Gallery at the Workhouse

Sometimes we are thrust into things sooner than we had planned – or even later, whichever way round you look at it.

Our tenants ‘did a runner’ leaving us with an empty building, owing rent and another year left on the lease.  So after the initial shock, we did what we usually do, we had a bit of a think and decided to re-let the building.  A new tenant promised to take the entire building on a 5 year lease.  That is brilliant – sorted – said tenant then disappeared and after a month came back only to tell us that he was being investigated for money laundering.  Well that does not happen every day does it?

Now that calls for another ‘think’ – potential tenants are few and far between, so we decide to go back to a plan that we had several years ago and open the building as an art and textile exhibition centre.  Now comes the challenging bit – we again approach the Welsh Tourist Board to see if the idea appeals to them enough for them to give us support – at the most a grant to help get it off the ground, at the least, be included in their promotional itinerary and perhaps have ‘brown signs’ pointing us out to the people who are passing through this old fashioned market town – traditionally known as ‘The Gateway to Wales’.

However no luck there – we are not in an objective ONE area and therefore do not qualify for a decent sized grant and anyway they have run out of money.  After covering copious heaps of paper with business plans, executive summaries, cash-flow forecasts and many headaches later we decide to ‘go it alone’.  Then comes along a young man who wants to rent one floor – a group of computer wizards are now occupying the 1st floor.  Should we call it ‘Silicone Gallery’?

Between the various chapters of this journey – Charles decided to buy a huge printer (on ebay, of course – he is an addict) and has been busy printing some of his stunning photographs onto canvas. Very large ones, middle sized ones, paper, framed – you name it he has experimented with it and the results are better than we would have imagined possible.   Now the intention is to have an exhibition of his work as a fashionable ‘pop-up’ exhibition and see what happens.  If the first potential tenant is not clapped in irons and wishes to take on the remaining two floors – fine – if not we will continue to put on the odd ‘pop-up’ exhibition as originally intended 10 years ago!

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Faded tulips looking just as beautiful as they were in another life.

We have a huge resource of interesting things that we have collected over the years, fabulous antique textiles, a collection of Egyptian applique work, Oriental embroideries, costumes from films and operas that we have created.  So it is a ‘no-brainer’ we give these interesting things an airing, release them from cupboards and drawers and let them bask in the admiration of those who are interested in the extraordinary craftsmanship of days gone by.  And it will not be just our work and collection – we have  many friends who are talented artists that could add interesting variety to this venture.

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Llansteffan beach – winter sunset –

So first it is to be photographs – choosing from the thousands that he has taken over the past 50 years is quite a task and shaken some incredible memories out of the ephemera of our minds.

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My mother, who was the inspiration for my creativity – a typical picture of her catching the last of evening light.  This was taken when the four of us went to France for a holiday on a river cruiser.  Fabulous memories.

I will be writing a blog about Charles’s passion for photography and even have a photograph for which he won a first prize when he was 14!!  His huge talent and the extraordinary variety of images has been mostly hidden because the only photographs that have been seen are those connected with the business.

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A picture taken in an apple orchard in New Zealand.  The toys were heaped into wooden apple boxes – perhaps for children to play with while the parents were making their purchases of the most delicious real apples found anywhere outside our own orchard.

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Extraordinary rocks – Newport West Wales beach – very painterly – just as they are.

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