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Picture hanging

Published on 1/03/2017

  • Picture hanging

HANGING AN EXHIBITION is always rather daunting. Where do you start when faced with blank walls. Even after 30 years, it is a challenge. Solo exhibitions are easier as the various works of one artist will generally hang happily together. It is still important to hang them harmoniously but they are unlikely to jar, however they are hung.

A mixed exhibition is a different proposition. With no unifying theme, style or subject drawing paintings together, it is a puzzle to determine what should hang where. With paintings of different sizes, different media, different energy, it is testing to try to place each painting to advantage. And that is before the frames are considered. 

There are fashions in framing as in everything else. An oil painting framed in the '60s and '70s will generally have a hessian slip, something which looks dated today. In recent years, hand-finished silver and gold leaf frames have been popular and now we are seeing hand-finished frames with more muted painted finishes, often with gold or silver highlights. So there are black, brown, white, gold, silver, coloured...all sorts of frames vying for attention. 

Should the tops of the paintings be in alignment with each other or the bottoms or the centres? There must be order to an arrangement or the visual experience will be unsettling. Being an old building, the walls of the gallery are not quite square so we trust our eyes rather than checking with rulers and spirit levels.

Once we have a few key elements set up and the first pictures hung, the others tend to fall into place although it's not unknown for us to re-hang an entire room more than once. We certainly have huge respect for anyone hanging a major exhibition such as The Royal Academy's annual Summer Exhibition. Of course, they have technicians to carry out the physical hanging. We both plan and hang — it's a good upper arm workout.

Our Spring Exhibition opens on Sunday. Come along and judge for yourself how well we have done.


Blog by Joan Ross



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