Soon I’ve picked every berry in the garden! So far we’ve made black currant cordial, red currant jelly with mint, red berry syrup and red gooseberry marmalade. The husband has made “No mango sauce”, a hot sweet fruity chili sauce with lots of canned fruit but no mango(hence the name), and the traditional thai garlic chili jam Nam Prik Phao. It’s like Santas workshop in the kitchen. I’ve also been baking loads of cakes. Every weekend during summer we keep the gallery open and soon it’s time for the yearly “Art wave”. The busiest weekend for us of the whole year. We’re planning on selling plenty of cakes, garden goodness and hopefully some of my photographs as well. I’ve invited another artist to sell her glass artwork in the gallery. She thought it would be fun to combine our products so we did a little photo shoot of her glass vases and some of the little chicks. What is it they say? Never work with kids or animals…well we had a lot of fun but it sure wasn’t easy! I made some quick prints in the darkroom before the weekend, now they say it’s gonna rain for a week so I’ll have lots of time to make more without feeling guilty about missing out on the sunshine. The youngest chicks got rained on for the first time today, they weren’t happy at all! They all let me catch them without trouble to go under the heating lamp in the basement. Growing fast I’m pretty sure they can stay out in the henhouse with the rest soon but I’ll pamper them just a little bit longer…
Preparations have been going on for weeks baking and making pictures to sell. Last weekend we had a xmas market in the gallery and this Saturday it’s time to do it all over again. I baked loads of cakes, biscotti and meringues. My husband made Daal and surprisingly it was a best seller! We had potato and leek for the less adventurous visitors but most people still chose the spicy Indian Daal. For this weekend I’ve baked mini meringues (chocolate, vanilla and liquorice) and some more cake. We will do the Daal and also a tomato soup with focaccia. I’ll be making wet plates of visitors that they can buy if they are happy with the result. This morning I took a break from all preparations and helped out for some charity. Sometimes when you have so much to do your head is spinning it’s nice to just take some time off and do something else, the world will seize to exist. So for two hours I sat counting how many sacks, boxes etc that the second hand shop in the harbour Hönö Klova Second Hand have collected for Rumania. They do this 2-3 times a year but before xmas it’s a bit special. They send off boxes of food that the generous islanders have given, this year 63 food boxes. On top of that sacks of clothes, furniture, beds etc. Everything is named with either the names of the families who will receive it or villages. It’s all very organised and I think it’s good to know that all the help will actually reach the goal. I did feel a bit sorry for everyone carrying everything(while I sat counting), my guess is the average age is above 60 for all of them(hope I don’t offend anyone!). In spite of bad backs, shoulders etc they had after two hours packed a huge trailer with 200 sacks, 120 boxes, 14 beds, a freezer, 3 hospital beds, a wheel chair and a lot more. Very impressive I think!
The gallery was open at the weekend. 3 photographers and me had pictures on show and also selling cakes and postcards. I had put Christmas lights up on the outside and framed the windows with green branches. Thought to buy Christmas tree branches from the flowershop but realised that I had everything I needed in my garden. It looked so nice, cosy and Christmassy! Bloody freezing though. The temperature dropped to a few minus degrees(celsius) and there is no heat in the barn whatsoever. In the evening I walked around indoors wearing 2 pairs of stockings, a pair of trousers, slippers, hat, woolly scarf and 3 jumpers to warm up… Saturday we had lots of visitors but Sunday not many people braved the biting icy wind. The hens don’t seem to mind the cold. At one time they all came up to the barn, to peoples amusement. All in all a great weekend though! We sold my husbands sourdough bread and lots of jars with Nam prik pho and rest of the blackberry jam I made in autumn. I couldn’t help myself buying one of the other photographers photos so now I have a small collection on my wall(well two) and not only my pictures. I sold a few handmade necklaces as well as photos. A few weeks ago I started making them. The first ones looked fantastic and I was overjoyed for a few days, until a couple of days later when they had gone green. Panic! After lots of Googling I found out that loads of people have had the same problem. Now I’ve swapped glue and clean the glass, same as I do with the wet plates and it seems to do the trick! it’s so much fun making them and they look great. I don’t have to buy Christmas presents this year.
Finally!! April the 23:d 2013 I started the adventure Starting on the barn turning the dump of a barn into a gallery. Leading up to the premiere I’ve been so stressed fixing the last things, painting signs, advertising etc etc that I’ve hardly eaten or slept for weeks. It was worth it though. I opened Friday and there were more people than expected and Saturday people absolutely flooded the place from opening and carried on until after closing. The photographer that I had chosen for the opening is called Karin Berglund. Karin has been working as a journalist for thirty years and she’s written and photographed a number of garden books. Every year she goes on numerous garden trips around the world for inspiration, to write stories and photograph. I was flattered and surprised that she said yes when I asked her. Karin’s pictures, gum bichromates and photo gravures, brought the walls to life and I think the other way around as well. I wished to sell at least one picture to make it feel even more worthwhile for her but ended up selling three! I had so much positive respons and praise during the two days that I’m overwhelmed. While talking to one guest and explaining how much work the whole transformation has taken I surprised myself by almost crying. Silly I know but it’s been such a journey with real blood sweat and tears. Now it’s done and I am very much looking forward to future happenings in there. A friend of mine who’s a photographer, her name is Eva Brandin, sent me some pictures she took so I’ll post them here because I think she really managed to catch the beauty of the new gallery. Now I’m going to bed very happy but very very tired.
Counting the minutes until the opening I worked in the barn/gallery all day today until dark. I chalked one of the walls, it took 3 layers of chalky water but looks really good now when dry. Then sandpapered and painted the workbench, twice. I found some nice pieces of wood for signs. One of them was the right length but looked too new so I tea stained it, see my old blog post for more on how it’s done. I printed out large letter at the library the other day and cut them out. Placed them on the wood and after a lot of measuring and taping I filled the letters with white paint. Because I used too much paint at some places it spilled under the templates a bit but I think it adds to the charm. There was an old window that had been sealed up at the back of the barn and I opened it up. By a whim I placed some old bottles there that I found under the old floor when I dug it out. The light that fell through later in the evening when I cleared the window frame was absolutely magic.
My old neighbour popped his head in during the day. Always great to have someone to give you advice and it most times it turns into stories from the old days. He went silent for a while just watching me work and then turned his head up and said -Well if the economy turns bad you have great beams. I must admit I was a bit puzzled. I gathered that he he was talking about selling the wood or something? Then he told me the story of a man born on the island. This man had an old cow and an old horse with a wagon that he sold things from. When he became old people told him that he had to get rid of his cow. Then they told him he had to get rid of his horse. The day after they found him hanging from one of the beams in his barn. So sad. We both agreed on that it would have been better that he’d gotten to keep them until the end of his days and reassured my neighbour that I would have no plans of using my beams for that ever. I’m planning to beat my neighbours age and he’s 96 and still going strong.
I’ve been waiting all summer for an official go-ahead with the barn, because I am changing the use of it from storage to gallery. Now I’ve had a Yes! Wohoo! I’ve set the opening date to October the 9th so I have about a month to do the last preparations. Plenty of time to procrastinate, as my husband would say. So instead of finishing the last details with lights etc I did some wet plates. It’s great to be able to use the barn as a studio now when the weather is changing so rapidly. I wanted to do a shot that I’d been thinking about for a while. I have this big world map globe from my grandfather(which can also be used as a lamp) and thought it would look nice on a plate. Realised pretty quickly that I’d forgotten about the wet plate colour map! The collodion doesn’t treat colours the normal way so when I lit up the globe it became mainly orange and green which with the collodion turned black. Looks kinda cool though and turned out great when I made one on glass(Ambrotype). I had asked my cousins daughter to come around to model. She did an amazing job. How can anyone stand still, not blink and smile in a natural way for 25 seconds? When the first plate was perfect I couldn’t help thinking it would go bad somehow but the last plate ended up being my favourite.
Woke up five this morning thinking about the lights in the barn. I just started doubting everything the last couple of days. Did I buy the wrong lights? Are they strong enough? Is it going to look rubbish? etc etc. This always happens when a large exhibition is coming up, I double think everything and leave it until the last minute when I get into the flow. At 7am I decided that I would have to work with what I’d bought and soon enough I got some of them up and working. What a relief! It looks great when they are on and I don’t think the track lights are the first thing people will see when there are pictures on the walls. I drilled holes in a piece of wood and attached the imported lamps that I bought(you can see them here) in the ceiling. I love the light they add, very warm and cosy. For more inspiration the whole family went to an exhibition down the harbour. We actually went to the opening last night but there were so many people that you could hardly see the art! There are these couple of artists, who are also building their own gallery who don’t live on the island but seem to spend most of their time here. They make the most amazing paintings and sculptures, truly unique. When I get rich and famous I will order a copy of our house and barn. The exhibition took place in a carpenters studio, a guy who specialises in boatbuilding and woodwork. A very talented musician showed his talents in drawing funny characters and entertained on the guitar (find him on slide guitar on youtube)with his daughter on vocals. Another daughter sold self designed and handmade jewellery(a very talented family!). So much inspiration, I think I’m over the self doubting part now, time to move on and get stuff done!