1/2 NPLH Collection SOLD!

When No Place Like Home previewed on September 6th at 11am no one was there but Val Pettifer (proprietor of The Old School Studio), Stefan Simmons (long time bestie from Uni), Chris & Nicola Knott (without whom the guests would have had nothing to drink and nothnig to nibble), and me (supremely nervous artist hosting her first solo exhibition). And with the exception of my parents-in-laws and hubby, it stayed that way for an hour.

Then at high noon the first few guests began to arrive, and then more, and then more, and then more! At one point Val was getting concerned about the parking situation. From then on we were busy for three solid hours! Stefan handled photography, card sales and catering, Hubby expertly schmoozed and kept the drinks flowing with those I couldn’t get to just yet, Val handled sales, and I did more schmoozing than I ever did in all my years in advertising! The card machine was upstairs so Val took all the buyers upstairs to finalise their purchases. At one point, she couldn’t come down stairs! As fast as she completed one sale, I’d send another buyer up to her. It was phenomenal. I felt like a baker with a basket of hotcross buns at Easter!

I think the best thing I ever did was spread the preview across 8 hrs so that people could turn up at a time to suit them. It meant that the 70 or so people that turned up didn’t all arrive at once and I could find the space and time to chat with almost all of them about the artwork and my creative process and anything else they wanted to know. Somewhere in the melee, a photographer from the Cambridge News arrived and directed me to pose for several shots with my art. The resulting features in the Cambridge and Royston News were impressive… well they impressed me anyway!

Then just when the crowd began to dwindle, the Mayor of Royston arrived! I think that was the best timing possible because I was able to take her round to all the artwork, explaining the story and process behind each piece, explaining my Life Story Art work, and some of my Work-in-Progress pieces too! She’s very keen to see what I create when I finish my Royston High Street.

Finally, somewhere around 4pm I managed to snag a light lunch and sit down a minute. My feet were aching – good thing I’d brought 4 different pairs of shoes and changed them in reducing height order until finally, after one last rush of preview guests we closed the doors at 7pm and I was blessedly in ballet flats. I plopped my tired butt into a chair, whipped out my phone and checked my email. There was a message from my web hero, Robin Taylor, he had made the exhibition live at exactly 7pm. By Leigh art was now officially on sale online. The No Place Like Home collection being the first offering. Wow! My head was literally spinning with how many milestones I’d crossed in one day.

The guys brought in the UK and T&T flags from the curb, and the A-frame from the front of the Studio. By 8pm we were all ravenous and ready to celebrate with some good food from the local Thai. I’d sold 10 paintings on opening day!

That was Saturday, by close of play on Sunday I’d sold 3 more. We shut the doors, I checked email and wait…. what’s this from PayPal? Folks, I lost my online sales virginity that night! I’d like to say I didn’t screech like an over excited teenaged girl at a One Direction concert and dance around the studio like an idiot while Val and Stefan stared at me as if I’d lost the plot, but that would be an outright lie. Pentonville Rd had sold online. Once I got my dance out of the way, I quickly messaged Robin to mark it SOLD on the website and proceeded to grin like an numpty for the rest of the night.

And that was basically how it continued. Every night I’d get back from the Studio and Hubby would ask “What did you sell today baby?” and I think there were only 3 nights when I had to reply “Nothing luv”. So it was that when No Place Like Home finally closed its doors at The Old School Studio that I had sold 31 of 61 paintings in the No Place Like Home collection. The browser holding the unframed art was looking sparse compared to how it bulged with artwork only 14 days ago. There were more red dots on the wall next to almost half the framed pieces than I ever dared hope. To say that No Place Like Home was a resounding success sounds like I’m tooting my own horn, but to say otherwise would make me an ungrateful wretch which I most certainly am not.

As I wrap each sold piece and prepare it for delivery or collection, I can’t help remembering the look of joy on each buyers face as they secured the one they wanted before anyone else got it. One lady was positively beaming, tears glistening in her eyes as she paid for her artwork. It blew my mind the visceral response so many people seemed to have to work that I had created. So I must say thank you.

Thank you to my oldest visitor, 99 yr old Olwen who really enjoyed the textured artworks and asked me to hold Raw Ambition (the Fire in My Belly) about 2 feet in front of her so she could pretend to be by a roaring fireside. I hope I’m that sharp and funny if I’m lucky enough to see 99! Thank you to my youngest visitor to sign the guest book, 5 yr old Sam, who asked me whether these paintings would always be on the walls, and when the paintings weren’t on the wall any longer what I planned to do next, what others paintings I planned to paint. I’ll be inviting Sam to my next business planning session – seriously shrewd dude!

Thank you to the Trinis who came out of the woodwork to support my exhibition. Who knew so many were so close by until I started advertising an exhibition with that distinctive Red, White & Black flag that seemed to call them in like a Pied Piper. My Trini supporters travelled the furthest to support me, coming from as far as Norwich and Cardiff and buying so many pieces of art!

Thank you to my family for putting up with me in the last 3 months. I know my husband must be thrilled its finally over and he can have his wife back and stop feeling like a single Dad to 2 toddlers. I owe you more than a few free weekends baby. Daddy thank you for the tamarind balls, coconut fudge and sugar cake, every Trini who passed through the exhibition probably wants to thank you too 😉 Mummy thanks for being on the other end of the phone listening to me whinge and moan and panic unnecessarily… yes, you were right. Mummy & Daddy Ross, David & Emily, thank you for looking after the nippers for us, I think this is the only thing that kept Chris sane while I hid away in my studio with a paintbrush surgically attached to my arm.

Thank you to Ashley at Robert H Clark for quick, clean, crisp photography of all 61 pieces of art, and to Robin Taylor for uploading every single piece of art, its story, its work-in-progress, sorting out the online purchasing, and generally rescuing me from going mad and chucking my computer out a window!

Thank you to old colleagues, friends, mentors, mentees, fellow artists, local councillors, residents of Whittlesford who made a point to visit, passersby who came in curious about the flags, friends of friends who turned up because they were told to! Thank you for coming, thank you for buying, thank you for supporting my first solo exhibition!

More laughter,
More joy,
Much love,

Stacey Leigh Ross

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