Category Archives: Thoughts & reviews…

Antlers do it again!

It’s been a while, sorry no images…oops

I’ve been to a few Antlers shows in the last couple of years but their latest offering “Spatial” has to be my favourite so far!  In their blurb it introduces the show as bringing together five artists that explore ideas of architecture and space with their practice.

For starters, Antlers Nomadic Gallery are just great at finding quirky spaces to show in.  This time, we were led to a disused industrial unit near Temple Meads Station (the description of which, does not do the space justice).  The space is unfinished with wires hanging about but still has a beauty all of it’s own.  What I admire about Antlers is the vision.

The winning combination of finding great artists and spaces just gets better and better for me.

There was something really peaceful and spacey about wondering around (helped by the appropriate music).  Just hanging some of the works on chains, suspended from the ceiling, gave it such a hugely different feel.  It just changed the whole experience for me. Yes, something as simple as that!  The simplicity is also the genius of it though.  In contrast, the artworks have so much going on, sometimes complex and the level of detail and depth just takes your breath away.

Having seen some photos of the private view, they didn’t do the Shard 1 & 2, (made using Mild Sheet Steel & Glass) pieces (by Josie Irvine) any justice at all, Seeing it in the flesh was a must and I loved how it merged into and reflected the buildings around as well as the harsh interior, it felt like it lived there.

As ever the artworks and artists chosen, worked brilliantly with each other.  Jonny Byles, Starscape(s) are amazing but I can’t pick out any one  artist over the other.

With a brief touch on the framing side, as is quite normal, most were simple black or white frames, all of which suited and were executed very well in the main.  My only advice on this side would be that one of the bigger pieces suspended, in particular, suffered from light pollution which obscured your vision from almost all angles.  Perhaps an investigation into the different types of Art Glass which have more of a true view than you get with plain glass and would have “less” reflection.  It’s a difficult one, as it means more monetary investment in framing, but in my opinion is worth it.  Using non reflective would have killed the piece, so well done for not using that!

This show is over now but you can see images and catch up on the conversation buzz at

Congratulations on another fab show!  What will they do next?  Would be a pleasure to entice them up to the new exhibitions space I manage just outside Bristol?  We’ll see!

Artists were: Josie Irvine, Jonny Byles, Geoff Diego Litherland, Matthieu Leger and Sarah Jeffs.



End of year thoughts…

Haven’t had time to blog for a little while.  So, one year after moving to our new framing premises, from Cleeve to Chelvey, where has the time gone?

Every year it’s important to look over your business with fresh eyes and try new things, see what’s working and what isn’t and build on what you already have.  Take a look at your surroundings, see what you can do to inspire your customers in terms of what can be done.  Be creative, give information and give them a visual guide of materials and ideas.

Next year though, I’m going to do something that we all forget to do.  Take a look at yourself, see if you are getting the best out of your business and are you getting what you need?

Without dwelling, this year I’ve lost a family member, a dear friend and fellow red wine drinker and various other minor disasters.  It’s said all too often that life is too short and health is so precious.

If you are happy and fulfilled then that also shows in your surroundings and the way you come across.  This year, I continued to be a voluntary committee member for an Arts organisation in my spare time, something I did for myself and because I have a passion for promoting the Arts.  I’ve gained experience in running all sorts of art events and have become responsible for their events and social media.

This gave me the confidence to make a decision to apply for a part time job (working around the business).  I did this for me, but it will have an impact on my business.  I start in January helping to manage a fantastic Arts Centre in the area.  This has actually given me more enthusiasm for the framing business and the outside influence of dealing with art on a daily basis, should get my creative juices going, and I can pass those ideas onto our Framer.

So, my advice to you all is, sometimes, just sit and look at your business and see how you sit within that business and see how you feel.  Do something for you and it might just inject some extra passion into your work.

Have a lovely Christmas and New Year!

Bristol Guild Gallery-Through Another’s Eyes Review

Well, I have to say, straight in here with a wow!   What a good quality exhibition by these collection of Artists.

Most of us in this area would have been to the Bristol Guild Gallery on Park Street at one point or another.  It’s a really nice space at the top of the building.  It’s got good light and a nice feel to it.

I thought the exhibition was really well laid out and it made for a lot to look at.  The group complimented each other’s work beautifully with a good number of bits to buy to suit all budgets.  From gorgeous one off original artworks to wonderful handmade broaches.

I went along after an invite from Customer, Textile Artist and fellow North Somerset Arts Committee Member, Debbie Pawle.  It’s always lovely to see new works and also see some our own framing work in situ.  Debbie’s work is contemporary.  Her highly desirable pieces of textile art would add a touch of class to any home.  I loved the way she laid and hung some of the collection on pieces of driftwood, showing them off to the full.  (the Framing wasn’t bad either!).

Apart from the scrumptious wearable pieces such as scarf style necklaces and broaches (which I particularly fell in love with), there are a set of works, set in acrylic cases.  These were really different and if I’d had the money, I’d have brought a piece like shot, absolutely stunning.  As were the monochrome fabric vessels.

I have to be honest and say that all the framing in the exhibition was of tip top quality.  I’m very pleased to say that for a change!  Liz Hewitt’s work had been framed beautifully and the block mounted photographs by Dominic Hewitt were of excellent quality (along with the work) with the sides finished off just prefectly.

Overall, it was really nice to see a whole exhibition of good quality and not one artist’s work let down the others.

Fabulous guys, well done and well worth seeing!

You can still catch this exhibition until the 7th of July, you can see more information here along with a list of who is exhibiting.

Black is the new black …

Black mounts … Ooooo scary!

We get this quite a lot; people seem to have a phobia about black mounts.  They are too heavy, unfashionable and not neutral enough.  The customer will cry “Black? Yuk!” and look at it as if you really don’t know what you are talking about.  Next time this happens, if you are confident that Black would be the right choice for the picture, quietly put it down with the other choices.  Quite often, you’ll hear “oh actually…”

It all depends on your picture of course and what frame you decide on.  Sometimes choosing a mount just because you think it’s neutral can make it look wishy washy, dead or worse still …  just OK.

Black can look stunning and make a picture really jump out.  It can be that extra punch it needs.  It can go with a contemporary look or a more traditional look.

Set of family black & white photo’s. Oak frame provides a nice contrast to the black mount. Used white core mountboard to give a crisp white edge on the two outer pictures. It’s a nice contemporary look which makes the photo’s jump forward rather than merging into the mount.

If the picture is dark in nature, say like a black and white photograph, choose a black mount that has a White core to give a crisp edge.  If you want it to blend in or the picture is light, you could choose a black core.

Note: the core is the colour you see on the inside of the mount when you cut through it.  For example, you can get a white mount with a black core running through it, like the picture below.  Try to avoid anything with a cream core (although this can work with a very old picture) as the core will tend to yellow over time.  Most Framers tend not to stock cream core anymore as it’s not of conservation quality.  Anyway, I digress.

So, there’s not a lot else to say really but all I’m saying is … don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.

More examples below …


With the medals mounted initially on a neutral board and the script on white paper. Once again the black mount provides a contrast with the squares and the frame.

Close up of the same frame


Certificate, black draws you in and pulls out the greeny/olive colouring in the certificate and frame.










Sometimes a little subtlety is required!

Memorabilia works well with black, used white edging to emphasize

“letter box” type black mount with white core. Blends with frame and then the outer part of the frame compliments the photo.

Similar colouring and same frame

Lloyd Gill Gallery – Weston Super Mare

One place I don’t get to very often is Weston Super Mare, so after coming across a new exhibition being launched at the Lloyd Gill Gallery, I suddenly felt ashamed that I hadn’t been in a long while!

The Lloyd Gill Gallery is a little gem, tucked away in the lovely back streets, full of beautiful old Victorian buildings.  Set up in an old house, this long established space is wonderful.  It has stripped floor boards and big light windows.  The exhibition space is mainly situated in the two large front rooms and the hallway.  Director, Lloyd Gill, told me that the gallery exhibits Artists from all over the world, not just the local area.

With a warm Saturday night welcome and a nice glass of red wine on offer, I started to meander through the rooms.

The space is filled with an eclectic mix of pieces from various artists under the collective title of “Undo the Tangible”.  A full essay on the exhibition as a whole and the artists taking part is available to download from their website and has been extensively written by Lloyd.  I’m not much of one for essays, I like to just see and feel my own way around.

All the Artists are listed at the end and full details can be found on the Lloyd Gill Gallery’s website.

As with all my reviews, my curious interest is mainly in the way artwork is presented to the public.  It’s just my thing (and my business!).  In writing up these experiences, I hope to reach out to artists.  I want them not only to think about their wonderful creations but also about how they package and present these to potential buyers.  This also applies to the hosts of exhibitions such as galleries.

I really liked the way one of the artists had displayed their photographic pieces.  Photographs were mounted onto board (looked like foam board but could have been a mount board).  It had no frame but was presented simply and I thought that this was perfectly fine and suited the work.  The subject matter had a lot to say, so didn’t really need any added complications to the surround.

Julien Guibreteau’s pieces were really very clever and I probably enjoyed viewing these the most.  Kasia Turajczyk’s collection drew me in, I couldn’t work out whether it was the sometimes dramatic brush stroke backgrounds or that I’m just terrified at the thought of a set of puppets and toys smiling back at me!  Which probably says more about my brain than hers!

As with most exhibitions (even Museums!), I’m afraid that some of the pieces could have benefited from either; some professional framing or just a little more attention to detail from the artist.  Some of the frames had black bits inside & glass was slightly unclean.  Sorry!  This is not supposed to be a criticism, more of a bug bear.  I personally wouldn’t pay over £300 for a piece of work that hadn’t been presented as well as it could have been, even if I loved the work.

By this I mean, not that you should have to pay for expensive framing but if you are fitting the work yourself, take a little more time to get out those bits of fluff or clean the glass properly.  Yes, it does take longer but it will make a difference to your work!  At some price levels, you could easily build it into the cost.  Actually I think you could probably charge more if it looks really well presented & compliments your piece.  Before anyone shouts at me and if you are a first time reader of this blog, please see one of my early pieces on the subject, I hope it will help you see where I’m coming from.

Having spoken to lots of art buyers in my game over the years, it can put some people off buying, more than you think, especially if they think they are going to have to spend money out on re-framing the piece.

To sum up then.  It’s really worth a visit to this exhibition and it ends on the 11th of May 2012.  The space is lovely and there are lots of new exhibitions planned for this year.  I urge you to spend a bit of time getting lost in the work and the knowledgeable and friendly owners will no doubt be on hand to answer any questions you may have.

I look forward to the next one!


Louise McNaught
Joe Webb
Julien Guibreteau
Irene de Buffieres
Kasia Turajczyk
Alissa Cohen Solal
Chris Barnickel

Gallery details:

The Lloyd Gill Gallery, 13 Beaconsfield Road, Weston Super Mare, BS23 1YE

Open: Mon-Sat 10am-4.30pm

Let there be frames…

A very short, sweet and basic introduction to the history of frames, stolen from various sources (cited at the end before I get lynched)!

In the beginning there was life, then religion, then religious icons, then picture frames! (This isn’t the BBC, don’t write in please, I know it didn’t really go like that … no, I’m well aware, it’s more like, life, chocolate, and then picture frames)!

When I first started becoming part of the world of picture framing, I never even considered it beyond, getting a piece framed in the best possible way.

But as the years have gone on, it’s a subject that I have become hungrier and hungrier to know about and just can’t get enough of the depth of knowledge there is about art and framing out there.

So, last year I decided to start reading up on the subject (especially after I took a Gilding course, which I much enjoyed but was useless at!)

Apparently, picture frames as we are familiar with now, were first housed in ecclesiastical settings but its origins go back further.  It’s believed that frames derived from borders way back 3-4,000 years ago!  Borders appeared on such things as vases and tombs.  They “framed” narrative scenes and decorative panels.

What Came First the Art or the Frame?

According to a piece written on the website of Statens Museum of Kunst in Denmark:  The surface of the painting was often provided with a frame before the artist even started the work.  Sometimes,  painting and frame were carved out of the same piece of wood. This is known as an integral frame.  This would have been around the 1300’s.

Example of an Integral Frame
Lorenzo Monaco (c.1370-1425), Coronation of the Virgin, 15th century, Tempera, gold-leaf on panel, integral frame gabled top
Height: 195 cm; width: 154.7 cm, The Courtauld Gallery, London

It’s thought that early Christian art adapted the use of borders and amongst other things used them on altarpieces.  The frame as we know it today then started to form.  These were not just as a nice decorative border but with the purpose of protecting the artwork as well as emphasising, complementing or enhancing a piece.  In the 14th and 15th century, altarpieces were becoming more elaborate replicating the Church surroundings.  The Tabernacle frame is basically a condensed form of a Church altarpiece.

Example of a Tabernacle Frame
Taken from

It struck me as I was writing this piece.  Thinking back, I remember being told off by my School Art Teacher for drawing borders on everything I did.  “Get beyond the boundaries and limitations” I can hear him say.  (Think he was a bit frustrated with me, since his former Pupil was my very talented Sister!)  Now, borders are part of my everyday job.

I’ve put some examples of what could be early decorative borders in relation to what I’ve talked about above.

An Italian Tomb

Image taken from Canterbury Galleries website. Royal Doulton pot with borders.

Dear picture with borders

I love Islamic Art (which is why when in London you’ll always find me at the British Museum) whether its brass works, ceramics or drawings and I’ve realised that there are lots decorative style borders in these patterns which also reflects in the architecture.  In fact, when you start looking around anywhere in the world, it’s ridiculous how much borders/frames actually do appear in our daily lives!  Anyway, I digress.

Decorative islamic Tiles

Pottery piece with borders

Frames develop over the centuries depending on period and country.  There is much written about this and with the sources below you can go on to discover from the experts.

Personally, I love the Renaissance period.  It’s elaborate and romantic.  I am in awe of the level of detail and the skill of the craft.  I keep promising myself to go to Italy and do a tour of the Churches to see the frames in all their finery.

I had no idea of the deep rich history attached to frames.  It amazes me how little people think about framing as a skill (and I was one of them).  In this country, we want to know about our food, where our clothes are made, who painted this and that, the processes and all about them, but yet one of the most beautiful everyday items, most of us have in our homes and which house our precious memories, gets very very overlooked.

Note: Sources apart from those above are and a great YouTube video by Michael Pacitt of Image Art Production and a great reference book by Paul Mitchell and Lynn Roberts “A History of European Picture Frames”.


Review of the Digerarti and the Glitterarti – Gallery@

After my long day at Interiors UK (see previous blog), I was up fairly early to get into Weston-Super-Mare for the launch of The Digerarti and The Glitterarti exhibition.

With the wind blowing hard and in the peeing rain, there I was standing on the Grand Pier, oh the glamour!  Here they were unveiling a 15ft banner to publicise the launch.  Thoroughly good fun.

A team of over 20 talented artists and digital creative’s  lined up in the wonderful West Country weather to show off examples of their work (on the banner).  This marked the launch a new digital community hub and the opening of a new art exhibition at the Gallery.

After the publicity event, I walked back (in the rain, are you feeling sorry for me yet?) to see what it was all about (oh and to get my breakfast of coffee & a pastry!).

Members of the ‘Digerarti’ and ‘Glitterarti’ are from Bristol and Somerset are and include both first-time exhibitors and renowned award winners.

The eclectic mix of services offered by the Digerarti include web design, app creation, photography, videography and more. Whilst the work of the Glitterarti include sculpture, collage, tattoo and street artistry as well as more traditional art mediums such as portraiture and seascapes.

On view were wonderful displays by Chris Harding of Mouse Proud and 3D Film Maker Neil Richards.  Quirky Photographs were also being shown including a set from Rupert Marlow.

Upstairs in the light and airy space that is the gallery, are a mix of Sculpture and Artwork from a range of Artists such as the always superb, Jane Cartney.

This exhibition is ongoing and will change on a regular basis to showcase new and exciting work.  Well worth a visit.

The Digerarti and the Glitterarti can be seen at The Gallery @ in the Digital Photo Studio, Locking Road, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 3BY – Twitter @oldmemories_new