Galleries - February 2014

deciding on a gallery, check that the layout suits the nature and size of the exhibits. (Horror stories abound of doors having to be removed to allow entry for particularly large items.) Some venues give an estimate of how many works can be reasonably accommodated. Caledonia Armstrong of the Dundas Street Gallery has this advice: ‘The most important thing for our clients is that they allow themselves the time to really get to know the space and consider how best to hang their pictures in it in order to make it their own.’ Emma Judd, of the Suffolk- based team Cobbold & Judd, is an experienced venue-picker. ‘I would look for good light, natural and artificial, to show the works to best advantage. An attractive space that artists feel enhances their work and people want to visit.’ She also emphasizes the importance of checking hanging systems and the condition of walls. The main fear, on everyone’s part, is damage to the space and some galleries, such as the Menier, recommend liaising with their in-house technician well in advance. One of the benefits of hiring a gallery is the speed at which setting up and taking down the exhibits has to be done. This may sound counter-intuitive but anyone who’s put on a show where strict time limits are not in force, such as in their own home, will continued on page 55 glitzy ‘art-cade’ linking it to Old Burlington Street incorporate a substitute for either Gallery 27 or the Gallery in Cork Street? And will they be affordable for any but the extremely well-heeled?) Ease of access and proximity to a nucleus of other galleries is ideal though a theatre or public institution can work equally well for ensuring footfall – witness the success of the Menier Gallery in the Borough and Bankside and the Embassy Tea Gallery near Tate Modern. Most of the long-established galleries for hire have a comprehensive brochure, which can be downloaded, laying out what they provide – alarm systems/security cameras; telephone, broadband, kitchen/office/lavatory/cloakroom; lighting, heat and electricity – and what additional services, suchas extra hands, are available. Having helped organise a book launchrecently, I can confirm how time- consuming and expensive even simple tasks like arranging the hire of tables can be, so it may be worthpaying a bit more for a complete package rather than going it alone. Small oversights can cause great inconvenience. We forgot, for instance, that the receptionist would not be around to open the door, so I spent the evening meeting and greeting, far, far away from the party and drinks downstairs. At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, before 10 GALLERIES FEBRUARY 2014 TEMPORARYSPACE The Art of Gallery Hire – Sarah Drury How often has one heard an artist lament ‘I just don’t know what my dealer does for me. I get one exhibition every other year, if I’m lucky.’ Maybe these dissatisfied souls should take a look at the alternative, the gallery for hire. For many years the painter Peter Spens organised his own exhibitions in Cork Street, with the rigour of a logistics expert. Hanging, framing, catalogues, publicity, private views all require meticulous planning, though surprisingly he advises ‘The most important thing is that you are there meeting, listening and discussing with your public. Also that you enjoy it.’ This sentiment is echoed by dealers who operate without their own premises, using a mix of art fairs and hired spaces to reach their public. Andrew Sim of Sim Fine Art, for example. ‘I try to do as few fairs as possible and to treat each one as an opportunity for a themed exhibition, populated with new, unseen stock. I hope that this makes my offering stand out, so that when I go solo and hire an exhibition space by myself, my audience has sufficient confidence to know that they will be seeing something fresh.’ Location is frequently the deciding factor for would-be hirers, but the redevelopment of areas can lead to popular venues being demolished or taken over for other purposes (will the new plans for Cork Street with the The Troubadour Gallery