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Wednesday 15 July 2020 – the Opening of York Printmakers
Today is the launch of our Online only EXHIBITION for York Printmakers. I wish we could have hung the work in the gallery and had a proper opening, but it is just not possible. So instead we have offered the York Printmakers group a different arrangement whereby…
The gallery commission is reduced (so that the artists can either sell at a lower price or receive a bigger payment for work sold
The artist will deliver or send the items as they are sold
Pyramid Gallery will promote the artists via our newsletter, website and social media, all through the rest of summer (what summer? I hear you say… I am sure it is coming back!)
Please click on the banner above to go direct to the Online Exhibition
Thank you for looking, and thank you on behalf of the artists for any purchases you might make. Terry Brett, Pyramid Gallery
Friday 3 July 2020 – re-opening by appointment
Today I have made the important decision to bring some of the team back into the gallery on half time/half furlough. Yes…. Fi will be back on Monday morning, getting me organised again and chatting to all our lovely customers. And Sarah will be in Monday afternoon and starting work again on the website. I have been doing the website while Sarah has been furloughed and it is getting depleted of things to buy. I have been kept busy with websales and this has prevented me from attending to the important and time consuming matter of adding new items.
One thing that has been added is the booking system. I don’t feel ready to simply opening the doors to the public. I feel uncomfortable about people who I do not know just walking in, especially if I am on my own. I feel uncomfortable, because it is difficult to gauge whether the customer is comfortable with the situation in a small space. It’s much easier for me if I know that the person coming into my shop has been in before! So I have commissioned my webdesigner ( Mark Richards of The Creative Agency) to provide me with a booking system.
If you wish to come and browse in Pyramid, you can either
a. KNOCK on the DOOR (and if no other customer is in, we will let you in)
b. Log into this website and BOOK a TIME SLOT on our booking system. Hopefully, if it as good as Mark promised, then it will also send a text to your phone as a reminder.
We have so far taken small steps to precautions, which are as follows:
- One person or one family group at a time. The door is then locked. (however, with those peoples permission, I have sometimes allowed another in, but only if both agree)
- We have some hand gel and invite the customer to use that
- We have rubber gloves for when we are using the till and card machine
- We will try and get visors for staff to wear next week, but at the time of writing, I do not have these.
That’s it, so far, but on Monday we shall decide some other procedures. In my view (and this is based on the science that I have heard on Radio 4 !) the virus is not likely to pass from one person to another if that person is not showing symptoms, but to make sure, both should wash hands often and not rub eyes or touch face. The social distancing requirement of 1 metre separation should also be adhered to.
The brass door handle is made of mostly copper and copper kills the virus within 4 hours. So we will wash that from time to time.
As for jewellery, it would seem that silver also kills the virus quite quickly, but current advice seems to suggest that it can live on metal surfaces for anything up to 5 days. We will isolate any jewellery or other items or clean it before re-displaying. We will offer disposal gloves to anybody who wants to handle items in the shop
We shall also be washing our counter between customers.
We will be careful and restrict the numbers of people coming in, but would recommend to anyone coming into Pyramid Gallery that they wear their own gloves to make sure they are really safe.
This week has been a good one for sales. For the first time in 3 months, my weekly sales are on a par with a normal June week. This is mostly due to a gold and diamond ring by Diana Porter being paid for and collected on Tuesday, and yesterday the very pleasing sale of a large screenprint by Sir Terry Frost. But many others have made purchases this week as well, including
Helen Martino pots today, a Naomi James ring today, Karen Thomas Earrings, a Michael Simpson hare and two mice, a Brian Dawson flying wooden bird, Ruth Claydon earrings, a Tom Payne ceramic man, a David Meredith bronze snail, a Dinny Pocock Wren and Penny Warren Studs
Thank you everyone who has come in or phoned and made purchases – you have renewed my faith in this wonderful business that has survived all sorts of challenges and traumas over the past 26 years in which in have been running it! It’s all about people – those who make the work, those who work in here, those who purchase the work and those enjoy wearing it or displaying it in their homes. Thank you so much! Terry
Monday 15 June 2020
So, I can open today if I wish. SKY News came and visited me at 12 noon and did a live interview with the reporter Gerard Tubb and camera inside the shop and me standing out in the street! I told them that I would not be opening, except by appointment. And that I would like to see an initiative to help landlords halve the rents.
Lots of people have emailed me to say they saw it go out live, so I am very excited about that! You can watch it by clicking below
I will not be opening just yet – I don’t feel up to that challenge yet. But I hope to start an appointments system in about two weeks time, that will be online. In the mean time, if you in town and want to come and look, just bang on the door and I will let you in, if nobody else is in, and then lock the door again. But, the shop will not be sterilised or disinfected. I have got hand gel though. I can wear a mask too. There will be some work at reduced prices. Some of those will appear on the Strange Days summer show webpage , so please come and look here regularly over the next few weeks. Basically, I am going to be trying to clear my stockroom – and there is a lot of stuff in there that I have put away over the years, because I just cannot bear to see it go back to the artist. Also, some artists have offered to reduce their prices on exhibition work that we have had in the gallery recently. I need to build up a fund that will pay the overheads through to next Spring! Some items on this website are already reduced, but more will be added everyweek.
Also, at the same time, I was talking to many of our artists in the chat room at BCTF , British Craft Trade Fair, where today I presented the BCTF AWARD for EXCELLENCE which is sponsored by Pyramid Gallery. I did my presentation by means of a video. The winner is Erum Aamir ceramics and the runners up are Caroline Finlay and Dreya Bennett Glass
We shall be exhibiting the work of all three winners in 2021, or before
I still do not know how to proceed with opening the shop. I would need two staff always, one just to control the door so that only 1 customer could be in. So I’m not opening in June. I have worked almost every day since mid April, with just 6 days off, though much of that at home. I want to take a view days off to visit my new grandson who was born on April 27th and also to sit and watch the re-run of the best Glastonbury gigs, over the weekend of 27th
Saturday 13 June 2020
York is preparing itself for re-opening of shops on Monday 15th June. I’m not……. but I am now working at the gallery everyday. There is so much to do, with all the online sales activity (alot of queries from potential customers, and quite a few very nice sales from this website)
I have just taken an order for a sunflower glass sculpture by Colin Reid. This is very exciting (always is when a big piece of glass is sold). We are asking Colin to make a new one, like the piece we have here, because it is to be sent to an address in France. But I am keeping the existing piece, just in case our customer decides to have the one he has already seen. Either way, I shall still have one and the customer will have the one he likes best.
Thursday 28 May 2020
This month seems to have passed very quickly! Maybe because it has been mostly sunny. Since writing the previous entry here, I feel I have been spending much more time working for the business and less time indulging in drawing rabbits. I have been in the gallery much more. And that is because there have been many websales. Thank everyone who has click and purchased!
Sales have been better than I had expected. The only problem for me is that it difficult to keep up with. Web sales are hard work compared to gallery sales. And because we have been selling online, I feel more pressure to keep the website up to date. I find that I can only work at the computer for so long – it makes me sleepy!
As for re-opening the shop, I am not planning to do this quickly. Because of the restricted space near the staircase, I feel we cannot conform to the rules about distancing. So instead, I will devise a way for customers to book a time slot. I shall have to have a phone-in system. Or I can just let people bang on the door!
I have added more items on our exhibition that is still on display in the gallery (until Monday evening, when much of Piers Browne’s wonderful etchings and paintigs of the Yorkshire Dales will be taken down and returned). Helen Martino’s, Hannah Arnup’s and Anne Marie Fieber’s work will remain here for a while and I shall make sure there is a good representation of that work on this website. Please take a look ….
Thursday 7 May 2020
We have a new website! A more secure site with neater operation and appearance on a mobile device. If there any problems you experience with it, please do let me know
I have received my first three week’s Workers Retention Scheme grant – it works! I can claim for my second period of three weeks now. All 4 members of the team are remaining on furlough. I am having to do everything myself. It’s very difficult to keep up with it all. I’m not as efficient as Fi at the admin and not used to working so many hours at the computer. However, I having managed to get 80% of the exhibition for the CGS on the website. I am aiming to get the rest done by the end of Friday. Last night I gave a talk to 49 CGS members in a Zoom meeting that lasted about 45 minutes. It was a very stimulating and enjoyable experience. If I find a way of sharing the recording of the talk with you all, then I will put it on here
We have had several orders for things over the internet or telephone this week. Thank you everyone for your continued support. Stay Safe. Terry x
Saturday 2 May 2020
well, today would have been the opening of our Glass exhibition Life Forms. We started planning the exhibition early in 2019, with the Contemporary Glass Society. 87 glass artists applied to be in the show and during a long session in December, glass artist Effie Burns, CGS Administrator Pam Reekie and I picked 34 applicants to exhibit their work. Such a lot of work has been put into this show, especially by the artists, that we simply couldn’t just abandon it because of Corona Virus. Here’s the thing….. The show was inspired by the 200th anniversary of the launch of HMS Beagle on 11 May 1818. The very ship that took Charles Darwin on two voyages to the Galapagos. The very ship that enabled the study of 15 different species of Finches on 15 islands that provided Darwin with clear evidence that life forms evolved according the principle of ‘survival of the fittest’. And that all these millions of life forms have evolved from simple cell creatures and bacteria. Likewise the viruses. And it is a virus that has caused this exhibition to be postponed, in the strangest of circumstances.
We cannot let this magnificent exhibition be postponed. So, here it is offered for your pleasure as an ONLINE EXHIBITION. Next year in March, we hope to show the actual glass exhibits. But right now you may purchase any of the exhibits here and now.
This has been quite difficult for me. I normally do some of the website, but my assistant Sarah does the bulk of it. Sarah is on furlough, so I am having to prepare every image and every word. I find that it sends me to sleep. I can only process the pictures for about an hour, then I need to go outside. Each maker entry and a few products tends to take about 40 minutes to prepare. So, it isn’t yet finished! Please come and look again on wednesday, when all will be done.
Also on wednseday I am presenting a ZOOM lecture to the Contemporary Glass Society. If you are a member (any one can join Contemporary Glass Society) then you will receive an invitation to the ZOOM lecture, which will occur at 7.30pm on weds 6th. Hopefully, there will be a video recording of it. I will put a link up on this page. Part of the lecture will be the animation that I have produced for my Youtube channel. A link to that is going to be put on the Life Forms web page which can be accessed by clicking the picture above.
Lockdown and Pyramid Gallery
People ask me how we are coping with the lockdown situation. It is going well. We have had many sales via this website and over the phone and the shop income for April was about 20% the normal total. This is survivable, thanks to the grant that I received (see below) and the cancelling of business rates. I have applied recently for the first 3 weeks furlough payment. But not yet received the money… probably because I have since discovered that I got the dates wrong. People who know me well will know that I seem to have date dyslexia. How can I possibly have got the dates wrong on such an important application?
HMRC Furlogh Application
Well, it is because I worked out the date from the calendar as start date mon 23rd March until sunday 12th April. But the process to login and enter all the staff details on the HMRC website took so long, that when I came to enter the start date, I took the date from the payslip for the first week. The pay week starts monday but the programme that I use puts the submission date on the payslip, which happened to be a Tuesday (the 24th March). That’s how I got it wrong. Who knows what happens now? It could take hours of phone calls to resolve. I have been admonishing myself for this error every morning every afternoon and every evening for 6 days now.
SQUINTY McGINTY will present another Crescent Cabaret in York on Friday 16th October
The only thing that has distracted me from the lurking dread in my brain was watching Steve Huison on television last night – they showed the Full Monty on BBC last night in which Steve (who is Squinty McGinty in the forth coming second Crescent Cabaret on friday 16 October 2020) played the part of ‘Lomper’ in what has to be one of the most entertaining films ever made. Tickets for the cabaret will be available when we are sure that the lockdown will end.
Saturday 18 April 2020
Today would have been the main event for York Open Studios. The many artists who had been selected for this years event have been busy all winter making work and painting pictures. Their studios are full. So Pyramid Gallery has put together the Strange Days, Art behind the Doors, to enable art lovers to find some of that work online . Please have a look by clicking the picture or CLICK HERE
And also still available are all the items in the terrific exhibition FULL SUNLIGHT – still out on display in the gallery! but available for purchase by CLICKING HERE
I’m delighted that we have already had a few substantial sales and thank those who have made purchases. We offer free delivery in York or any YO postcode. To get that free delivery at the moment, please contact me directly and I will arrange payment for you and discuss how to get the work to you. If you use the website to purchase, it will automatically add £7.95 at the check out. (we are working on a different way to apply delivery cost and the new website should be ready during the coming week)
I am feeling very positive about the business at the moment – we have received the RETAIL BUSINESS GRANT, which will help pay the overheads and rent. The interest we have had in the website is really encouraging. Planning for the end of lockdown is going to be challenging, but I expect I will do that gradually – opening just a few hours to start with and keeping the staff furloughed as long as possible . There will not be any tourists for a long while. Most of our business is with regulars who live close to York, so I shall make it very clear the times of opening when it happens.
and of course we can easily do GIFT VOUCHERS and send these in the post
again, contact TERRY by his mobile DIRECT to purchase these easily on 078 0502 9254. Gift Vouchers can be sent out on normal post – we have a system whereby if they get lost, we can cancel the lost voucher and send another.
Tuesday Afternoon 14 April 2020
Relief! I have just received an email confirming that I will be receiving the Retail Business Grant, withing the next two days!
Thank you City of York Rates department – I am eternally grateful to you.
Suddenly I feel less anxious. I can start to plan, and not worry about the next few months.
I can perhaps now say why I was anxious. When I received the letter from the council about applying for the grant, I noticed to my horror that my ex-wife Elaine was still listed as a partner in the business partnership that was Pyramid Gallery. That was 12 years ago. Up until last October, she was still a leaseholder. But i renewed the lease in October in just my name. I didn’t think to tell the council about this change and I was worried that it would invalidate my claim to the grant. Thankfully, officialdom has looked and this and made the right decision. It would have been awful to have not been able to access these funds, just because I forgot to fill in a form 6 months previous! PHEW
Tuesday Morning 14 April 2020
I have convinced myself over the bank holiday that my application for a Retail Business will be refused. And today, there is no evidence that I have been given this vital grant. I try to contact the Rates department at York City council, but am told (by a friendly person) that I can only do so by email. I haven’t received a reply to my email and haven’t received the money. It is very frustrating
I am kind of resigned to this being a very prolonged issue! so instead am making plans for how to carry on the business even if I cannot get the grant. I have formulated a plan that is workable, that I cannot explain here at the moment. But I know that I can keep the gallery going in the premises that we currently occupy. The only problem is, I think I will make very little income over the next twelve months. Still better than closing!
The problems ahead are these….. When lockdown finishes, I shall have to open the shop. But there will be very few customers. There will be no tourists. Many of my regular customers will feel less likely to come into the city, because the scary situation that we currently have will not go away. Maybe not for a full year.
Some people will know that they have had the virus and therefore will feel less vulnerable. They will take fewer precautions. But how will the rest of know if we are safe or not? Some of us will carry the new phone app, that will tell us if we have come close to another (also using the phone app) who has symptoms of the virus. Clever though it will be, it will only warn us after being close to another person who reported symptoms of the virus some days later. It doesn’t help us feel safe. So those who have not had the virus, will still not be able to go into the city centre and feel safe.
The dilemma for me, and all other businesses in York, is that , when we are told to reopen, then our staff must come back to work. But there will be no work, and I will not be able to pay the wages.
Still… I am very fortunate. I have received messages from people that I met in India in February. These are a young couple who were running a small shack selling bedspreads and tourist gifts. They are at the end of tourist season now and have had a miserable time, as they were in February (due to the collapse of Thomas Cook). Now they have no money and they cannot get food. I asked if the government will provide food and received a text back ‘The Indian government does not give food!’ . At least I am not worried about not being able to get food.
I hope everyone who reads this is safe and well. My worrying about business must seem inappropriate to anyone who is at risk or has a relation who is suffering or in a care home – I know that my concerns are about things far less important than health and well being. I am very grateful for not having to worry about such things and my sympathy goes out to all those who are affected.
10 April 2020 Good Friday
I am unable to sleep and am writing this at 4.30am having been woken by a dream in which I was in hospital, my legs and arms having been amputed! My instinct tells me to get up and go to the river to watch the dawn which will be 6.15am, but first I am wanting to write something on here. That is partly because I have not been able to get everything done, because I cannot do my work effectively (is that surprising , if i believe my limbs have been amputated?)
There are three reasons for this. The first is that I am constantly distracted by social media (much of which is wonderfully creative and fun) and any news about coronavirus and the threat of recession. The second is that everything to do with Pyramid Gallery is now on computer. And using the computer itself makes me sleepy. The third reason is that I am so anxious about waiting to be awarded the Coronavirus Business Grant.
Many businesses in York have already received the grant, but I have heard nothing. I rang the council yesterday, but they would only tell me that I cannot check the position until Tuesday, as there are so many applicants (3400) and the team were working all hours to get through a backlog.
Despite the lockdown, there is much to do in the business. There is all the year end stuff to do, including a stock take. There is re-organising of the stock rooms to do and decorating. But that is made difficult because I cannot go to the waste tip, I cannot go to my rented storeroom at SelfStore, and I cannot visit artists to return framed pictures, which are taking up all the space.
We were to be hosting a major exhibition with the Contemporary Glass Society in May, which has now been postponed. Our intention now is to put a virtual show online, and host the actual show in 2021. But this itself involves many hours looking at the computer screen.
Running a gallery is usually very enjoyable. Just being in a room full of art is enjoyable, and arranging the displays is always a pleasure. But trying to engage with the art via a computer screen does not feel natural. More time is spent preparing images and saving files and writing words about the ‘product’ than is spent looking at the ‘art’. When I am in the gallery, arranging a new show, I feel motivated, excited and energetic. When I am writing about a show on a computer, I feel I want to be doing something else!
So, the thing to do now ….. create a page on this website for the CGS glass show. Do it quickly, then go and see the dawn and get back in time for breakfast. Gill and I have breakfast in bed every morning at exactly 6.40. It’s a great way to start everyday, that I would recommend to everyone. Forty five minutes of not getting up and not switching on a computer!
2 April 2020
Having closed the gallery on 23 March, the gallery team (Fi, Sarah, Sammy and Ali) have, like most other people, been confined to home, unless taking exercise (once a day) or buying essentials (but not decorating materials).
And for me it means I am running things from home, with occasional visits to the gallery, to check security, watch pigeons and wrap items for posting. At first I couldn’t bring myself to work. I couldn’t locate my business brain.
So I did this….. (after looking at the video, press the BACK button to get back here)
and then I did this…
but, I am happy to be able to say that I have recovered from 3 days creative isolation and now able to focus once again on important matters, such as….
Pyramid Gallery staff are all at home. Being creative in their own individual ways, hopefully resting , possibly exercising. Yes, they are all on Furlough. They are being paid 80% of their average wages for not working. And the government should be applauded for this bizarre arrangement, as it has relieved any thoughts I might have had about having to make redundancies. I approve of the scheme completely and am happy that they can keep safe. But it also gives me a challenge and creates a strange new stress – I am confused as to how to work the scheme. It’s a stress because I am worried about paying more than they are entitled to and then being out of pocket. The HMRC has given some guidance on their website, but leaves me with a sense that something is bound to go wrong. If I do it wrong, will I be able to correct it? or just be left out of pocket. Staff wages is my largest monthly expense. This problem will tip many businesses that are barely profitable over the edge. The website says that I have to register those who are on furlough, but there is nowhere to register. The HMRC are still creating that page of their website. To me, there is clear evidence that successive governments have failed to plan for a pandemic and that they are plucking weird solutions and schemes out of the air.
I am very pleased to have been told that I should be entitled to a grant for the shop premises. It’s good. I am grateful at the prospect of a grant, but again there is anxiety…. I now have an expectation that this grant will be paid and with that comes anxiety. I applied as soon as the website was made available and am now awaiting confirmation that my application has been successful. This is stressful. How long will it take? My landlord is the National Trust. I have just now paid them the rent for April, in the expectation that the grant will be approved – but what if there is some administrative delay? If I was not expecting the grant, then I would be saying to my landlord that I expect a reduction in rent. I find it a challenge to exclude such anxieties from my mind. I shall not be able to relax properly until the grant arrives. And, it goes through my mind, I can’t help but think that successive governments have failed to plan for a pandemic and that they are plucking weird solutions and schemes out of the air.
Help for Self Employed
After much delay, the government announced last week that there would be help for self employed. I watched breakfast BBC eagerly for a full explanation. There was a phone-in with an expert. And now there is confusion. I am self employed (I am not on the PAYE scheme) but I am a ‘sole trader’. The expert stated that the self employed scheme does not apply to ‘sole-traders’. Immediately I phoned my accountant – I was told that I am self employed and would be entitled to the 80% payments. But I am only 80% confident that this is the case. A payment of 80% will be really welcome. I could just close the gallery completely and pretend I was retired. But I cannot do this…. because I am not certain. And the uncertainty will carry on until the end of June, because the government have invented this scheme just last week. The HMRC are not prepared for it and that is because the government have done no planning for a pandemic, and I do not trust their promises.
Anyway, I can’t just take time off relaxing – I have a shop full of work owned by 150 different artists and I feel responsible for that work and feel that I need to do something for the artists ( who cannot get their self-employed grants until June) . I need to be trying to sell their wonderful creations and I need to be able to say to them that I am doing what I can!
It is Pigeon season. We have such a problem with pigeons in the back yard. I don’t know why, but over the years, pigeons have become more and more of a problem. Those that have been raised in our yard come back and strut about nodding their heads and doing all sorts of strange things. Sometimes several males mob a single female. It’s not nice and their cooing and flapping put Fi off her morning coffee. About 15 years ago, my landlord, the National Trust, replaced our flimsy DIY netting with a high tech tight fitting and taught netting system. For a few years, this new netting was good. It kept the pigeons out. But eventually, the pigeons found that they could squeeze in. I still do not know how they do it. Once they are inside they cannot get out. They try and squeeze out, but get stuck. At first I just thought, well, they are pigeons. Should I be concerned?
But during one really wet summer, a couple of them got stuck and died in the net. I couldn’t get to them. Then a new restaurant opened at the back of our yard and a chef who was taking a cigarette break one night heard a pigeon flapping and called the police. The police contacted me and told me that I had to sort this out or they would have to come round! So, I cut holes in the net for the pigeons to come and go as they please. For 4 years now, we have regularly stopped them nesting by chasing them and calling them names. This has been working. Especially the name calling. The numbers of active cooing pigeons is down to two. We are on the verge of success. Until Coronavirus.
I put this to you Boris….. ‘How can Fi shout names at pigeons if she is at home?’
Once again, there is clear evidence that the government has done no planning for a pandemic. They simply have not thought this through. We are going to be overwhelmed by pestilence caused by swarms of pigeons.
Fi doesn’t work Saturdays. but Sarah often takes on the role of Pigeon Shooer. She doesn’t do name calling, but she can stare at them in a particular way that controls their minds. And if Sarah is not there, Sammy gets her sketch book out. She sketches at them and they all start to pose. No eggs are laid if Sammy is sketching. Ali though is happy to leave avian distraction duties to the others.
Now Sunday, if I am working alone, could be a problem. If I go into the yard the pigeons just flock to me, from all over the city. One of them, mostly white with appealing grey tips to its wings, sits on my shoulder and taunts me by cooing into my ear ‘Tesla, Tesla’ but I know it is not telling me about the invention of Alternating Current or about electric cars. This pigeon with its beautiful plumage and endearing coo, is attempting to tease me by calling me by my least favourite childhood nickname ‘Tezza, Tezza’. So, I try not to go into the yard. Fortunately pigeons don’t lay eggs on Sundays.
if you click the link below, you can read more about pigeons and the invention of Alternating Current
but you might prefer……..
The exhibition FULL SUNLIGHT which is now in the gallery
and includes new work by PETER LAYTON
please CLICK HERE for the STRANGE DAYS York Artists Exhibition
More of my hang-ups to follow!
thank you for reading, I feel much better now
(PS all these matters are trivial. I am really far more concerned about all those whose health and wellbeing are seriously compromised by the effects of Covid19. I am extremely grateful that I am in a position to sit here on my sofa and share these trivial concerns with everyone. I sincerely hope that suffering is kept to a minimum and am concerned and sad for those that are affected. We must now do as the buffoon in charge instructs without complaint, so that the virus is kept at bay. Then we can ask of our government why their own predictions about pandemics have been ignored?)