Archives for posts with tag: business

Apologies for the lack of posts recently.  Bad Karen.

Sometimes you can feel like you’ve had the stuffing knocked out of you.

I’m sure everyone has felt like that at times. Nothing dreadful has happened thankfully,  apart from the election, of course, which I am not going to comment on as other people do it much better and with more knowledge.  I shall steer well clear of that one.

When you have that feeling, we all reach for different forms of comfort.  I’ve been finding comfort in painting mostly and launching a crazy new project just to keep myself positive and motivated.  However, this evening I didn’t feel like painting and didn’t really want to work on my crazy new project on my one day off per week, so I dug out some old photographs.

Old photos are wonderful aren’t they?

You know the ones I mean – the printed ones in the old packets you used to get from the shops that developed them.  Thirty pictures or so in each packet, some dreadful, many you don’t even remember taking and some that just capture that memory.  I have hundreds of photos, most of which have not been put in albums or been sorted into any kind of date order. Many are no longer in packets at all.  I’ve been promising I would sort them out for years and one day I will get round to it.  I promise.  But for now I’ll just have to work with what I’ve got. So, what shall I share with you?

Fairly early on in the history of the gallery I managed to befriend a couple of benevolent and talented photographers who kindly took photos of the gallery exhibitions out of extreme generosity and kindness and occasionally in exchange for framing services.  I’ll always be very grateful for their skill and service in leaving me with a lasting memory of the gallery exhibitions.

The first photographer was called David Short and this is a link to his current website:

He took the photos for the first printed brochure I had made back in 1994.

I still have many of the large negatives from the early years and remember the first time he invested in an enormously expensive digital camera.   How times have changed!  Following David, Nigel Barker then kindly helped me for a number of years before the prices came down enough to enable even me to invest in a digital camera, which then meant that, sadly, I ceased to get prints made of the photographs. Here’s a link to Nigel’s website:

Both are very talented photographers to whom I’m extremely grateful.

Here are a few photos from the early years.  I honestly can’t say who took which of these photos and any of the not so good ones will have been taken by neither David nor Nigel.  I’ve just scanned in or snapped the original prints using my phone so apologies now for the quality.

A christmas exhibition. No idea which year.

A christmas exhibition. No idea which year.

I’m pretty sure this decoration of our Christmas exhibition, whose title currently eludes me, was based upon this phrase ‘Everytime a bell rings an angel gets its wings!’ from the film  ‘It’s a wonderful life.’  There was a hanging illustration by the talented Lyn Hodnett and the line of decoration hung high on the walls were cast chocolate angels!

Dinner Party 2000.  In the year 2000.

Dinner Party 2000. In the year 2000.

The exhibition illustrated above was ‘Dinner Party 2000’ for the year 2000.  Everyone was talking about celebration and so I thought it might be fun to try to have an exhibition highlighting a different approach to a dinner party where each place setting, table and chair was made to suit the needs and personality of each guest.  Hand made, tables, chairs, plates, mugs, cutlery, glasses etc.  Not a thing was to match!!  I did cause a bit of a furore with this show though as I struggled to find any ‘hand made’ cutlery in Sheffield – the steel city!  I sent out a press release ‘Sheffield shamed’  which caused a storm.  It resulted in several trips around cutlery factories though.  No permanent harm done and I learned a lot!

I think this is part of 'A whiter shade of pale' exhibition.

I think this is part of ‘A whiter shade of pale’ exhibition.

I’m pretty sure this is a photo from an exhibition titled ‘A whiter shade of pale’.  I had a number of colour themed shows around that time including a very popular one titled ‘Paint it black’ – and no, I didn’t play either of those songs during the exhibition…. 🙂

'Joy' a ceiling mural commissioned by artist Elenore Somerset for another Christmas exhibition.

‘Joy’ a ceiling mural commissioned from artist Elenore Somerset for another Christmas exhibition.

At Christmas I always like to consider a theme.  My gallery has no subsidy and needs to sell work all the time but especially at Christmas I never want to lose the idea of a ‘curated’ or ‘thoughtful’ show.  Therefore, this time I commissioned Elenore Somerset, a talented Trompe L’oeil artist, to paint a small mural for the gallery ceiling.  This resulted in one of my favourite press release title sentences, which read:

“The Sistine Chapel comes to Cupola – well not quite but do read on…!”

“Mini Squares’. An exhibition where are the work submitted had to be square and outside frame size 8x8inches or smaller.

Over the years the gallery has had a number of small or miniature exhibitions, which is not surprising as when I started the gallery was only one space 12x14ftx10ft high and I like to give people plenty to look at and offer space to as many artists as I can.  It is SO lovely now to have four exhibition spaces plus an award winning sculpture garden, giving a combined total of around 2000ft of hanging space!  Storage is a nightmare though, but that’s another story….

'Treat' - any delightful surprise.  Another Christmas show.  This is a detail of a 10ftx10ft advent calendar made by the talented Ross Gilbertson inside which we put artwork on display.

‘Treat’ – any delightful surprise. Another Christmas show. This is a detail of a 10ftx10ft advent calendar made by the talented Ross Gilbertson inside which we put artwork on display.

Another Christmas exhibition!  This was was ‘Treat – any delightful surprise’. I loved this.  I commissioned the multi talented Ross Gilbertson to make an oversized advent calendar inside which artworks were to be on display behind the doors.  This was great.  I’m not sure we had 25 doors but whatever we did have was wonderful.  Thank you Ross!  Shame we had to take it apart after the exhibition.

Aha! Photos of me taken to publicise our exhibition 'Remembering Versaci' This would have been 1998 or thereabouts.

Aha! Photos of me taken to publicise our exhibition ‘Remembering Versace’ This would have been 1997 or thereabouts.

Well, this was fun!  We had an exhibition titled ‘Remembering Versace’ as he’d recently died and I thought it would be fun to make a cupola version of ‘That dress’ – the Liz Hurley one with safety pins down the side.  My version was made using two dresses from charity shops and aluminium coke cans in the shape of Cupolas down the side.  The dress was made by Helen Moore, a talented printmaker, knitter and dressmaker.  Heroin chic was the ‘in style’ at the time – hence the old coat hanger in my hair (courtesy of the fabulous Elton from ‘Hair by Christmas’ as it was then and ‘Betty Tigers’ as it is now) and the pale face & black lipstick – styling (ha!) by me. I had been told around this time that I’d had a local press editorial bar due to having received far too much free publicity.  However, when these photos landed at the press office – how could they not publish them?!  They were published…..

'Vases &  Flowers'.  Quite an early exhibition.  Maybe around 1994.  There were even some of my paintings in this exhibition!

‘Vases & Flowers’. Quite an early exhibition. Maybe around 1994. There were even some of my paintings in this exhibition!

And the last one.  Again a fairly early exhibition.  I tended to have mainly mixed group themed shows at that time as that allowed me to show more work by a number of artists which was preferable to solo shows early on.  I wanted artists to know about the gallery and this was a good way of engaging more people as well as offering more opportunities to artists to exhibit.  This was also a very accessible and pretty show – I love flowers!    I invited artists to submit contemporary images of flowers and contemporary vessels.  I wanted to show a contemporary alternative to the traditional decorative painting of flowers in vases.  And I got the fun of filling the gallery with cut flowers 🙂

More soon. Thanks for reading.



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