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Well it's almost Blast Off time.

And it's been a long time in coming.

I have been working towards this date for well over a year, and now I see it very prominently on the horizon like a great, blue ship...

I'm talking about ONE MAN AND HIS DOG: the Show, the Book Launch, the Bronze, the Sheepdog Trials. No, not the last one. I was just being hilarious.

All the pictures are finished. All signed with my new signature!!! All are framed and lovely with that miraculous invisible glass. All the frames are named, and signed on the back (in my old signature just in case you don't like the new one). Everybody who asked has had a lovely little picture added to the reverse. And they are all at the gallery. Catalogue out! Invitations out! Sales have begun! You can see it all and the e-catalogue HERE

The book is finally printed. It was a bit odd to see it at first. I think because I have been working day and night on it for so long, I actually did not know what to do with myself when the first copies arrived. It was like meeting someone I had admired from afar for the longest time. Someone I had hoisted up onto a pedestal from which they would inevitably fall. So my very first feeling was one of extreme nervousness. I was all overwhelmed and nauseous. And next the inevitable sinking and mild disappointment. Then a little frisson, followed by a warm glow and a smile of recognition... And now I have fallen in love all over again. I hope you do too.

I have numbered 395, and signed all of them. They are being wrapped and boxed as we speak. Ready for being sent out at the beginning of May to all who have pre-ordered them. And there's over 700 of you, my goodness. There will be 100 reserved for the Book Launch, and 100 for visitors to my Open Studio event at Christmas in Brighton (dates to be confirmed). And the remaining 100 could be pre-ordered by you right here! Or you could come to the Travelling Book Tour... but more of that later.

Five of the books have a little handwritten note inside. A bit like a golden ticket really. It's an extra surprise. All books are bagged and wrapped now so who knows where they are! But if you buy one, you have a one in 200 chance of winning something special...

I must say, the bronze is an absolute delight. My first foray into this kind of sculpture. Pleasingly weighty. It gives me the thought that it will outlive me by many centuries. Maybe one will be buried in a secret place for people to find when we are all pushing up the daisies. I wonder what the Future Intelligence will make of Mr Mustard and Doris?

So, dear people, I would like to firm up a few things and fill in some details. These are some of the FAQs...

WHERE CAN I GET THE BOOK?
  • You can pre-order it here online, where it will be sent to you early/mid May.
  • You can come along to Panter and Hall and buy one on 28 April 6-8pm where I will be dedicating copies of the book from 7.30pm (all copies are already signed).
  • You can come along to Panter and Hall and buy one on 9 May 11-2pm where I will be dedicating copies of the book from 1pm (all copies are already signed).

WHERE IS THE SHOW?
My show ONE MAN AND HIS DOG opens on Tuesday 28th April at 6pm at Panter and Hall, and runs until 15th May. I will be there personally from 6-8pm on Tuesday 28th April, and 11-2pm on Saturday 9th May. Please contact the gallery direct for opening hours and directions at:

Panter and Hall
11-12 Pall Mall
London
SW1Y 5LU
+44 (0) 20 7399 9999
enquiries@panterandhall.com
www.panterandhall.com

WHERE CAN I GET AN INVITATION TO THE PRIVATE VIEW/BOOK LAUNCH?
Please contact the gallery on enquiries@panterandhall.com or +44 (0)20 7399 9999 and let them know you would like to come. There will be drinks, and I will be wearing a nice frock and sparkly shoes. There will be 60 pictures on the walls, but no prints at all. Only original work. And you will be the first to see it. There will be two bronzes on display, one on a slate box and one on a stack of vintage books. There will be books to buy, and I will be happy to dedicate them from around 7.30pm. At 7.15pm, my brother will be auctioning a lovely piece worth £2950 in aid of Dogs Trust. We are starting the bidding at £5. Can't wait.

WHERE CAN I RSVP IF I WANT TO COME TO THE GRAND DAY OUT?
Please contact the gallery on enquiries@panterandhall.com or +44 (0)20 7399 9999 and let them know you would like to come. It would be really handy for me to know! The Grand Day Out is an additional event at the gallery on Saturday 9th May 11-2pm. If you read through the descriptions of the two events, then I daresay one will jump out at you more than the other.

The Grand Day Out is an afternoon outing, the private view is in the evening. I was looking into tea and cake for everybody but that didn't work out unfortunately. So there will be no actual refreshments, and you'll need to bring your own sandwiches. This is the day to come if you want to look at the prints as well as the originals. There will be stands in the centre of the gallery selling a wide range of limited edition prints displayed, both framed and unframed, for you to see and buy. Cadi will be there selling her MUSTARD JIG DOLLS, and Nan Mustard will also have a stand of limited edition, exclusive, ONE MAN AND HIS DOG goodies from Mr Mustard's kitchen:
  • Small, exquisite bone china coffee mugs (5 black and white designs)
  • A LET US MAKE CAKE apron
  • A MUSTARD SKETCH BOOK linen tea towel,
  • A heavy-weight canvas ONE MAN AND HIS DOG shopper,
  • And a brand new ONE MAN AND HIS DOG cotton ecobag.
We have a credit card machine but that can be very slow, so please bring cash or cheques for quickness. We will do a cash queue and a credit card queue, and see who gets the goodies first. We have limited stock so once it's gone it's gone. If anything remains we will put it for sale on Mustardshop after the event.

At about 1pm, I will be doing a 5 minute DRAWING TO MUSIC section (yes, it's as exciting as it sounds), there will be a terribly exciting GREAT MUSTARD RAFFLE, and then I will sit down (hopefully with a cup of tea) to dedicate books for all who have bought them.

WHERE CAN I VIEW / BUY THE PICTURES AND THE BRONZE?
You could come along to the gallery, Panter and Hall, from 29th April-15th May. Or join us at the Private View and Book Launch 28/4, or the Grand Day Out 9/5 (see details for both events above). And you can look at the exhibition online, request a catalogue or download an ecatalogue

WHERE CAN I ENTER THE COMPETITION TO WIN ONE OF THE FIVE LIMITED EDITION PRINTS?
I have chosen my five personal favourites from this Show, and made them into five very limited edition prints. Editions of 22 (and you will know the significance of that number if you read my autobiography), each one signed, numbered, titled and with a hand drawn remark in the title line. They are selling fast on Mustardshop already, and as a result they will NOT BE AT THE SHOW on Saturday 9th May with all of the other prints. I have the Artist Proofs here with me. Unmounted so I will roll each and send in a tube to the five winners of the Prize Draw at the end of April. To enter you need to post your answer to the following question on our Facebook group.

“Which is your favourite work from the Show and why?” You can make your decision by looking at the e-catalogue HERE and post your answer here.

WHAT IS THIS I HEAR ABOUT A TRAVELLING BOOK SHOW IN AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER?
Well, yes, it's true. I am going to be busy most of my weekends in August and September visiting galleries up and down the country promoting my book. No dates have yet been finalised. All the galleries have been contacted. I will announce the tour dates when I have them. This may involve a Charity Auction, a Puppet Show, some Drawing to Music or a very exciting Raffle, depending on the space-time continuum and general enthusiasm. It will definitely involve me visiting about 8 galleries (one a weekend) for an afternoon and dedicating books for you with a little picture or whatever. I daresay if you have a favourite venue near you, and they are REALLY enthusiastic and have pre-ordered the books and the new prints, then they may have let the secret slip? Watch this space. You will know as soon as I do when it is all confirmed!

*****

Lots of words. I'm sorry about that. Especially if you live too far away to come. But you can follow our progress on Facebook, enter the competition (also on Facebook), look at the e-catalogue, watch the YouTube video and even phone a friend to go get you some of the Show-only goodies if you can't bear to be without.

I'm very excited. And I'm very much looking forward to seeing the reaction to my new work. But you know what, I am such a funny old thing. Part of me cannot wait for it all to be over and done with, so I can get back to my usual routine: walking the boys in this lovely changeable weather, then getting my studio slippers on, tuning into the Radio 4, and thinking about making some pictures: my favourite!

All the very best to you, and thanks for your continued support,

Sam Toft

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