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The perfect hanging location for a painting Or When is Art Not A Jar?

First published Monday, 25 September 2017

On Sunday I was at the official opening and prize-giving of the Society of Equestrian Artist’s The Horse In Art exhibition. There had been a period of over a month since I was at the handing–in day, where I had ‘walked’ paintings for the judging process, so was looking forward to seeing the artworks hung as a show. As a full member I am also invited to vote in the Cuneo Medal Award for the best body of work from a Full Member (SEA) of the Society, so I wanted a good look around in considering where to cast my vote. Most of the SEAs had their work hung as collections, but my paintings had been split over 4 walls. Although three of them were close together, the walls were zigzagged so the collection could not be viewed as such. Ah well, having hung exhibitions I know the challenges they bring and that it is not always possible to keep collections within the same viewing space.

One of my paintings, ‘Gathering’ was in an entirely different room . . . hung on a door. Separated completely from the others and, I repeat, hanging on a door. I went outside for a coffee, a cigarette and a calm down. Nicotine and caffeine levels back to operational I returned to the gallery and looked again. This time my reaction was a wry observation that if I supplied a door shaped painting (tall and thin – 48" x 22") then maybe I should not be surprised or offended that that was where it was hung, although I trust said door is not in use for the duration of the exhibit.

So on I went to view the rest of the exhibition in respect of casting my votes in the Cuneo Medal Award and for the Visitor’s Choice. The afternoon passed in the way of speeches, presentations - congratulations to Debbie Dunbar for winning the Cuneo medal – and catch-up-conversations and I settled in as passenger for the hour long drive home. Now there is a funny thing about traveling that sets off my thought processes. In fact I sometimes use bus journeys to kick-start ideas. Maybe it is the enforced inactivity (rare in my case), or something about the scenery flashing by in my peripheral vision, but it sends my brain into wander mode. In this instance my musings turned to my painting and the door.

‘Gathering’ is a painting from my Innocence & Experience Series. It is a painting designed to work on different levels: an appealing sentimentality (common in the genres of equine and animal art) of a pretty girl on a cute pony; a nostalgia stirrer of the endless sunshine Summer days of childhood messing about with ponies; the unreliability of memories in feeding us endless sunshine Summer days of childhood; or my extremely personal reasons and meaning behind the work and series (hint: look up plant symbolism). Regardless of on which level the painting is viewed, I have had reported that most viewers of the piece find the work powerful and compelling or powerful and repelling. I believe that the fact that there are layers speaks to the subconscious even if the conscious is unaware. In art and mythology doorways are powerful symbols. Doors, arches, windows, passages, tunnels and windows mark connections to other worlds, planes, magics, consciousness and psyche. So the symbolism of the (closed) door is actually perfect for my painting and adds a new dimension [no pun intended] to the artwork making a conceptual as well as visual piece!

So thank you hanging team. I gave you the perfect format and you gave me the perfect place for it. Just please, no-one open the door.

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The contents of this article or blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article or blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article or blog. Ruth Buchanan disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article or blog.

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