When I started to write this blog, I was just going to put down my thoughts about the first three days of my exhibition but as my writing progressed I realised that there was much more that I wanted to mention.
After setting up the exhibition, I have to admit to feeling nervous when I opened the doors to the public, not knowing what their response would be.
We opened early on Friday 5th and immediately had about eleven people through the door. A lot of interest and a few cards sold. Whew! My nerves settled!
There was then a lull as people arrived for lunch at the café. Eventually, numbers picked up by mid afternoon and I managed to sell one painting to a couple, who had already two of my paintings from previous exhibitions in their collection. This was a football scene for the husband. I also took a deposit for another painting and sold a few more cards. For quite a rainy dull day this was a good start.
Saturday arrived with much better weather and although sales of cards continued and the person came in to finish paying for the painting from the day before, numbers were not as good as expected considering the people milling around.
On Sunday, we arrived early and as there was an Apple Festival in the park, numbers increased considerably, as did visitors to the exhibition. Another football picture was sold as well as some prints and cards.
A successful start in many ways. Some excellent feedback from the public; a chance to chat with other artists and friends who came along to support me; all of which I appreciated very much!
The only slight complaint about the venue is that some visitors had difficulty finding the room, as it is advertised as the farmhouse and some went into the café instead. Apart from this it is an excellent venue in a superb setting.
This leads me on to my second topic. Whilst talking to the organiser, we were discussing the fact that cutbacks were effecting galleries, such as my own local one Salford Art Gallery. We saw this as a bad thing but were surprised when he said there had been some good outcomes from these cutbacks.
He explained that as a venue, they now had to look at other forms of income and this had led to the inclusion of all sorts of activities at the park and the gallery.
We have recently visited Whitby and noted that the town now offered several themed weekends to encourage people to visit. This had made the town even more popular and an all year round destination.
We noted that Astley Hall and park was organising several such events. On Sunday was Apple Day, where stalls were set up and local growers and societies provided activities for families. You could buy apples, press your own juice or try for the longest peel. A local choir sang and a wicker workshop took place allowing members of the public to have a go!
Also this month they have arranged a Pumpkin day on the 27th October and a Fright Film Night on the 31st, where they intend to show horror films in the old hall.
Activities such as these encourage the community to keep coming back and also raise money for the upkeep of the buildings.
In the park there is an historic old house, walled garden and room featuring World War 1 history, several activity rooms and of course a superb café. The Gallery is part of a community hub and has only been refurbished four years ago. It contains an art gallery, community gallery and local history hub where people can come and research their family history.
Looking at this and talking to some of the visitors with Salford connections, we all thought of the mansion in Buile Hill park. Here is an excellent site for a similar hub. The Mining museum could be refurbished and the other rooms used for a wide range of activities. The gardens could be replanted and activities organised to bring the local people in, as well as extra funding could be arranged from grants. This once great park could be restored to it's former glory with a little foresight by the council.
I realise that Ordsall Hall offers some of these things and Peel Park has had money spent on it, but Salford has a great heritage site just waiting to be developed and at the moment it is falling into ruin just like Monk's Hall, which was a fantastic building in the past.
Greater effort should be made to get grants to do this work, I personally can't see that the small market town of Chorley is more financially sound than Salford but what they have achieved at Astley Hall should be an example to other authorities.