Curate (verb) – to select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition).
As curator of the Beneath the Southern Sky travelling exhibition of textile works, I seek to maintain the works in optimum condition on tour and to ensure that they are displayed in an attractive and professional manner.
Yesterday I spent several hours preparing the exhibition for its forthcoming gallery installation at The Q Exhibition Space, Queanbeyan, NSW (4-18 December 2012). The process took MUCH longer than I anticipated. In the spirit of knowledge sharing, and not to criticise any of the participating artists, here are some further insights into hanging textile works for other aspiring curators and artists.
First of all, I removed some of the velcro casing strips. In some cases, it was because they were already coming loose from repeated use. For the balance, the hanging sleeve (and hence the velcro casing) had been attached too close to the top of the textile work and was visible from the front or otherwise prevented the textile work from hanging flat when a rod was inserted in the sleeve.
As the velcro system is not required for the remaining exhibition venues, it’s not a big deal to take the velcro off permanently. However, to accommodate possible variation in hanging systems through a tour, I will be tweaking my hanging instructions for any other exhibitions to make is mandatory for there to be 1 inch clearance between the top of the textile sleeve and the top of the textile work.
More significantly, I will refine the hanging directions to clearly specify the width of the hanging sleeve and clearance from the sides of the textile work. Many of the works had sleeves across their full 40cm width as shown below:
This is great for fully supporting the textile work but the downside is that my pre-cut 37-38cm hanging rods got swallowed up by the sleeves. Even if I had wider rods, this would not be ideal as the hanging apparatus would protrude out the sides of the textile work and be visible to the viewer.
Accordingly, I modified several sleeves to fit my rods. A narrower sleeve ensures the rod, eye and hook hardware are neatly hidden behind the work although it’s better if the sleeve is lower down as in the second example below:
On a related note, it is desirable for hanging sleeves in an exhibit to be consistently positioned and have the same amount of “pouf”. This means that if multiple works are hung on a single rod, they will sit at the same height. I will need to check this for the 2013 shows. For now, each work will have its own hanging apparatus at Queanbeyan so we will be able to adjust settings for individually. I’ll share photos after the installation.
In the meantime, my advice to textile artists is to follow hanging instructions carefully. Otherwise you risk your work not being hung or risk it hanging in a sub-optimal way.
Here’s a photograph of a combined hanging sleeve and velcro casing that has good clearances from the edges of the textile work and I anticipate will hang perfectly:
When you open up the protective casing, you will see that Sue Dennis has used just enough of the loop velcro on the lower half to ensure that the casing closes firmly and securely but not so much as to make it difficult to open and close the velcro. You can be assured that I will be updating my hanging instructions to include this refinement also!
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