|Detail of Avebury Sheep
But I think that the subject of art world literacy probably deserves a post to itself. One day. When I know more about it.
So, anyway, it was a pleasant surprise to find that the people working in the Llewellyn Alexander gallery were pleasant and accessible.
The gallery, when I found it, didn't really look open, although the sign on the door said it was. The windows had a metal security grille behind them and the place looked like there were stacks of corner-wrapped paintings everywhere - but no doubt it was just new arrivals, possibly straight from the RA. A smaller sign on the door said to ring the bell to gain entry.
I'd just waked there from Embankment with 350 odd square inches of painting. I wasn't leaving just because I felt a bit nervous. I rang the bell. I was let in.
Feeling foolish, I said, "I expect you know why I'm here."
He did. He asked to see my work, and I was glad that I'd gone for minimal packaging (pipe lagging on the corners, card taped to the pipe lagging, all within a strong, plastic, A1 portfolio bag with a sturdy strap around it - well, I was carrying it through the streets of London, and it was minimal compared to the bespoke cardboard box it went to London in in the first place).
He told me that the director would need to make the decision. This was evidently the lady with a phone glued to her ear. While we were waiting, we talked stone circles. He didn't recognise Avebury, but when I told him where it was, the conversation quickly moved on to Stonehenge, about which he knew quite a bit.
The director, when she finished her telephone conversation, said, "Is that Avebury?" She looked at the painting. I thought I noticed a hint of surprise in her voice when she announced that she liked it. She talked about it being a bit "different", with an "unusual" composition. These appeared to be good things, although possibly contributory to her surprise. She said liked the sheep, and I seem to recall that the stones were admired, too.
She added that she thought that they could sell it. Then we talked money.
The Royal Academy charge £25 for their application form - an entry fee. At least one of the other Salons des Refusés charges artists an additional fee. Not Not The Royal Academy. Apparently there is a "standard London commission" of 100% (so, double the base price), and the commission on the paintings that sell pay for the hanging of all of the accepted works. There was a bit more to it than that, but we came up with a wall price of £420, which everybody was happy with. Of course, this is at the low end of what you might expect to pay for a painting at a gallery in London.
Her colleague sat down with me to do the paperwork - of which there wasn't an awful lot. I did get informed that the fixings (offset clips) that I had used to fit the frame with weren't the best if you were going to stack paintings. He seemed slightly horrified that I'd fitted the frame myself.
But he soon recovered from that, and told me that he didn't think that they'd had Avebury in the gallery before. He seemed quite cheerful at the prospect.
After all, every gallery needs a little bit of Avebury, doesn't it?