A look back at Speyer

Autumn colours south of Speyer

Autumn colours south of Speyer

Well then, I’ve just returned from two weeks in Speyer, Germany.  As most of you will know, I was invited back there this year to hold a short exhibition of my Scottish landscape paintings at the Künstlerhaus.  The exhibition opened on the evening of Friday 21st October and my partner Anita and I travelled out on Wednesday 19th.  I had sent the work out a week or so earlier and several members of the Küstlerbund had kindly agreed to unwrap and hang the work prior to our arrival.

Suffice to say, the trip out went well without a hitch and we arrived at the Künstlerhaus in Speyer to find Holger Grimm (president of the Künstlerbund Speyer e.V) and several other members waiting to welcome us …and a table laid with wine and food!  It was a great reception and a wonderful way to start the trip.  They had done a fantastic job of hanging the work and it all looked good.

Speyer exhition preview - Photo by Ulrich Harer

Speyer exhibition preview - Photo by Ulrich Harer

We did have a little work still to do on Thursday and Friday before the preview though……on the way across, around a half of the packages containing the paintings, had been damaged …..and although the paintings had survived intact …a number of the frames had knocks and scrapes.  Thankfully these were wooden painted frames and Anita had bought with her, some filler and paint for just such an event.  After a day and a half of careful, filling, sanding and painting, always fixed and looking good again ….but what can you say about a company who manage to damage half of the packages they handle?!  All part of being an artist I guess …though I may have to look for another courier company …one who handles your gear with care.

Speyer exhibition preview - Photo by Ulrich Harer

Speyer exhibition preview - Photo by Ulrich Harer

It seemed quite strange being back at the Künstlerhaus where I’d lived and worked for four months last summer …and it really didn’t seem like a whole year had gone by since I was last there …amazing.    The preview went very well, Mike Lauter and Andrea Niessen had arrived early to set up the bar …as the evenings were getting cold, they’d decided to serve hot spiced wine and by the time people were starting to arrive, all was ready.   It was a good turn out and the first lady through the door bought one of my paintings …so a great start.  Indeed, some friends had actually turned up on Thursday evening …for a ‘pre preview’ …as they wanted to buy a painting …so there was already one red dot before we even opened the doors on Friday evening!

In the exhibition

In the exhibition

After a few words from Holger, Michael Lauter then made a speech …but with my lack of German, I’m not sure what he said …but it seemed to go down well …and so, if you’re reading this Mike, a big thanks for all your work and help.

It was a very good evening that ended with about a dozen people sat talking, drinking wine and eating pizza until around midnight!  Mike and Fred helped Nita and I clear up and so it must have been about half past one in the morning before I eventually turned the lights out in the gallery and headed upstairs to bed.

This trip though wasn’t all about work ….we’d hoped that it would be a bit of a holiday too ….and that is exactly how it turned out.  During the middle week we had many kind offers to visit people for meals or to go out and visit places with them …as a few people said, we had a busy programme!

View from the castle, Heidelberg

View from the castle, Heidelberg

We had a wonderful day with Stewart, Evelyn and Markus, walking one of the trails through the vineyards and hills to the south of Speyer.  The autumn colours were beautiful and just got brighter as days went by.  On Wednesday, under clear blue skies, we drove with Mike Lauter to Heidelberg, the beautiful university city nestling under the hills on either side of the Neckar.  We wandered along the side of the river to the old bridge and then across it to the old town for lunch.  High on the side of the hill overlooking the city is the wonderful old castle and like all tourists (and there were a lot of us) we just had to visit it and enjoy the stunning views from its battlements.

Visits to the studios of Künstlerbund members, Andrea Niessen and Martin Eckrich made for a fascinating day on Friday.  To get a flavour of what they each do …visit: www.andrea-niessen.de  and www.martin-eckrich.de .

The exhibition ended on Sunday 30th at 6pm and we  had a good turn out each weekend.  I seemed to get a good response to the work which was very pleasing and hopefully did a little to aid the Scottish tourist industry ….a lot of folk said they’d have to visit Scotland after seeing the paintings!  In the end, six of the paintings sold which was very pleasing and certainly made the whole trip more than viable.

The plan had been to repack the unsold work and arrange for its collection on Wednesday.  This would mean my being at the gallery to oversee the collection.  But, as they say ….the best made plans….’…..the courier company failed to collect despite my sitting waiting from8 am until11 pm!  Ahhhhhh!  We had to leave Speyer at 8.30 am the next morning and so it wasn’t until we reached Frankfurt airport that I had a chance to call and find out what was happening.  They’re now claiming I wasn’t there when their driver called ….but this is just *****!  The problem is that the work is now still in Germany and I have to ask someone in the Künstlerbund to wait for a newly arranged collection.  The courier company say that they can’t give a definite time and don’t seem to get the point that it’s their mess and they need to make an exception.  All is on hold now until next week …so hopefully I’ll have good news re this in my blog next week.  Anyway, this little hitch apart,  it proved a very enjoyable and successful trip and my thanks go out to everyone in the Künstlerbund Speyer e.V and everyone else who made us so welcome throughout our stay in Speyer.

Right then, that’s about it for this week.  I can’t wait to get down my studio again …it’s been a few weeks now since I did any serious painting and I’m getting withdrawal symptoms!

Photographs by Anita Groves and Ulrick Harer.  Many thanks both.

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