Archives for posts with tag: exhibitions

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.



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