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Monday, 16 March 2015

Nothing like a salon hang to brighten up your flat

I had the picture hanger over again today for a couple of hours. A big part of the time he spent today was consumed by making this living room salon hang. I googled "salon hang" and found a couple of news articles from last year, one in the Sydney Morning Herald and one in the Los Angeles Times. Beaumont, the picture hanger, just referred to this kind of hang as a "group", which does the job just as well but to say it it's not as snappy as "salon hang". I asked Beaumont if he had seen the 2014 Mike Leigh film Mr Turner, in which the famous painter can be seen adding last minute touches to a painting in a typical 19th Century exhibition: paintings all jammed into a small space, and hung to maximise the number of paintings on the wall rather than for any other consideration. We noted how modern gallery exhibitions are far more respectful of the object than they were in the past.

It's not that I don't respect my paintings, it's just that I think a salon hang adds a bit of panache to a room. The higgledy-piggledy approach seems to me to allow you to infuse the configuration with more of your own personality. It might seem disrespectful in a formal, public exhibition but at home we're all friends aren't we?

Last week saw me driving down to Annandale to a conservator's studio near Parramatta Road. The company, Preservation Australia, is known for doing this kind of work. My framer recommended them, and that's enough of a recommendation for me. Tegan met me at the door - which is located down the side of a big brick building - and led me upstairs to a bright and airy studio space where two other people were at work. It turns out that two of the glass images are Ambrotypes and one is a Daguerrotype. One of the Ambrotypes is of a woman in a check dress and is very badly damaged. The other Ambrotype and the Daguerrotype are still in reasonable condition. The badly damaged one my mother had a print taken from a few years ago, so I know what it is supposed to look like.

The three images came to light in a badly damaged box which started to fall apart as soon as I picked it up while unpacking some of the things brought down from mum's apartment on the Coast. Their mounts - which were of wood or cardboard, and cloth - were so badly water damaged they were not worth saving. The three images had somehow been packed away untreated after the flood in the summer of 2010-11 when the carpark of mum's unit was flooded with a mixture of stormwater and sewage. For some reason noone thought it was worthwhile doing something about the images, but it is difficult to say whether any action taken at that stage would have helped. It's enough to say that since the images were captured sometime in the late 19th Century they have mostly been neglected. I plan to have them mounted for display in sturdy frames after having them cleaned.

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