I was cycling past Combridge Fine Art Gallery in Dublin today and I saw a sign in the window which read: “Closing Down Sale – 50% off”. Dear, oh dear, what a shocker. How many years ago was it that I first went into that gallery and nervously showed my paintings to Mr. Sibley? Well I couldn’t say for sure but I can tell you that Combridge’s was the first gallery that I approached and, luckily for me, Mr Sibley was a gentleman and he took an interest in my work.
I talked to him today and he told me that his father founded the gallery in Grafton Street in 1907. When I approached him, they had moved it to Suffolk Street but now it was ending its days on South William Street. Many famous Irish artists like Paul Henry, Frank McKelvey and Percy French had exhibited in this gallery in the past but now… “nobody’s buying art”, he said.
What must we do? How are we supposed to live? I felt really sorry for Mr. Sibley as he bravely tried to sell off the remaining stock in Dublin’s oldest art gallery. “Over 100 years selling and promoting Irish art” was the catch phrase but now, it was all over. I dunno. I generally don’t be thinking of buyers when I’m making art. I get an idea and I just try it out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but hopefully people appreciate what I’m trying to do – at least some of the time. But then again, it’s nice when someone actually buys something, it’s a great boost.
Above, you can see one of the works that I’m putting into the group exhibition Tondo @ the Lighthouse (which opens on Sunday 26th of August at Wicklow Head ). It’s a pencil drawing on paper, one of three. Its title is: ‘Night’, the others are entitled: ‘Morning’ and ‘Noon’. They measure 80cm x 60cm each. I think of them as a tribute to the lighthouse keepers who kept watch from morning til night til morning, 365 days of the year. These works won’t be framed but simply pinned to the wall inside the lighthouse. So they won’t be too expensive… But it’s not about the money, art is not about making sales, it’s about making art. We needed the likes of Mr. Sibley to look after the sales.