Thursday, 6 October 2011

Come back when youre famous

   I think it was the year of 1973 and I was working in a converted cattleshed workshop on the outskirts of Bath. The rent was £5 per week. I called myself 'The Bath Carpenter' and took on a variety of work ranging from trimming the bottom of doors (fitted carpets had made their debut then0, to building fitted wardrobes and kitchens which paid the way for me to speculate on my individualistic contemporary furniture designs. I used an anonymous title as I felt good design should sell on its own merits rather than rely on a name, a rather naive view.
   There were no outlets for my furniture. It was too modern. I did manage to persuade the owner of a local Persian Carpet shop to put one of my rocking chairs in front of one of his expensive carpets in the window and he took just ten percent.
   There were two craft galleries in Bath at the time; Coexistence and Centaur Designs. I remember the tall female owner of Coexistence looking down on me and asking whether I had been to the Royal College of Art. I had more breeding in my little toe! I politely withdrew from her exclusive gallery and walked across the road to Centaur Designs with my portfolio. I showed a picture of my rocking chair and said it had been selected for a major London exhibition called "Wood". In his put down I recall the proprietor saying 'Let's wait and see what happens from the London exhibition' which in effect was code for 'come back when you are famous'.
   A few years later a gallery owner in the north of England telephoned me invited me to show my work at an exhibition. I asked her didn't she want to see my portfolio. 'No she said' reassuringly 'That's not necessary, we know your work'.
   2011 footnote: Was this licence to put in a Grayson Perry type appearance?

 The converted cattleshed workshop in Milton Avenue, Bath

A short extract from 'Missing Jean' by Jeremy Broun

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