Sincere apologies for the delay in posting.  I cannot believe where the times goes.  I often joke that we could have saved Einstein a lot of trouble as it is so bloomin’ obvious that time is relative.  It clearly speeds up as you get older!

When I started in 1991 I had an electric typewriter and photos were ‘hard copy’ and taken on slide film.  So, although I have photos, they are all in numerous photo albums and I have not found the time to scan them all in yet.  Yes, something else to add to my never ending ‘to do’ list!  Eventually there will be more illustration on here!

So, back to the blog …  What happened next?

I’ve opened the gallery, I’ve learnt how to picture frame, put on my first exhibition and am reeling slightly from the significant amounts of negativity surrounding my venture.  However, I am not one that is easily deterred and often telling me I can’t do something is the best way to get me to do something.

Mmmm, not entirely sure I should have shared that!

Anyway, I think I should tell you a little about the space I had bought/inherited. I have already explained that my gallery was opened in Hillsborough, an area of the city considered traditional working class, and that it was situated between a betting shop and a launderette. I don’t think I mentioned that there was no central heating; my only heating was a portable calor gas heater, and there was an outside toilet. Yes, I know it is Yorkshire but even I was a little surprised by that! And, although I had removed and replaced the wood chip wall paper from the main gallery space, the framing shop, which is now our reception gallery was covered in brown wooden slats and had an internal partition wall. This was not attractive or practical in my opinion but I had run out of money and needed to concentrate on some income generation before I could change this ‘decor’. I looked to the picture framing side of the business to supply my cash flow and regular income, so this is what I needed to concentrate on and get good at.

Here is a photo of ‘Hang Ups’ picture framers I took over – the original shop front.

This is where where the framing took place...

This is the picture framing business I took over before I did any kind of renovations to the sign.

Cupola framing shop friont 2011

This is Cupola Framing as it was in 2011. We may be moving into more new premises soon….

When I took over the picture framing business and received my ‘training’ I noticed that the framer had the back door open to cut the long lengths of wood, as there was clearly not enough space to perform this action inside.  When I asked him what he did in the winter, he looked me straight in the eye and said “I do it quicker!”  And believe me when I say I did too! Though, as I am far more ‘nesh’ – that’s someone who feels the cold, for those that don’t know the term –  than he was, I came up with a slightly better solution.  I cut a small hole in the back door and put a door on that!. Thinking of the space I have now, it seems ridiculous that I ever managed to run both a picture framing business and a gallery in the space I had, but I did – somehow.  You just work with what you have.  I did have to make best use of the double cellar I had for storage though, which was always rammed with work.  Thankfully it was pretty dry and I did tend to put out as much artwork as I possibly, possibly could!

So, there I was, working all hours GOD sends, collecting and delivering stock before I opened and after I closed,  making picture frames, finding artists and displaying their work and learning very much ‘on the job’. I joke now that I give excellent business advice (and I do) because I have made every mistake in the book! I really have learnt everything the hard way, but hey, at least I have learnt.

Then one day, about three months after I started my business, something rather amazing happened …

My dream mentor walked in off the street!

It really was the strangest thing.  A tall thin man walked in off the street and walked past me and straight into the gallery in a most assertive manner. He went up to a collagraph print by my now very good friend Lyn Hodnett (whose work I initially wasn’t too sure about showing, as though it was certainly very strong, it contained strong sexual and religious references) and stood and looked at it for a good 5 or 10 mins. He then came back round to where I was picture framing and stood far too close to me, face to face  and said “I don’t know who you are and I don’t know why you have done it, but you have opened a gallery in my old backyard and I like it.  So, I am going to help you.  BUT you are going to have to learn to do as you are told.”  He then turned round and walked out.

Well!  I was a little too stunned to speak.  Who was this strange man?  Why was he interested in me?  Why did he want to help?  Also I was none too keen on anyone telling me what to do.

This strange man turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.

I shall tell you more in the next exciting instalment and I promise not to leave it so long next time!

K x