I am sure my apologies are not worth offering anymore as I struggle to update my blog regularly.  However, I do apologise for not having found the time recently.  Moving swiftly on to where we left off; the Supertram works…

For those that may not know what the “Supertram” is, it is a light rail network which runs through several parts of Sheffield. Now over 10 years since it was built, it is quite popular, however its construction, was a very different story.  Feelings ran very high, with many people swearing that after it was built they would rather crawl on their bellies into town than ever set foot on the Supertram!  In some areas the old tram lines from Sheffield’s old fashioned trams abandoned 10 years previously, had to be removed in order to put the new tram lines down.  This irony was not lost on some Sheffield people.

It was not as simple as just the Supertram works either; major pipelines had to be moved in order to make way for these new tracks and as soon as there was a big hole in the road, of course, all the utility companies dived in as well.  There were some impressive holes let me tell you. Twenty feet deep at times and BIG! Now I know everyone is used to general roadworks and the disruption caused, but these roadworks were not “the usual”, they were so much more.  It was a design and build project that meant the road Cupola was on transformed into a cul-de-sac for nigh on three years and the road traffic management of the area was horrendous.  Routes would change from day to day with no warning, where you could turn right one day, the following day you could not.  So it was unsurprising that people started seriously avoiding the area, and who could blame them really?

cartoon 'Road to Hellsborough' in the Sheffield Star Newspaper

Cartoon ‘Road to Hellsborough’ in the Sheffield Star Newspaper

one of the many heart warming images luring people to Hillsborough during this period..

One of the many heart warming stories luring people to Hillsborough during this period..

Well, local traders were concerned, as you might imagine, and we decided to do something about it. I was part of a group I have mentioned previously called Middlewood Traders; a small self run group of around 8-10 shops who regularly got together to discuss ways of improving the area. When trade began to be affected one of the first things the group did was to print t-shirts for everyone with the slogan “BUSINESS AS USUAL“.

Middlewood Traders take action.

Middlewood Traders take action.

Although this was great, it soon became apparent that if we, as a small group of traders, were going to survive what was turning into a nightmare trading situation, we were going to have to create a lot of noise and get noticed.  There was, and still is, a strong community in Hillsborough and many people were very loyal to their local shops but visiting by car was proving extremely difficult. Articles in the paper like “The Road To Hellsborough” did not do much to help matters either.  We had to get creative.  This is where I think I, as a gallery, started to embed myself and my business into the local community.  Yes, I wanted to survive, but not on my own, so I got fully involved in every way I possibly could. It wasn’t long before I became the unofficial spokesperson for our area and a regular on BBC radio Sheffield.  I wasn’t shy and seemed to have a natural flair for PR. Knowing that simply moaning about a terrible situation would soon become old news we got creative, clever, and a little bit naughty at times!

There were several things I and other Middlewood shop keepers did and I attach some of the press cuttings below, not necessarily in order.  I have not got all the newspaper cuttings relating to the tram works but the ones I have will give you the idea.

We hired a stilt walker to hand out promo flyers to people stuck in traffic..

We hired a stilt walker to hand out promo flyers to people stuck in traffic..

part of our extra promotion for Christmas during the tram works.

Part of our extra promotion for Christmas during the tram works.

I commissioned an artist Guy Tarrant to make an installation out of traffic cones

I commissioned an artist, Guy Tarrant, to make an installation out of traffic cones

Guy Tarrant is a conceptual artist now based in London. Guy created my “Holly” installation for my first Christmas in the gallery and really liked the idea of making a substantial piece of sculptural artwork from hundreds of traffic cones.  In the end this piece of work was never realised but we still managed to raise substantial press coverage for the idea.

A better image of Guy posing with his cones.  This piece was never completed due to planning permission lol!

A better image of Guy posing with his cones. This piece was never completed due to planning permission!

The Star 11oct1993 2.jpeg

I tried to think positive..

I tried to think positive..

Another notable thing I did involved decorating the cages. Yes, you heard right, I said cages. They were referred to as this because they were 6 feet high metal fences that caged in businesses on each side of the road, built in such a way that you had to walk nearly 200 yards to cross the road! This was bad, very bad. I knew something needed to be done as people weren’t even crossing the street any more, getting to each shop was too much hassle.  So I hatched a cunning plan.  I decided to decorate the cages with slogans, sayings, and paintings, but in order to do this I needed help.  I drove around gathering artistic friends very late at night from all over the place, getting some of them out of bed at 3am to help me. By 6am we had covered a long section of cages with large sheets of A1 mount board from my picture framing business painted with pictures, lyrics and cheeky statements such as “I hear the train a coming”, “work faster, shorter tea breaks!”. We also strung balloons on the tractors and diggers which we later gave away to local children, and yes, this did cause noise and attract notice! One local radio presenter saw our efforts on their way in to work that morning and gave us a “shout out”. And people began to walk round the cages to read the slogans finally making their way across the street again – phew!

However, it still wasn’t easy to get to us and we had to constantly work VERY hard. I remember getting a visit from a lady after another bout of successful PR had encouraged her to come and see us. I’ll never forget as she flung open the door in a most dramatic way possible when she arrived, it was as though she had just conquered Mount Everest!  She almost collapsed through the door and said “It’s taken me SO LONG TO GET HERE, I’d damn well better buy something now I’m here!” – and she did.

Another time, when large tents were over the tracks, I encouraged another artist friend Kate Jacob to come and help me paint them. Unfortunately this resulted in a lady getting paint on her jacket due to an untimely gust of wind when we were replacing the tent covers and I had to replace the jacket – but hey, you win some, you lose some.

During this period I was also approached to join the Chamber of Trade.  I agreed, but only if I could be on the board within 6 weeks, and I was. Sometimes you’ve just got to get things done!  I learnt a lot from the Chamber of Trade, not just about local politics. I’m glad I did it as it helped me establish my business within the larger business community as well as allowing me to fight for, and support, my local area.

There is still so much to say about this and so many stories to tell; not all bad! Suffice it to say I did survive these works, but many did not.  In fact 1 out of every 4 businesses in Hillsborough closed during the Supertram works, amounting to 94 business ceasing to trade. A horrendous legacy by any account and one that took a long while for Hillsborough to recover from as there were further issues once the works themselves had been completed!  I’ll leave it here and finish this extensive chapter in my next post.


See you soon,

K x



Thanks for staying with me here. After so many years of being constantly busy my ability to recall exact timings of events has definitely diminished. I have had a chat with my husband and it appears I missed a rather significant event from my last post – oops!  Therefore I shall include it now.

In the last post I had asked my husband if he was around for the fashion show and he said he was, so, I presumed that he hadn’t left yet. In fact it turns out that he had left, but then returned for the summer of the show.  Let me explain.  As I have previously stated, my husband did not have any interest in the gallery and was not able to help, despite having tried.  Indeed he was not best pleased that I had started it at all.  He wanted to pursue a career in creative writing and had thought I wanted to pursue a career as an artist. For very many years he did not understand why I gave that up to build and run a gallery. After almost precisely a year, I got home one day to my husband looking somewhat sheepish, and to say I was surprised by the announcement that followed was something of an understatement.  Chris announced that he had just secured a job abroad and would be going to work in Portugal for 2 years, teaching English as a foreign language. In all fairness, Chris had asked me about applying for jobs abroad and I had readily agreed he should as I was already pursuing what I wanted to do, but of course it felt very different when reality hit.  Yes, I did want him to get a job, and yes, he didn’t see me much anyway as I was always at work, but it was still still quite shocking news.  However, the deed was done and he was going to Portugal.

It was a very strange thing, but until the day he actually left the country I suppose I hadn’t really taken in the fact that he really was leaving.  I had so much to do and did work extremely long hours so I suppose I just didn’t think about it.  Chris said afterwards he didn’t think I was that bothered as I hadn’t been at all upset, and I hadn’t, until he actually got on the plane.  That is when the reality of it suddenly hit me like a tone of bricks and I broke down and sobbed.

What was done, was done, so I threw myself into the gallery.  I didn’t count the hours, I just worked and worked and worked.  When Chris left we were still living in the shared flat above the butcher’s shop; the site of my first exhibition and the sum total of my market research.  Sharing a flat as a newly married couple was interesting at times with the odd comment from our flat mate Graham on marriage gender politics tended to add a little spice … but I digress.

As I was spending so much time at the gallery which was across the other side of the city I decided to move and since we had very few possessions and no furniture it wasn’t difficult.  I moved into a small flat above Kate’s Cafe, a transport cafe just up the road from the gallery. It was small, cheap, furnished and close to the gallery, suiting my needs perfectly.

My ‘situation’ did raise eyebrows on one or two notable occasions. One in particular still makes me smile;

Quite early on in my Cupola journey, a young woman called Joanne started working for me on a part time basis, on a very poor wage I’m sad to say, but it was all I could afford.  I have a feeling that it was whilst working on the fashion show that I said to Joanne that I needed to go back to the house to get something and did she mind coming with me.  The look on her face when she saw where I was living was priceless.

“Do you live here?” She asked incredulously.

“Yes” I answered.  “Why do you ask?”

Looking slightly uncomfortable, she answered “Well, I thought you’d have a big house out at Dore* or something.

*For those non Sheffield readers, Dore is considered one of the ‘posh’ areas of the city.

I shouldn’t have been surprised as so many galleries are run by people that are certainly better heeled than myself, often by people who don’t need to make any money out of them.  Joanne could certainly have been forgiven for thinking that I came from a ‘posh’ background as I do have rather a ‘posh’ accent, or so I am led to believe.  I tend to joke that it is my ‘BBC’ voice.  I hail from a small village in the East Midlands, Kegworth, which sits on the borders of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire so I don’t really have any excuse for my accent, it just is the way it is.  Sometimes, it seems to be an advantage and sometimes it does not.  Sometimes knowing Monty Python’s ‘Four Yorkshiremen‘ sketch by heart has its advantages too.

Now, when my customers started discovering that my husband had left the country, their reactions were the most interesting.  I felt their comments usually said more about them than about me.  The two most common reactions were:

A) “I’d never let my husband do that!”


B) “Sounds like the perfect marriage!”

I always try to see the positive in everything, so used to quip that with my husband abroad I got 3 foreign holidays a year! This was true of course but it wasn’t easy, and let me tell you for the people who have not experienced this kind of thing, it is easier to leave than to be left. I found it much easier to visit Chris and then come back to the gallery than for him to come home and then leave again for work. People were brilliant though. Whilst looking after the gallery, one couple even cleaned my outside toilet until it gleamed,  and, I can assure you that wasn’t on my to do list!  I felt really blessed. I had both customers and friends volunteer to look after the gallery whilst I was away.  It was amazing really, though I did come back to some rather long lists and pages and pages of notes!


Supertram comes to Hillsborough.

Whilst my husband was still away the Supertram works came to Hillsborough!  Wow.  How could anyone have known was was about to ensue? The word chaos was an understatement.  During these works 1 out of every 4 businesses in Hillsborough closed down, equating to 94 business closures just in Hillsborough.  It was devastating. People lost their businesses, their homes and very tragically some even took their own lives because of having lost everything.

I, however, determined that I was NOT going to be beaten. During this incredibly difficult time, I possibly learnt more and faster than during any other period.  I was confronted with and had to deal with lies, stupidity, obfuscation, politics, misinformation, ignorance and bloody mindedness. But at the same time forged wonderful new friendships, experienced enormous generosity, kindness, determination, collective cooperation, passion, intelligence, creativity, selflessness and the will to survive!

cartoon 'Road to Hellsborough' in the Sheffield Star Newspaper

Cartoon ‘Road to Hellsborough’ in the Sheffield Star Newspaper


I have many stories and numerous press cuttings from this period which I will share with you plus all the details in the next instalment. It is one of the most challenging episodes of running Cupola I have experienced.


K x


Apologies for my tardiness.  I cannot believe how long it has been since my last post.  Please do forgive me. I am just so busy all the time!  Though I believe most people think that running a gallery seems to involve nothing more than sitting around looking glamorous, eating cakes and taking money (I wish),  there is rather more to it than that, as my recent work experience students can testify I’m sure!  Which reminds me of a story… However, I must not get distracted, so here we go with the next episode of the story of Cupola.

The Looming Supertram.

With support from my new mentor, David, I began to organise and curate shows, bring in new stock and manage the picture framing business more effectively.  I was essentially running two businesses on my own which meant I was working all hours of the day and night, and often 7 days a week.  Looking back now I cannot for the life of me work out how I did it, but I did.  My new husband did try to help at one point but it was pretty obvious that was definitely NOT going to work.  He,  I am sure won’t mind me saying, is about as practical as a, well, a completely impractical thing!

Amidst this, with me working very hard to build my business, I remember being approached by someone doing a survey about building what is now called the Sheffield Supertram.  Of course I didn’t really know what it was all about or have much of an understanding of what the construction work was going to mean for businesses in my area.  Fortunately for me, the small number of businesses around me had created their own little network called Middlewood Traders and they regularly got together to try to help improve things for members in the area. They even ran their own weekly raffle, it was great stuff.  Kate, one of the members who owned a transport cafe knew that she would go out of business; our road was going to be turned into a cul-de-sac for approximately three years. When I heard about this, I knew something had to be done and was absolutely determined that if I was going out of business I would go out because I did, not because someone or something else put me out.

So I decided that I needed to do something to raise the gallery profile significantly and I hatched a cunning plan …

My International Fashion Show

Please don’t ask me why I decided to try to host a fashion show in two domestic scale shop units and a back yard for my profile raising stunt,  I know it was a ridiculous, impractical and a slightly unhinged idea, but staying true to form that was what I decided to do.  It meant a crazy amount of work but I didn’t mind that and it did help me make some amazing new connections with some wonderfully talented people. I can’t remember the name of the woman now who offered to help with the PR side and my amazing friend and customer, Matthew, helped in a way that can only be described as utterly selfless, verging on the masochistic. He volunteered to help me start work at 5 am, painting the cellar ALL NIGHT, leaving him off his head with the fumes so that he couldn’t even manoeuvre a table out of the front door which he had offered to store!

I advertised the opportunity for artists through Artists Newsletter and local fashion colleges. I ended up being sent work from Italy and London as well as getting work from local fashion students.  The Crucible Theatre offered to do the sound and lighting for me for nothing and I borrowed a catwalk from a school.  We also used a local model agency for our catwalk models, who had to change in my basement, which was cleared and painted thanks to Matthew.

Through all this, it was painting the naked models in the yard which caught the eye of the national press.  I think they would have been even more delighted had there been a tin bath as well as my outside toilet, keen on depicting the northern stereotype.  Whereas the men in the bookies next door formed an orderly queue to take a peek out of the back window …

independent wed 14 july 93

Here is the coverage I managed to get in the Independent, and what elicited my ‘good girl’ postcard from my mentor and friend David Butterfield.

Despite it being a ridiculous idea I did get an astonishing amount of press coverage; I had 15 articles in the local press, coverage in the nationals and a good slot on local TV wearing a dress made out of the colour separation sheets from a laser copier. The TV appearance was great fun, naturally there were a few incidents too.  One of the models managed to give herself a massive black eye the day before the TV show and had to use stage make-up to cover it up and one of the male models refused to appear, however, I definitely understood why.  One of the fashion pieces was a denim bikini for a man, which he had been happy to model for our photos shoot (I WILL find that picture), but he had not been informed by the model agency that the TV wanted to shoot that particular piece. He therefore had told all his friends and family to watch, so when asked to model the “boy bikini” he refused.  The TV tried hard to persuade him as they were desperate to use the tag line “and now here’s a number for Richard Whitely on his holidays” .  Yes, it would have been great, but a ‘no show’ on that one I’m afraid.  It would have become a classic I’m sure.

Here are a few press cuttings from The Sheffield Telegraph.

Fashion by Russian artist for Cupola's fashion show.

Front Page of The Sheffield Telegraph.

Coverage in the local Sheffield Telegraph

Coverage in The Sheffield Telegraph

I do have images of some of the fashion items somewhere and I will post them when I find them.  We had the denim wear and also rubber wear(!) as well as other pieces.  I now know that you have to use talcum powder to get rubber wear on … You really do learn something new everyday!

We had a national competition winner’s dress, we had boys in bikinis, we were ahead of the times (Mankini?)  Bah! Girls stuff Heh! Heh!

The lovely, talented, and amazing Elton from ‘Hair by Christmas’ as it was called back then (now Betty Tigers) did all the hair styles for the models for free too.  The way people helped out and pitched in was just fantastic, it simply would not have been possible otherwise.

So, how did we actually manage to fit in a catwalk into the rather small space? Well … We built the catwalk around from one room to the other and out into the back yard where we erected a marquee!  ‘Marquee Mark’ did a marvellous job attaching part of the marquee directly to the wall of the building and securing another corner to the staircase that led to next door’s upstairs flat.  It did restrict their entrance, but I bought them a bottle of champagne to say ‘thank you and sorry’ for the inconvenience.

The event was two shows in one day, and believe me, that was enough.  I can only tell you how much work it all was and then suddenly it was over, but we did manage to pull it off, amazingly.  Everyone seem pleased with the event except one artist who had come up from London.  She was clearly expecting something else when she arrived, something far grander I presume.  I say that as she declined to allow her work to be used in the show.  It was a shame as it was lovely work and we had allocated a model to wear it, but it wasn’t to be.  I offered to pay her travel expenses but she declined and simply drove all the way back to London again.  Such is life.

Anyway, the strategy clearly worked in terms of profile raising as we got huge amounts of press coverage across newspapers, magazines, radio and TV.  The feature on local TV even managed to impress my in-laws; no mean feat I warrant you!  I suddenly became ‘Our Karen’.

Mission accomplished; my new status as ‘press friendly’ was to become invaluable as the Supertram works were looming, little did I know how valuable.

This fashion show, however unrealistic, time and cost inefficient, was the most amazing experience on so many levels.  I met wonderful, creative, generous people, learnt a huge amount and delivered something no-one really thought possible.  I am not sure I would ever do it again, but it made me ambitious, adventurous and maybe even more daring than I was previously.  With that under my belt I was ready to tackle anything!  Or so I thought …

Little did I realise that my biggest challenge was just about to start.

I’ll try not to leave it so long next time.

K x


Apologies for leaving it so long (again) but you know how it is. Life, the universe and everything gets in the way. But here I am, so let’s crack straight on!  I believe I left you all on a ‘cliff hanger’ at the end of my last post – well I like to think it was a cliff hanger anyway, so with no more ado I shall continue my story….

To briefly re-cap, a strange man walked brusquely into my gallery and without a word of introduction or warning offered me some help and advice, seemingly irrespective of whether I wanted any or not!

As I mentioned in my last post, this man turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me and to all extents and purposes became my mentor over the next 6 months (at least).  This man was ex-marketing director of London Weekend Television and had worked directly under Murdoch, he had also been a senior marketing executive for Nestle – he told me some amazing stories about that – and he had been head hunted to work for the MOD when he was just 17.  This man was a marketing GURU!

OH he was a pretty good illustrator and carved walking stick heads too!

He was also really rather odd.

His name?  David Butterfield.  And I am sorry but I really cannot find any photos of him.  I know I have an illustration he did of himself somewhere and I will try to find it to post on here. However, not withstanding any of this, I shall try to explain what happened and how he helped me so massively.

It was several weeks after our first encounter that ‘the strange man’ reappeared in my gallery.  This time he was in less of a hurry and actually came to have something framed (from what I recall).  We ended up chatting, or rather he asked me a lot of questions to which I responded.  He was curious about who I was and why I had done what I had done.  And this time it really was obvious that he wanted to help.  He was a lovely chap but pretty private about his own life though I did manage to get a bit out of him over time.

The reason he was back in his ‘old back yard’ as he called it, was because he was caring for his father who was suffering with Alzheimer’s. So, there were times when he spent quite a bit of time with me and times when he was back down in London working as a consultant.

So, how did this relationship develop?  Well, he started by asking me a LOT of questions.  There were the obvious, about my business and my values, but others were, well … surprising would be the polite way of putting it.  Intrusive would be closer to the truth and downright personal would be putting no finer point on it!  This man asked me questions that some of my best friends wouldn’t ask me.  However, before you think this man was just clearly a bit of a wierdo, he was very very smart and was working out how far he could push me, where my sensitivities lay, where I was strong and where I was weak.  He made me confront self esteem issues. He pushed me well outside of my comfort zones and damn well bullied me at times! Though whilst he was doing all this, he made me know he was doing all of it to help me and I understood.  He had just been working out if I was worth giving his time up for, and fortunately for me, he decided I was.  I can’t say it was a test because it wasn’t, but it was testing! Once this right of passage was completed he gave me about three months of his time almost solidly.  Right from the start he was very clear about the help he would give.  He said “I could tell you how I would run this business but then it would be my business not yours.”

He helped me understand things I needed, including that so much of business is a game and that you need to learn how to play it.  He talked about sexism, he talked about youth, he talked about me.  

  • He designed my first logo
  • He designed my first schedules
  • He designed my first artists’ profile leaflets
  • He explained what I needed to show the bank
  • He explained the press
Example of an early artist's profile

Me – with an artist’s profile! I used to find time to paint…

Inside the profile leaflet.

Inside the profile.

An early single page artist's Schedule.

An early single page artist’s Schedule.

The back of the profile leaflet.

The back of the profile leaflet.

An example of a fairly early quarterly schedule.

An example of a fairly early quarterly schedule.

Another fairly early schedule.

Another fairly early schedule.

A miniature version of the schedule for a miniatures exhibition.  David lent me the magnifying glass.

A miniature version of the schedule for a miniatures exhibition. David lent me the magnifying glass.

Inside the miniature schedule

Inside the miniature schedule

The front and back of a schedule

The front and back of a schedule

A photo of a relatively early schedule and some artists' profiles.

Early leaflets and schedules

A press collage made by David for use in my very first schedule.

A press collage made by David for use in my very first schedule.

I remember one day very clearly, after another in depth conversation, when he just stopped and looked at me and with a smile said;

” Mmm you don’t know you are, but you are!”

“What?” I almost screamed – he could be enormously infuriating.

“A game player.” He replied.

A simple utterance, I know, but one I have never forgotten.  This is the man that famously nick named me ‘The Art Tart’ and I have tried to live up to that ever since.

After the intensive three months of help and advice David would then disappear for months on end, occasionally re-appearing and demanding, yes, demanding,  to see evidence of what I had been up to.  I had to bring all the marketing material I had created, and all the press cuttings for him to view.  He would cast his critical eye over them, deliver his signatory ‘Good girl!” and turn on his heels and leave, and when I achieved a 1/3 page photo in the independent I actually received a congratulatory postcard from him!

What David gave me, in addition to the clearly practical help and advice, was the belief that I could do it.  He saw I was stubborn and had a passion for art and he gave me that extra push that comes from someone else believing in you.  His belief was a huge boost and I will never forget what he did for me.

Now, here is the sad part.  David died aged 47.  That’s only two years older than I am now. He never told me he was ill, though he did give me the means of finding out – which I did.  And I went to the funeral which nearly broke my heart.  Not because he had died, but because the man I heard the vicar talking about was not the man I knew.  He had hidden so much of his true self away. It was his choice, I knew that, but it hurt.

He was an amazing man, and I will never forget him.

But David left his legacy.  All the advice and help he gave me so freely and so generously was to prove invaluable as one of my most difficult periods running my business was about to hit….

The Sheffield Supertram NIGHTMARE!

Read all about it in my next thrilling instalment…..

K x


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

Happy to promote more culture in my home area of S6! Keep it up platform 🙂


at the table2
So you live in Hillsborough, where are you from and how long have you lived here?
I’m originally from a small village  called Alston, up in Cumbria.  When I first moved to Sheffield I lived in Hillsborough. I moved to the other side of Sheffield for about 5 years and moved back to Hillsborough recently when we bought our first house.
Can you tell us more about the creative work you do?
I’ve been involved in craft and making things since I can remember and have my finger in lots of crafty pies.
I did a degree in Fashion many moons ago, but after a few years working in London as a designer, I realised the cut-throat world of fashion wasn’t for me.
I moved to Sheffield and set up my own business in 2006 called Bettyjoy and sold handmade goods made by people all over the world in my…

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Love TED!

The WordPress.com Blog

This week, TED’s summer conference, TEDGlobal 2013, kicks off in Edinburgh, Scotland. At TEDGlobal, the world’s innovators and thinkers gather to tell stories and share knowledge — it’s where disciplines and perspectives in business, technology, culture, and the arts merge and cross-pollinate, and where attendees are asked to pause and Think Again.

Sounds inspiring, doesn’t it? If you’re not attending, you should know you can always get your dose of TED on the TED Blog, a WordPress.com VIP site. But we should warn you: there’s so much to discover on the TED Blog — it may just overload your brain.

Since many of you are out there writing, creating, and finding ways to share your own ideas with the world, we think that’s a good thing.

TED Blog

Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find on the TED Blog:

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