a reflective response to the darker things in life whilst, at the same time, celebrating what’s bright and beautiful. We have that capacity within us and it gives our work as artists integrity and weight.
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I haven’t been to Dismaland, but I have seen and heard stories lately on the news that repeat its theme. But mingled in it all there are expressions of hope and beauty that will someday be told as stories or painted as pictures… The sad and the beautiful can, and often do, live alongside each other.

The capacity we all have to carry the ‘bitter with the sweet’ is a great thing. It saves the day. I’m happy to be part of something that offers the passerby another view – a counter view if you like – to the sometimes overwhelming view we are shown day by day, giving room for beauty, allowing the ‘good’ into the mix.

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Even a glance though our gallery window may cause someone to pause and reset their thinking, and time spent inside the gallery may change an attitude and effect the course of a day.. who knows? The gallery becomes more than just a shop that sells pieces of art. It becomes a place where the work on the walls brings balance to the sometimes biased experience we have of the wider world. It’s exciting being part of something that gives room for those expressions.

When the dismal threatens to overpower the beauty, we can make a choice to look at the beautiful. One doesn’t necessarily cancel out the other, but we have a more balanced perspective on life.

How exciting and compelling, what a great reason to be an artist!

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Images:
Jane Reeves – Painted Fused Glass
Vesna Gusman – Ceramic Houses
Jenny Aitken – Painting
Daniel Wright – Elliptical Vessel

Summer Blues

One Saturday a few weeks ago I spent an hour or two painting 27 paintbrushes light blue. When they were dry I painted on each one a different name for blue… there were plenty to choose from. My plan was hatched in the middle of the night and refined the next morning in the cold light of day. We strung them up in the window of the gallery. A quirky take on the bunting idea, an announcement of our new collection, ‘Summer Blues’. brushes-drying2 You see, the gallery window is very much snapshot, a glimpse of whats held inside. It’s an invitation to the passerby, a brief opportunity to catch the eye of a ‘maybe’ visitor. My mind is often sorting through ideas for the window. My 27 words for blue is the summer taster, if you like. K-hanging-brushes The gallery is having a ‘Summer Blues’ theme over August, coinciding with the Padstow Lifeboat day on 11 August, staying open late and offering a glass painting for sale in aid of the local RNLI. We will have some live blues and jazz in the gallery and the offer of a cool glass of something bubbly. Feeling part of the Padstow community is important to us, as is the work of the RNLI –  ‘Summer Blues’ is a little step towards that. brushes-in-window Lapis, midnight, tiffany, cornflower, true, sky, peacock… A few of my favourites blues hanging in the gallery window… and I’ve just thought of another…. Padstow Blue. I must paint another paint brush!

The Perfect Place to Pause

We seem to be breezing along at great speed towards the month of June and the summer season… it’s been long wished for – but I feel a faint concern that it too will fly by! Let’s press the pause and reset button!

Galleries can be perfect places to pause. Unusual spaces that invite us to slow down, breath deeply, consider whats before us and reflect on our responses. And as we cross over the threshold back out into the busyness, we have had an opportunity to ‘reset’. And wonderfully, all this seems to happen without acknowledgement from us. The process is a quiet thing. It happens and we either notice it or we don’t. 

A space can have that kind of quiet, easy influence. 

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I was considering our own gallery space and the artists we represent. Each one with their own unique approach has taken time to pause and celebrate life and the world around them. They offer us the chance to pause and celebrate with them. The joy of stopping, standing still and being with them in the moment that’s inspired them, is a real privilege. Artists, with all their unique skills and given the opportunity, are perfectly positioned to help us navigate our way through the busyness of life.

Spending time in the gallery, I realise how rich our little space is, not only in talent, but also the deeper stuff of joy, noticing the good things, all that makes us happy, and that is summed up in the word ‘celebration’. For me personally, every time I paint the sea or a wave, I hope that the joy that influences my work shows through.

Here is just a small selection of some of the work we are showing currently, a tiny expression of the richly talented community of artists we represent. All fantastic. (Vesna Gusman, Ruth Taylor, Anna K Baldwin and Rachel Foxwell).

vesna 1       AmidTheAlienCorn

Wrapped-silver-ring1       6848GreenShort

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“Look at that sea, girls–all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.” 
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“A wide expanse of sea and sky”

The wideness which the lark-song gives the sky
Shrinks at the clang of sea-birds sailing by
Whose notes are tuned to days when seas are high.

beautiful-colours-K     summer-fields-K

We have some wonderful artists at the gallery and I thought it was important to share some of their thoughts behind their working practice. So I asked Amanda Hoskin if she would start us off. 

In her own words…

I was born and brought up in Cornwall and because of this I feel I have  a very strong bond with the Cornish landscape, it is where I truly believe I belong. For me painting the ever changing moods of this landscape is fascinating and compelling.

I love to work outside this is where my initial ideas come from. I always have my sketchbooks and use them to put down quick sketches in watercolour/pastel etc-also notes of anything I may of noticed or felt while painting. They are such an important part of my whole process.
Next I return to the studio where I work on my oil paintings. Working in the studio is wonderful this is where everything gets filtered out and only the important aspects of the landscape come forward to me, the light,colours, energy, smells and sounds, really anything that evokes my memories of the place. 
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It is great to be exhibiting in the Jane Reeves Gallery, a new and exciting venture. So for this first collection I felt I wanted to paint Padstow/The Camel Estuary with it’s sweeping sandy beaches, brilliant blue clear seas and  colourful flowers.

I remember this view so vivdly. It was a few years ago now when I was walking the entire Cornish Coastal Path as a solo show project. I walked down the path and there it was a wide expanse of sea, sky and sand stunning. It was a early morning and only a few people were around, the air was crisp and clear, for me it was a amazing start to the days walk I thought ‘I cannot believe this is my job’…

Come and see Amanda’s collection of beautiful paintings at our gallery in Padstow. ‘Beginnings’ runs for two weeks, starting at Easter, showing a varied range of work from other selected artists and including my latest fused glass paintings.

Nut-smell of gorse and honey-smell of ling
Waft out to sea the freshness of the spring
On sunny shallows, green and whispering.
John Betjeman