You know how they say bad things happen in threes? I'm starting to believe this.
Two weeks ago, as anyone who reads my other blog, Treacle Toffee, will know, I was the victim of fraud on my business account. Drama Number One. 6 days after that happened, when I was starting to recover from the shock and anxiety, I received an email from a gallery that had been stocking my Scatterbox Originals items. The Art Works Galleries in Newcastle had closed for business - with absolutely no notice. Drama Number Two begins.
In the email I was instructed to collect my property on one of three days the following week, within a specific time frame. As I live some 400 miles away from the gallery, I was forced to fork out £12.99 for a parcel force collection, which I hurriedly arranged online. No problem says the gallery, your stuff will be ready for them to collect. The day of collection came and went, I checked the online tracking facility..."FAILED COLLECTION: NOTHING TO COLLECT". Now, my past difficulties dealing with parcel force aside, I'd like to believe they did everything in their power to collect my parcel. Sadly they were unable to do so...I may never know why.
So, with one day left in the gallery's given timetable of collection days, I was forced to ask a very big favour of someone I don't really know.
This summer I had a holiday with my parents in Northumberland, and while we were there visiting the lovely Alnwick gardens, I happened to meet Cassandra Harrison of Gee How Quaint. Cassandra had a stall selling her gocco art and fabric creations and I briefly chatted with her about craft, gocco and Etsy. I walked away feeling guilty that I couldn't afford to buy anything from this nice lady but clutching a business card in hand. How glad I am that I took that business card, for not only have I discovered a very talented artist - I've also had a vital contact in the North East throughout the awfulness of the gallery closing. Cassandra Harrison, for all you have done to help not only me but several other artists who are victims of this...you are a heroine. Check out her work on http://geehowquaint.com
Last week, in the midst of working extra hours in my day job as well as trying to get a response from the Art Works Galleries regarding my property and the money they have owed me for several months, my parents were here visiting. I'm thankful that I had them here during such a difficult week, though our time together was limited by Drama Number Three. On Tuesday, Dad went into the local A&E unit with chest pains uncannily like those he had before his pulmonary embolism last year. For 24 hours I was left to wonder what else could go wrong.
Fortunately it was a false alarm. Dad has, as far as we can tell, a clean bill of health, though the initial tests had appeared to show otherwise. Likewise my bank account has at last been credited with the money that was stolen from me, just in time to cover my bills.
Back to the gallery debacle...
Cassandra Harrison very kindly agreed to go to the gallery on my behalf last Saturday, and collect my property at the same time as her own. On arrival she was met with a locked door and a baffled man appointed to open the gallery...but unable to do so, because the locks had been changed, apparently overnight. Curiouser and curiouser.
After much anxious emailing, attempted phonecalls, more emailing and a great deal of reconnaissance work on Cassandra's part...we've managed to piece together the situation. The gallery has been shut down by bailiffs and all the work inside, created with love and care by people who are innocent in all of this, has been seized and taken to an auction house. Each of us have to individually make it known to the bailiffs what property is ours, send proof that we are the rightful owners and that the goods can't be sold as the gallery's assets.
If you are one of the affected artists, phone 0191 477 2080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contract or drop off forms.
Today, I'm anxiously waiting to hear the latest news on my work. I haven't been able to make a thing all week from the worry and the constant chasing-up of each development. Will I get my property back? Will I ever see the money the gallery owes me? Time will tell - I'll post an update when I know more.
You can find more information on the situation with the Art Works Galleries and Matt Forster at the website for the Journal here as well as this site and Cassandra's blog here
Cassandra was able to collect my products from the auctioneers - hooray! Once I have everything back, the Etsy shop will get an update.