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Anthony Avery

Anthony J Avery - Artist

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Early Days

Early Memoires - The Man of Ross Gallery

I can’t remember exactly when it was – probably a couple of years after I opened the Man of Ross Gallery. Doesn’t really matter when it was... but the occasion I remember very well…
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On one of those rare “opening” days when the Gallery was open to the general public…
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I was working in the studio, upstairs in the gallery, when I heard the gallery door open. I dashed down stairs into the main showroom, to greet this very elegant, noble, discerning lady customer, who announced to me she had come to view my latest works. And that she was looking for a painting to fill an empty space on the wall in her living room. But it had to be a picture that she liked; but she had no idea what she liked. But she would know what she wanted when she saw it!
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So off we go…
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After escorting her around the downstairs gallery, picking up and putting down various original watercolours from the display racks, and viewing a variety of oil paintings, to no avail…
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After long conversations about ‘art’ and her personal choosing a painting because she had to ‘live’ with it, she caught sight of a painting on the side wall next to my easel… “Now that is just what I am looking for” she suddenly announced.
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It was a painting of fishing boats, trawlers, moored upto the quay-side at Looe harbour, Cornwall. “Yes, that’s the one I want,” she declared. “I just love the reflections in the water, and the approaching storm. I love it!”
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As she scrutinized the painting – stepping back to get a better view – then forward, closing one eye, then the other…”Yes, that’s the one I want!” she reaffirmed.
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Then she suddenly exclaimed “What is that mark? That stain in the sky?”
A long pause…
“That be bird shit” I said. “A seagull shit on me whilst I was painting…” I explained.
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Complete horror!
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“Can you sell a picture with bird shit on it? She asked.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Why not?!” she retorted.
“Look at it like this,” I explained, “How do you tell the difference between a genuine silver salver and a piece of silver plate?”
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She looked bemused.
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“The difference between a genuine silver salver and a piece of silver plate is in the hallmark. The hallmark tells you it is genuine.” I said. “Think about it!”
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“What do you mean?” she asked.
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“Think of it like this…The bird shit resembles a hallmark! It shows the Artist, me, actually painted this picture outside. This painting was executed with all the passion and inspiration, capturing that particular moment in time. Outside with all the natural elements. The Artist is at one with his painting. Not from a photograph… The bird shit is the hallmark of authenticity!”
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“Oh my God” she said, “Never thought about it like that!”
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She took the painting. Bird shit – hallmark – still intact!
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“It will make a good story,” she said, “and I love the picture just as it is!”
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End of story.
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