I took my car into Ashby de la Zouch yesterday for its MOT and a full service. Dropping the car off at 8.30 in the morning I knew it would be a long day, but always looking to the positive I viewed it as a day that I could re acquaint myself with the quaint little town that is full of local shops. I window shopped the elegant boutiques, popped into my favourite charity shops for a browse and by 10.30 decided to go to Costa for a pot of tea and peruse of my newspaper snuggling into one of their comfortable seats. After about an hour I thought I’d better go or else they’d do me for loitering, and went out into the wintery sunshine and crossed the road to the charity bookshop that I know will always have books of all descriptions to entertain me, even though I have a Kindle, I was pretty sure I would end up buying some books too…! I doubt I’d been in there ten minutes and had just picked up a book that I fancied the look of by an author I didn’t know, when there was a bang on the window. I looked up and realised it was directed at me, an artist acquaintance I met a couple of years ago when I did the Ashby Arts Festival boards and he and I painted our boards at the same time. I liked him immensely at the time, he’s a natural comedian and full of life and funny anecdotes, and this time he was on crutches. I left the book I was considering buying just inside the shop window so that they wouldn’t think I was nicking it, and went out to say hi to John who explained that he’d had a hip operation recently and went into an amusing tale of the nurse telling him that he would be able to have sex after seven weeks and he’d retorted that he hadn’t realised that the National Health now offered that service for hip operations, which made me laugh raucously. Whilst we were chatting, a middle aged woman and her son went in the bookshop and John greeted them and they smiled happily at him and made a cheery greeting, and thirty seconds after that two more older women walked by and stopped to chat and he airily said to the group of us “Fellow artists!” as sufficient description of us all. They went in the book shop too, as John and I carried on our chat. I’ve not seen him for almost a year so it was good to catch up. As he was saying goodbye he said “You ought to have a word with Mandie who’s just gone in, she runs a gallery in Ashby, and its the sort of exotic stuff you do”. I queried where the gallery was since I didn’t know of it, and realised it was one of the side alley ways that Ashby is full of and the gallery was new to me since it used to be another shop when I was last walking past it. I thanked him and as he hobbled along his way, I went back into the shop and had a quick word with Mandie, saying that John had recommended that I speak to her. She explained that she was going back up to the shop then and did I want to accompany her to have a look. Yes, I smiled, I did! We both paid for the books we had in our hands, and as we walked along, we passed John on his crutches and told him we were going to the shop, and five minutes after we got there, he hobbled in too on his crutches, and sat chatting with us for about half an hour before he moved on.
It turned out to be one of those meetings that seems to be very advantageous to both sides.
Mandie is in the process of looking for a professional artist to put some quality artwork into her gallery space above the shop. She had had a local amateurish art group in and wasn’t at all impressed with their artwork or their dedication to wanting to help her sell their artwork. I nodded, yes, that does happen sometimes with amateur groups, they think its enough just to put their artwork on the walls and do nothing else. I explained who I was and that I had sold my first commission at 13, I had been in the two local art groups some time ago, and the Guild of Erotic Artists but I specialised in erotic art at the moment but also did all subject matters in watercolours, acrylics, oils, or drawings. I looked happily around the room at the artwork she currently had on the wall and broadly smiled as I said that it was *just my sort of subject matter*!! She had a quick word with her husband on the phone and told me that they were happy to have erotic art on the wall too, and took me upstairs to see the gallery space. I wasn’t overly large, but it was a very good space for paintings. And said that she didn’t want just landscapes like anyone else has, she wanted the artwork to be more edgy and knew that clients will come and see different things if its quality. She also said that sometimes someone will come into the shop and ask for something she hasn’t got and I smiled and said that I would be able to do whatever it was that they wanted, since I had such a vast experience of painting all subject matters, and some of them very diverse as I described some of the ones that were most poignant for her clients.
She showed me the canvas prints that she has on the walls, and I wowed over them, all very much my favourite subject matter and obviously good quality work and the majority by three very talented women artists I haven’t heard of but will certainly look into.
By the time I left her at 4pm to go and collect my car I’d spent over three hours with her, chatting over tea, and I know I had helped her a bit on advice for posting some of the prints abroad if a customer asked for it.
And I came home, absolutely full of inspiration and excitement over the subject matter she has already in that shop.
Well, its …….mermaids, and wolves, dragons, unicorns, angels, owls, butterflies, and fairies………………..
All the sort of thing I love to paint, and I will love to exhibit with her.
(Infact it was the subject matter I chose when I first met John two years ago and painted the art festival board as you can see here on the right hand side above the New Look sign)
But the thing that I find most interesting about yesterdays meeting was, John was on crutches and hadn’t been into Ashby much since he’d had his hip operation, Mandie had only popped out of her shop for ten minutes and hardly ever does that. And me, I had over seven hours to spend in Ashby and that only happens once a year for me. And the three of us, just happened to be in the same space at the same time. If John hadn’t knocked on the bookshop window, I wouldn’t have seen him, if I hadn’t have gone outside to say hello, we wouldn’t have spoken. If Mandie had stood next to me in the bookshop I wouldn’t have known who she was without John pointing her out to me. If I hadn’t gone up to her to explain who I was and that John had recommended I speak to her, then we wouldn’t have been introduced. If she hadn’t invited me back then and there to her shop I might not have gone in again for a week or so. If she wasn’t in the process of looking for a professional artist, she might not been so interested. But, she found in me, a professional woman artist who paints exactly the subject matter she sells. Plus, I do the erotic art as well which gives her another angle for her customers.
It seems, it was meant to be……