The Bluestone Gallery was established by Guy and Janice Perkins in May 2000. They travel widely in Britain to handpick pieces from many sources. The gallery offers a wide choice of high quality original work in a friendly and relaxed setting.
Guy has been a studio potter since 1977, exhibiting at home and abroad. He lived and worked in the middle of Avebury Stone Circle for twenty years. Janice makes jewellery using silver and precious stones.
Bluestone Gallery is a member of the Independent Craft Gallery Association.
A Gallery Story
Janice and I set up the Bluestone Gallery in 2000. I had been a studio potter for over 20 years. I had worked out my seam of creativity pretty thoroughly, was tired of working alone and needed a change. What do all those years of potting qualify you for? Not much. The one thing I thought I knew from decades of sales trips was the difference between a good and bad gallery. Or to put it another way, some galleries I looked forward to visiting: they welcomed you, relaxed you, inspired you. Others you hurried out of.
I mulled the prospects over for while (for years in fact). It took quite a lot of persuasion to enlist the support of my wife. She had "real work" experience having run an education department on the Isle of Wight amongst other things, and without those sorts of skills I wouldn't have known where to start. Eventually I wore her down, and hand in hand we took a huge leap into the dark.
We began by writing a small work of fiction called a Business Plan and touted ourselves around the banks. That was fun. We eventually found backers and premises, spent a joyfully hectic 6 months putting it all together and opened in May, not knowing whether the whole venture would survive to the end of the year. Ten years on we are still here, so we are doing something right.
The gallery stocks a wide range of work - jewellery, ceramics, glass, wood, paintings and prints, nearly all from the British Isles. The price range is equally wide, from a few pounds to four figures. Over time our selection of contemporary jewellery has grown into one of the best collections in the West Country. We are not the type of establishment with one white porcelain vase on a glass shelf where you have to steel yourself to enter. I can't stand pretension. My medium, pottery, is rooted literally in the earth. It amuses me these days how "potters" have been replaced by "ceramic artists".
However it gives me pleasure to sell, say, a bowl or jug to someone who has never been into a gallery before. To convince someone of the enduring pleasure that a hand-made piece can give, something that bears the unique touch of the maker's hand, is very fulfilling. What other reason is there to buy craft? You have a small part of the maker with you, their imagination, their skill, their graft, and it will please you every day. The craft scene in this country is healthy, our makers are wonderfully creative, but it will only be sustained if we keep introducing their work to new people - and that is what the Bluestone is about.
We are a totally unsubsidised commercial gallery therefore survival is our priority. And believe me the bills keep coming. As sure as day follows night our rent, rates, insurance, wages, advertising, heating and all the rest relentlessly increase. We live in retail world where myriad items are imported from all over the world. Much of it is well designed, well made, and cheap. But however nice it looks, it lacks that factors that set it apart. I think that difference is the alchemy of an original piece of work, be it ever so humble, which is seen through all stages of its conception birth and delivery by the maker.
I totally underestimated the hours required to run a gallery well. In the early days I carried on potting - now my expertise lies more in VAT returns and payroll. Each day makers send letters, photos, emails, phone messages. We feature local makers whenever possible, and I take much time going through the difficulties of pricing work with those who are grappling with the economics of art and craft.
So like most things in life it's a balance. We have to choose work we think our customers will buy - for our survival - and the work has to meet our criteria of quality and originality. Ideally all the factors come together into work which, put simply, gives delight. The empty coffee mug sitting on my desk is by John Calver. I never cease to wonder at the way he manipulates clay into flowing lines, the subtle variety of his glazes, the deft touch of the decoration. It is a thing of wonder to me. That's what it's all about.