I cannot believe it has been several months since my last post, so lets hope this one is a good one ūüôā

After the marathon couple of posts about Supertram Hell РI felt I needed to dig up some of the more positive experiences I had in the early years during what was an incredibly difficult and stressful time. So, here we go…..

Good times – during the tough times…

As I’ve mentioned before trying to get the story of Cupola into some kind of chronological order after so many years is pretty tricky! In many ways the old press cuttings I have kept are one of the easiest ways to stimulate my memories of things that happened – good and bad. ¬†Over the past several months I have been thinking and joking to myself and others that I have so many incredible stories but sadly many of them I couldn’t possibly publish until I was dead!! – No! ¬†I shall not be tempted – well Ok I’m tempted but I will not divulge these particular stories‚Ķ

So, good stuff…

Well, as previously mentioned some people were simply marvellous. ¬†During the worst possible times of the Supertram works, I had customers who brought me food parcels and home made cakes and things that their kids had made completely out of the blue. People were wonderful. ¬†They shared their stories and I shared mine. I’ve always had time for people and people I didn’t know were making time for me, it was very touching. Clearly I was young (23 in 1991), my husband was working away and I was trying to run a new business in difficult circumstances. ¬†At that time, I was of course doing everything and I mean everything – all the picture framing as well as all the gallery work. I remember working on average 12 hour days 7 days per week as I changed displays and shows over the evenings and the weekends as well as driving to collect picture framing moulding stock before I opened in the mornings. ¬†I remember someone local to the gallery complaining ¬†once about my parking outside their house with the words “I wouldn’t mind if you ever went home!!” They did have a point…

Everything I have learnt I have learnt the hard way – by doing it wrong, making mistakes and having to pick myself up and try again. ¬†I always joke now that I am an excellent business advisor because I have made every mistake in the book so can clearly point out what not to do and what not to try; “No, don’t do that, I did that – disaster!”

What seems to have helped me through tough times in this business is my passion for the arts and my keenness to share this with everyone and anyone. ¬†It’s an amazing way to connect with people. I simply do not presume people aren’t or won’t be interested. ¬†There is a standing joke that I drag people in off the street into my gallery and although I don’t literally drag people off the street, I do not allow anyone to look in my window for too long before I open the door and do my best to usher them inside…

…and so to one of many stories about people often a little too shy to takes the plunge and open the front door.

I remember once noticing¬†a man sort of ‘loitering’ around the front door/front window. ¬†Sometimes, he seemed to be looking at the art work and sometimes not, but he must have been there for a good 15 minutes – which believe you me is a long time to wait outside (not in the best of weather). ¬†Anyway, eventually, he opened the front door very slightly and said “Do you mind if I come in?”. ¬†“Of course not!” I laughed ” I thought you’d stuck!” I ushered him inside with my broadest of smiles. ¬†After offering him a cup of tea, I asked him why he had stood outside for so long. ¬†The answer still shocks me now…

” I waited to see whether or not you’d ask me to go away, because I might not be the type of person you wanted in your shop.”

I know from first hand experience that some galleries can be intimidating, but not mine – surely – he even called it a shop (not a gallery), but there it was, as plain as day. I continue to fight to overcome the prejudice that exists around the gallery environment, but it seems some views are difficult to shake. ¬†And, to be fair I feel that the art world does seem to want it both ways. ¬†It (Arts Council in particular) are always trying to sell ‘arts for all’ and yet many galleries seem to trade on the very notion that buying original artwork is aspirational and a sign of ‘class, good taste and good breeding.’

Here is another similar story. During the supertram construction works there were often workers labouring outside, or very near the gallery, and occasionally I would catch some of them peering through the windows. ¬†Whenever this happened (as mentioned above) I would do my best to encourage them inside for a better look. On this particular occasion it was a pretty miserable day and the nature of that day’s job had made many of the workers particularly muddy. ¬†However, as I said to them, dirt will clean and they were all made as welcome as I could possible make them. ¬†Several stayed for a short while and one man in particular had a good look round before going back to the job in hand as it were. ¬†Anyway, I thought nothing of it as plenty of people often have a look round who have no intention of buying anything, but I don’t mind this so much, as I simply can’t bear people not looking at all! ¬†Then several weeks ¬†later (possibly longer)¬†a very smartly dressed man walked into the gallery and started having a look round. ¬†After a number of minutes he looked very directly at me and said “You don’t remember me do you? ¬†I had to admit I didn’t. ¬†He said ” I was one of those mucky construction workers you invited into the gallery. ¬†And because you weren’t rude and didn’t patronise me I’m gonna take, that, that, that and that,” he said pointing to a number of items. ¬†The total wasn’t a small amount of money and he paid cash.

We both left the gallery that day with smiles on our faces!

I have many more stories, and I will share some more next time, but as it has been so long since my last post I shall end here. ¬†Apologies for the lack of pictures! ¬†I’ll address that next time too ūüôā

Until next time…thanks for reading.