Exhibitions – hanging facilities and art stands.

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Exhibitions – hanging facilities and art stands.

At the end of this month, I will be taking part in my first exhibition this year inside a marquee in Painshill Park, Cobham, Surrey. I haven’t taken part in an exhibition there before and have no idea what the setup will be like, so trying to plan ahead isn’t easy.

There won’t be any hanging facilities supplied like there are at the big indoor exhibitions, but this is normal for church hall/community centre-type of shows. I have some suggestions for making the best of such situations, which I hope will be helpful.

If, as I suspect, there will be only the poles supporting the marquee to hang work from then my advice is to get some heavy-duty fishing nylon, chain or strong string and attach it to the horizontal poles. Then attach picture hooks to the “hanging verticals” you have created and hang your strung artworks from them.

If you are in a hall and provided with just a table, make sure you have a large bright cloth with you which you can drape over boxes, books etc. to create a stepped or tiered stage (for want of a better expression). That way you can display your paintings, sculptures, pots etc. in an interesting and secure way.

You could buy some easels (or, if you have paint-spattered ones, drape a cloth over them); free standing models for large paintings and smaller sizes for your small works, which when arranged on top on the boxes as suggested above, will create an interesting display.

For smaller artworks, a card rack is a possible option for displaying them and these can be picked up online from about £20.00 each but may be available from a variety of sources at different prices. It is always worth looking at your local online sites such as Facebook marketplace, Freecycle, eBay etc.

I have seen people use plate racks, both wooden and plastic, and you can always simply line your work up against your table or the sides on the space you have been allocated.

Currently, with so many retail stores closing, there are plenty of shop fittings being sold off via a variety of different sites. Mr. S picked up a couple of heavy-duty coat rails for £20 just this week, possibly from somewhere like Debenhams, who knows, but there is a lot of this type of stuff available just now.

Some of you will know that Mr. S is in fact an engineer. A couple of years ago he designed some display stands to be used by an art group I am involved with. If you are handy with a saw, hammer, nails, screwdriver,  and screws, you could make some yourself.

You will need in this instance, peg board; 2”x 2” lengths of wood for the legs and the frame; and some lengths of metal to reinforce the legs and stabilise the top. When we assembled all the pieces we needed, including ferrules (rubber feet) to stop the legs from getting wet, the cost of constructing these display stands worked out at about £200.00 each, which might feel like a lot but you will have them for all of your exhibitions going forward.

The stands were designed and made in two halves so that the top and bottom fold down, allowing them to be packed away in a car boot. As you can see from the photo below, they get regular outings to pop-up exhibitions run by the art group (pandemics permitting, obviously). See more detailed photos at the end of this blog.

Several years ago, I bought some metal racks which are used in shops. Mr. S fixed them to the walls of our garage and constructed a hanging system in the middle, so that I had plenty of display space for the Surrey Artists’ Open Studio annual event. For the Painshill Park exhibition, I plan to take these racks in the hope that I can use them. I am hoping that I will be able to attach them to the tent poles with cable ties so that I can hang my artwork off them, but I am also borrowing the art group’s display stands to see which will work best. It will all have to be decided on set up day but thankfully the venue is close enough that we can come home if we discover something vital is needed.

If none of the suggestions I have made here appeal why not look online for ideas? Google “art display stands” and see if something takes your fancy. Pinterest has some interesting ideas for art stands for both indoor and outdoor exhibitions, which you could possibly make or have someone make for you.

Before you buy anything, have someone make it for you or even make it yourself, do think about ease of transportation. Stands will need to fit in your vehicle; they should not be too heavy to manoeuvre nor too light. You don’t want them blowing over in the wind and you will need them to bear the weight of your artwork, but you don’t want them to be so heavy that you have difficulty lifting them in and out of your vehicle.

Also, if making them in two parts, which I recommend, you need to be able to lift the pieces into position, preferably on your own. There are often very willing and helpful people on hand to assist you put them together, but they might not be in such a great hurry to help you at the end of the exhibition when they are rushing off, maybe feeling tired and/or grumpy, but wanting to get home quickly. Being self-sufficient is the best way forward and then any assistance you get is a bonus.

If you like the design of the stands Mr. S made and you would like to make them yourself, he is happy for me to share the design and construction details with you. They do need two people to put them together and take them down at the end of the exhibition as they are very solid and hinges need lining up but please email me if you would like the full details and I will send them to you.

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safety clips and hinges

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