Paula Rego Part 2: Unpacking and Hanging

By 10am the next day the gallery was buzzing with activity, with Caroline frantically inspecting each of the pieces to make sure they were in the right place…the night before she’d stayed behind late and arranged 15 of the 21 etchings in an order she was happy with.

The only ones left to decide on were the ‘Curved Planks’ series that would occupy the top wall of the gallery, but they were quickly organised between Caroline and James.

Once all the 21 etchings were in place came the unenviable task of mirror plating them (putting attachments on each side of the work so they can be hung)…enter Keith.

Keith, from Estates is an all round art lover and good guy who is a dab hand at mirror plating, so was enlisted to help out. In the blink of an eye 19 had been mirror plated and were ready for action (2 had them on already, saving Keith about 3 minutes, and giving us all time for a tea break).

Once refuelled with caffeine and sugar, the team consisting of Keith, Caroline, and James started to hang the work. Spirit level in hand, the work was going up at a blistering pace, which only slowed when it came to the 5 largest pieces, which required a lot more precision and care due to their size and weight…and price tag.

After about 45 minutes the dust had settled and the job was done. Thanks to the invaluable work of Keith and his mirror plating/spirit level skills the hanging went smoothly and looked extremely good!

The only things left to do were have a slight re arranging of the glass cabinets that were going to be the home for the books for sale during the run of the exhibition, then stick the vinyl lettering to the walls…which proved a bit tricky.

You may or may not know that vinyl lettering comes sandwiched between 2 sheets of paper, and you have to remove the back sheet, press it flat against the wall, then rub the letters through the 2nd sheet, and slowly peel it off, revealing your lovely vinyl text. It sounds easy, and it was for the 1st two signs we put up outside the gallery…the problem came when Caroline was sticking portions of ‘The Curved Planks’ by Yves Bonnefoy (the poem Paula Rego based 6 etchings from the exhibition on) to the wall above the reference library. Roughly, it has 57 separate lines, and lots of pieces that could fall off…things were going well until about three quarters of the way through when disaster struck and the dot from the top of an i fell off and onto the floor…after some desperate searching and a few choice expletives the dot was found and was attached with some glue…there’s also a £5 reward for anyone who can spot which i it happened to.

 After the near debacle of the lost dot, the gallery had been transformed into a fully fledged exhibition, the only thing left to do with a couple of days to go before the show were a few last minute touch ups of paint, and laying out gallery leaflets and exhibition information for visitors, which we will touch on in the next instalment.