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Cutting Corners On Picture Fixings Almost Ruined Art Exhibition

May 22, 2008
Organizing an art exhibition can be a lot more complicated than it might seem. It is certainly more complicated than banging a few picture fixings into the wall and hanging some paintings from them. A friend of mine who organizes exhibitions at various galleries around London tells me that she constantly has problems trying to balance out the demands of the artists with what she knows is good practice for keeping the kind of people who visit art exhibitions happy. Of course, achieving the latter is of benefit to both the gallery and the artist, but she has no end of problems getting this point across to the artists, who often want the presentation of their work to be as creative and unique as the production of it.

Leaving aside the egos of the artists though, one of the biggest near-disasters she has had while organizing an exhibition was caused by something that none of the visitors will even see - the picture fixings. Throughout her career my friend has always used the same kind of picture fixings, not because she had any reason to believe they were the best picture fixings available, but simply because they were the first ones she ever bought and they had never let her down.

The problem started when the gallery she was working with started to try and cut the cost of the exhibition she was organizing. They had recently lost some funding from a major backer and were facing the prospect of difficult financial times ahead if they did not either scale back their outgoings or find new investment. It was at this point they started to take a much greater interest in exactly what my friend was spending their money on. When they found that actually she ran a pretty tight ship and that very little of what she was planning could be sacrificed without seriously undermining the potential success of the exhibition, it was then that they started to cut corners just for the sake of it - starting with the picture fixings.

Someone from the gallery found a picture fixings supplier that was slightly cheaper than the one my friend used. Thinking this to be a fairly minor issue, she agreed to change of suppliers, even though the savings they offered were fairly minimal. However, when the fixings arrived and she began work on the layout of the exhibition, it became clear that reason these fixings were cheaper than the others was because they were vastly inferior in quality. The artist's work was unusually large and the screws were simply not strong enough. After one painting fell of the wall and became badly damaged - enough for it to be withdrawn from the exhibition - my friend was left with no option but to abandon these picture fixings and return to the original ones.

It was a harsh lesson for the gallery, who ended up paying for two sets of picture fixings. From then on they realized their financial woes were not going to be eased by cutting corners with something as small as picture fixings.
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