After my last post I started thinking about changes;  all the changes that have happened and the transformations the gallery has gone through.  Amazing times.  I started the gallery in 1991 and most people now don’t realise that it wasn’t until 1994 that home computers really came into their own.  Email wasn’t the foremost method of communication in 1991.  When I started I had an electric typewriter as well as an outside toilet and no heating!  Yup it was pretty tough going.  Not really what most people imagine a contemporary gallery  to be like.  However, I’ve never been most people!  Not only has the gallery changed, but my circumstances have changed too.

In the early years I seemed never to live in the same place for too long for lots of different reasons. The gallery wasn’t what people expected and nor was I! Many made assumptions about me, my background and my lifestyle.  This is not surprising as I, and my gallery, do not fit the stereotype.  Many galleries, and I’ll stick my neck out here and say most, are either not for profit enterprises or run by people who don’t need to make any money out of them, partly because it is pretty darned hard to make money from a gallery which sells contemporary work from unknown artists.

Therefore, partly I’m sure, because of my ‘posh’ accent it was often assumed that

a) I was much older than I was


b) I came from ‘money’.

I joke now that my accent is my ‘bbc voice’.

I’ll never forget the look on my helper’s face the day I took her back to ‘my place’ to collect something I needed.  My place, at that time, (around 1991) was a room above a transport cafe just a few hundred yards up the road from the gallery.  My husband was working abroad, I didn’t own any furniture, or much ‘stuff’, so I didn’t need much space, and it was not expensive, which was an important consideration. She was clearly quite shocked and almost stunned into silence.  She manage to utter a very quiet ‘Do you live here?” and when I affirmed that I did, she wasn’t quite sure what to say. I asked her where she thought I lived and she said “I thought you’d have a big house out at Dore or something.”  And I’m sure she wasn’t the only one that thought that.  Dore, for non Sheffield readers, is one of the posher areas of the city with big houses and bigger house prices.  At one time I did managed to live in a housing association house in one of the ‘posher’ areas of the city but that didn’t last too long.  I lived there whilst the original tenant was living abroad.  It was very nice, but I was mostly at work so didn’t really reap the benefits of it too much.  The flat above the transport cafe was fine when my husband was abroad but it was less suitable when he was back, as there really wasn’t much room and not very much privacy.  I remember waiting for him to return one Christmas by sleeping in chair in a downstairs area, as he wouldn’t be able to get into the building otherwise. I’m not sure quite when he arrived but it was pretty late (early morning I think).  Quite romantic I suppose in some ways but not too practical.

Oh the things you do when young (not that I’m old now of course!)

When Chris and I were first married we lived in a shared flat above a butcher’s shop in Nether Edge with at least one other person, if not two.  We most certainly didn’t have our own home, or any financial security, as I’d spent what could have been money for a deposit on a house on setting up the gallery – oops! So, from there I think I moved to the transport cafe when Chris starting working abroad and then we moved into the housing association flat on Endcliffe Vale Road (posher side of town), then to Harcourt Road (everyone seems to know someone that has lived on Harcourt Road – not sure why), then we moved into the gallery – that’s a whole other story – and then finally into the house we are currently living in, which is close enough to allow me to walk to work.

When we had moved to Harcourt Road, the local press wanted to do a story on where I lived, because, I presume,  I was a ‘gallery owner’ that didn’t fit the stereotype. Picture below.  It wasn’t a great flat and was cold.  Really cold. There was no central heating, no double glazing and only an electric bar fire. We used to get ice on the inside of the windows in the winter and I used to tell people that I’d get into the bath with a top on until I’d warmed up! I honestly do think I did this once….

We once had a visitor who, on entering the flat, joked  “I’d forgotten what it was like to be poor.”   I have to say I’ve never felt poor. I’ve been cold certainly, but never gone hungry and always had somewhere to live and friends to support me and art to feed my soul.

Chris & I in our flat on Harcourt Road

Chris & I in our flat on Harcourt Road

Shortly after the piece appeared in the paper, I was stopped in the street by a business owner fairly close to the gallery who told me, quite seriously, that I should be ashamed.  Apparently the woman felt the article brought the world of business into disrepute as it was clear that I wasn’t making a lot of money.  I really didn’t know quite what to say, though I might have a little more to say now.

On that note, I think I’ll leave it there tonight.  In the next post I think I’ll talk more about my own painting and the shows the gallery has hosted over the years.  Thanks for reading.

K x