I went to my first lane sale in Edinburgh last week, and this one is an unknown treasure, to be sure: Edinburgh’s best kept secret. This is a secret I am happy to share with you.
The sale is put on every Thursday by long-standing auctioneers, Ramsay Cornish, down at the bottom of Leith Walk on Jane Street. The bidding starts at 11, though it helps to get there a bit earlier to scope things out.
My friend had been telling me about this lane sale for a long time, but I never managed to get down to it - until last Thursday morning. I checked the weather, and while it was going to be chilly, the sun was out. I contacted my friend, and said ‘Let’s go!’ When we got there people were already starting to crowd round the tables where leftovers of the previous auction were laid out to view.
A whole range of folk were there: novices, observers, experienced bidders knowing exactly what they were after (and quietly making sure others knew too!), and some hoarders.
It took time to consider everything carefully and finally set my mind on some pieces that I liked. I then had to make the move to bid for them!
You can’t be too indecisive at an event like this. Well you can, but you won’t get anywhere! That is something I learned rather quickly - though not quick enough, I have to say. It’s going to take another visit to practice this skill a bit more. Saying that, thanks to my experienced friend, I ended up going away with a couple of lovely wooden boxes, a light green ceramic goblet (good for a bulb flower potentially?), and an old wooden racket holder.
Maybe. But I think all of these things will serve my purposes in the studio quite well!
It was very cold and my friend’s nose was starting to turn red (something he's rather self-concious about), an indication that it was time to find the nearest café for a cuppa.
I was pleased with the pieces we managed to get, and will see what I end up using them for.
After a bit of time away from the painting, it’s back into full gear again. I’ve got a couple of shows coming up in Orkney this summer. One is an exhibition at a small gallery in St. Margaret’s Hope, just over the water from Gills Bay, and the other is a group exhibition of which I am a part and will be curating in Stromness. Both are shows I am looking forward to. Any excuse to be in Orkney for a spell.
Whilst working in the studio, it comes to my attention that decision-making, whether at an auction, or in the studio, is a constant. If too much time is spent doing this in other areas of life, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for the necessary energy for decisive action during the creative process. The need to simplify around the artistic process, and eliminate unnecessary decision-making factors, is crucial for a successful time in the studio.
Shakespeare's most famous character is Hamlet, who had trouble with making decisions - because he analysed too much, all those soliloquies to himself! He needed a lesson from someone like Clint Eastwood, whose advice to film directors is: 'Make a decision! And make it fast. Right or wrong, you just have to make a decision!'
Next time, I'll move faster at the lane sale auction!