Whilst looking out through our dusty windows today, as work progresses on the transformation of The Friends Meeting House building into Toppings Bookshop, it was great to see a certain bobbing woolly hat pass steadily by. I immediately recognised the gait to be that of Jean, a great friend and long-time visitor to the gallery. She was the first person to come in during the previous lockdown, so the sight of her passing the gallery today was very welcome, and I am taking it as a propitious omen of good things to come.

I dashed outside for a catch-up and Jean is about to have a long-awaited and much-anticipated visit from family members, so was making her way to the shops to get some food in. It was a real treat to see her and to see her looking so excited about seeing her family again.

Here is Jean (aged 90 and a half), from September’s visit:








Jean commented on the tall vase by Matt Horne she could see through the window, and how much nicer it was in the flesh.
She always gives me her frank opinions of the ceramics on show. The vase in question:









Only 11 days until we open. I am looking forward most to people actually coming to see this brilliant show by Nathan Ford.

It is Nathan’s 10th exhibition. I have known him over 20 years and he is as fascinating and interesting as a man as he is as an artist.

If you haven’t already please read the essay I wrote about his work- it is under the ‘writing’ tab here (or click on the image of Nathan below, where he is laying out the lock-down paintings pre- exhibition).










Please note, there will be several new works in the show which no-one has seen either online, in the flesh or on social media.

One thing that has struck me especially during lock-down is how convenient it is to cultivate an online existence. Beneficial as it is to make the most of the opportunities that online platforms provide for viewing work, there is really nothing like the real thing.
Indeed the sculptor Anna Gillespie was saying that she felt this was even more true of paintings and drawings than sculpture. The image of the object on the screen is always a translation of the experience of standing in front of a finished, framed work.
I feel this is especially true of Nathan given how much surface preparation, colour and materials research, plus the time and care that goes into the actual framing itself – seeing what Nathan and his exhibition is about is partly in the physicality of actually seeing the show, as one whole body of work.
As I type I have this painting on the back wall. It is stunning. It has been a joy to be next to it through this time, and I am so glad not to have to keep it to myself…

Nathan Ford, La Scena, Oil on Birch Wood 122 x 200 cm. £12,000








We are going to open the gallery on Sundays 17 and 24 April from 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

If there are times outside of our normal opening hours (10-5 Monday to Saturday) when you would like to visit, please contact the gallery and we will arrange a time to suit.

And finally..

I see in the evenings now the blackbirds out announcing themselves in evrey tree and on any patch of grass.
Reminded me of Wallace Stevens’s poem ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’….

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Thank you for reading and for further information or images please message me at the gallery!


Aidan Quinn