This week was the preparation and hanging of end of year show. A stressful week to say the least but we got there in the end. I was lucky to secure a nice large and clear space for my painting installation so that my work could be displayed as strongly as possible.
After preparing the surface so that it was as clean and white as possible with the minimum of flaws in the surface are I set about organising my work to be hung. As discussed in a previous post I only had a lose idea of how I would hang my work and in taking the advice of Bridget Smith I decided to make my work fit into the space. This is a much more intuitive way of working. I think many of us have seen artwork that has been made with very specific intentions and there is no degree of flexibility when placing it into the particular gallery space. This tends to make the work clunky and awkward. In many ways all artworks are site specific works and they need to be "hung" with consideration to the actual space. This is obviously less relevant when you are presented with the perfect white cube of a high quality gallery space but when you are adopting areas such as the 7th floor into a gallery it needs careful consideration.
Straight away I was concerned with 2 factors regarding my hang; one was the walls boards where not as tall as I would have liked and secondly was the fact that there was the clunky plastic joining brackets holding the boards together. I needed to decide early on if I was going to deliberately cover the brackets with work or leave them showing? If I was to cover the brackets with work that meant I was not going to be as flexible with my arrangement of works and they would have to be hung with the intention of certain canvases covering the brackets.
As can be seen in the above picture the brackets are quite intrusive to the piece so I decided that I would have to cover them with work so they would not detract from the impact of the work. You can also see that the boards where not really as tall as I needed them to be so I had to also make a decision as to whether I would contain all the work beneath the boundaries of the boards or allow some to extend over them.
I also had the problem where I did not want to bang any nails into my boards until I was sure exactly where I was going to place my work. This made deciding how to hang it even harder as I did not want to risk my work falling off the walls and breaking yet I had to step back from the work to reasonably assess how successful each configuration was. In the photo above I managed to get some help from two colleagues but everyone was really busy so I did not want to disturb people too much. However, this photo helped me decide that I would have to let some of the work extend the constraints of the board if I was going to cover the brackets and maintain a decent aesthetic to the work.
This was an early configuration I tried. It was OK but I felt there was better arrangements available so I kept trying others. Making several canvases to go within one installation is a new way of working for me so I am learning many things while I consider hanging combinations. One thing I realised earlier on is that with 11 canvases to display there is more hanging combinations than I would ever be able to try so it does require a very determined approach and a keen eye as to direct the installation to its best configuration. In many ways this is similar to the processes involved in making an abstract painting. You can keep adding and trying different things and you soon realise some are good some are bad but eventually you will need to make a decision that the painting is finished and you have to live with it.
I eventually decided on a configuration for the work and using nails and a spirit level I hung it.
Above is the final layout of the work. I am pleased with the display and I think Its very strong considering the limitations of the space. The final arrangement was very much dictated by the need to cover up the brackets and the height of the boards but I feel that I adapted the work really well to these constraints.
The work has an uneasy sense of balance to it and looks like it could fall apart at any minute (I hope not though!). Some of the shapes add to this effect like the offset squares of the canvas on the left. There is also an impression of contained energy to the work as though different lines and angles are bouncing energy about the piece.