I hope this email finds you well?
It’s a strange old time we’ve been having, many still suffering or recovering from the ravages of the pandemic and just a lucky few of us feeling that things are ‘back to normal’… but these times leave their mark even for us fortunate ones don’t they? For better or for worse I don’t think anything will be the way it was before. And if you’re like me, now more than ever there’s a pressing need to focus on the good things life has to offer. To be real, true, authentic but also optimistic, hopeful and to appreciate the little joys.
In this spirit I am deciding to have an impromptu show. Online, not in person, as things are a bit topsy turvy with me as my little dog is old and ill so I have no idea what state I’ll be in come August. I’ve got lots of help so I can make sure little Stan is comfortable, as well as working a few days in the studio and having big walks with Betty in the woods. Among the trees I have always found such solace and inspiration and it is with much sadness that I accept Stan can no longer join us on our long tramps over the green hills. But he has his daily outings to the park where he can sometimes chase his ball and play hunt the biscuit. There’s nothing at all wrong with his nose and he still manages an amount of mischief which is right and proper for such an independent, opportunistic soul. And, as I’m realising more as I get older, grief can bring us closer to our friends and family. Sometimes the best of us comes out at the worst of times.
The problem with my recent shows is that there are never enough paintings to go round. I produce much less and the demand is high. So I’m deciding, like most galleries, to operate a priority list so certain people will get the link to the original work before everybody else. This should avoid the log jam as sales go live. I know from the many emails I receive how disappointing and frustrating it has been for so many of you.
How to join the small band of individuals on the priority list? We will be including all previous buyers from Sam Toft Originals (as loyalty is important) and also members of Little Mustard Club (as I think membership is a good gauge of people really interested in my work). July memberships are now open at Little Mustard Club so no-one needs to miss out. The small pieces will be the same price as always and the slightly larger pieces (as they take me so much more time) will be subject to a 30% increase in line with gallery pricing. I’m anticipating a small collection of around 7-10 paintings.
Little Joys goes live on Saturday 6th August. And everyone on our priority list (we’ll call them ‘the Specials’) will get an additional email tomorrow with all the extra details. If you don’t receive it and you think you should be on the list then please let us know by return. And nearer the time I’ll send a reminder too as I know we all have a lot on our minds right now.
And let’s end with a little story I may have told you before. Even after all this time, the strength of the experience still wakes me up at night sometimes. Although I have the most terrible memory and forget most things quickly, strong feelings always stay with me.
It all started a few years ago when my close neighbours were making a nuisance of themselves. I live in a terrace right next to a block of flats so it’s to be expected, but the noise was so loud over a number of weeks, it sounded as though there was a live band at the bottom of my garden. They would practice the same parts of one particular song time and again. They sounded so earnest it could have been heartwarming, and there was this carefully scripted message repeated over and over -through a microphone- thanking the audience for their loyalty and admiration, followed by something that sounded like a primal scream. Long anguished animalistic cries plagued my Sunday afternoons. But I choose to live in a city so I guess it’s part and parcel.
But then the food missiles started. Just chunks of stale bread at first and I hardly noticed them as I think my dogs hoovered up the evidence. Always mysterious trails of breadcrumbs and quite a lot of drooling, but I let that pass. And then they started with empty tubes of Pringles and tubs of half eaten hummus, dirty tissues and baked bean cans. I found the remains when I went outside in my garden but never actually saw them being thrown. I looked up at the blank grid of windows from the neighbouring block. Was there someone sniggering behind those curtains?
And it went on. One day I found my little dog trying to swallow a leg of fried chicken, raw inside and from the foul smell not too fresh. Boy, was he sick that night. There followed weeks of clearing up meat bones in red sauce, fast food containers, rotten eggs. And each time I felt myself getting more and more angry. This is the feeling I remember so clearly. I was absolutely livid. And as the mature adult I am I decided -rather than talk to anyone face to face- to post a strongly worded note on the front door of the flats. I’m not proud of myself. Every night I went to bed fuming.
If I look on the bright side, one good thing that came of all this was discovering how many lovely people lived in those flats. They put kind notes through my door or came round to tell me it was not them. Then one wise person came up with a solution. I really didn’t see it, but I bet you’ve guessed already?
After weeks of seething, we found out it was the seagulls. They had been nesting on my roof. I discovered a rare treasure trove of rotting food and rubbish when I climbed up there. The items in my garden had merely been their overflow. All that energy wasted feeling hateful. I still wonder how I was capable of such righteous anger. And I was so wrong.
So what I learnt from that is to take things with a pinch of salt and not be too ready to jump to conclusions. And to do something to stop those pesky seagulls nesting in my chimney pots.
I’ll be in touch tomorrow with those Specials on my list and wish you a grand weekend,