Given the extraordinary times we're living in right now, I thought it would make sense to provide an update on the business, how I'm dealing with the Covid-19 lockdown and the dream of opening an art gallery here in North Wales.
Naturally, I'd like to start by wishing all my customers, friends and followers the very best of health during the current crisis and I look forward to seing you again when things return to normal; hopefully it won't be too long.
As you can imagine, this is a tough time for artists, as it is for so many small businesses. All of the 'physical' galleries through which I usually sell are closed, although several have responded in super quick time by setting up online sales and exhibitions, including Oriel Ty Meirion, Williamson Gallery, and Creates Gallery, all of which have some of my work on display.
I already had my own online shop but I've made things easier for customers by adding free delivery on most items and offering "virtual viewings" to respond to the fact that people can't at present see my paintings in the flesh before they buy.
On 12th March, following a really successful trial, I launched an exciting programme of pastel workshops here at Glasfryn Hall. Five days later I had to cancel them all! It was clear that the Covid-19 situation was developing rapidly. I'll re-launch the programme with new dates once there is some certainty about the country's exit from lockdown. If you'd like to be amongst the first to hear about it, just get in touch.
I did get some requests to run online workshops instead but for now I've decided against it. Mainly because the whole "USP" of my workshops was the fact that they were at the premium end of the market - an amazing location, the highest quality materials and a wonderful social experience (I'm not going to comment on the tutor) and it would be hard to replicate that online. However, I am keeping this decision under review.
Obviously, those parts of the countryside that I can't get to on foot are off-limits at the moment and that is pretty much the whole of North Wales, including Snowdonia, which has always been my main artistic focus. However, I have enough photographs and sketches from previous visits to keep me busy for a while. When they run out, I'm quite excited at the prospect of trying something new. This could be my opportunity to experiment with all sorts of things: still life, portraits, other media and some different artistic styles.
In terms of my plans for an art and craft gallery here at Glasfryn Hall, these haven't as yet been affected by Covid-19. That's because, unbelievably, I still haven't had a decision on the planning application so not a lot was happening anyway. In fact, it's a year since the application went in and what a depressing 12 months it has been, dealing with our local planning authority (as a former planning officer, I feel I'm allowed to say that). Having spoken to lots of other local businesses who've experienced the same, I'm not sure whether it's Covid-19 or Flintshire County Council that is the greatest threat to small businesses in our part of the world. However, the irony is that their staggering slowness and utter incompetence has proven to be a blessing in disguise. If they'd approved our plans when I'd hoped they would, I'd have just outlayed a load of money and opened the gallery only to immediately have to shut it down again!
So, all of these clouds appear to have a silver lining. Keep safe, stay home and I look forward to welcoming you to Oriel Glasfryn Gallery when all this is over.