Textile artworks are often presented unframed in gallery exhibitions. There is a wonderful tactility about a piece of textile art that isn't imprisoned behind glass, however in my experience framing can be a good way to present delicate textile work and remove possible buyer barriers. If done correctly, good quality framing gives an artwork a neat professional finish, protects and preserves the artwork and makes it easier to hang (and possibly sell).
95% of the artworks that I sell are framed. This choice to frame my work is a very conscious one for both practical and conceptual reasons and I believe this way of presenting my work have contributed to the success of my art business.
When I first started creating my embroidered sculptures I would often display them by pinning the embroideries directly to the gallery walls, or stitching them onto canvases. While these pieces looked great and people seemed to love them, they rarely sold. Feedback I received from galleries was that people were concerned about how to hang or clean the work in their own homes and were tentative to take on artwork that wasn't in a 'standard format'. Potential customers seemed to be disappointed that they couldn't just take the artwork home and easily hang it on their walls. Understandably consumers want safe, easy to care for art that doesn’t require special care or installation methods – so framing was an obvious next step for me.
When it came to developing the best way to frame my work I spent a lot of time researching and developing a presentation method that would safely secure my work and present it in the best possible way. One of the things that I loved about pinning my work to gallery walls was the dynamic shadows the work created in the right light. I wanted to retain this shadow element within the frame so explored various mounting methods and box framing options until I found the best solution for the work. Inspired by the mounting techniques used in natural history museums I developed a way to pin my work so that it was permanently spaced slightly off a backing board. This gave the illusion that the embroidery was floating in the frame; showcasing the lightness and sculptural aspects of the embroidery and casting those beautiful shadows that I loved.
Once my embroideries were framed they looked even more like preserved museum specimens, which aligned well with the conceptual ideas of my work. The framing makes the artwork somewhat precious and adds a level of intrigue becasue people can't touch the art - even if they really want to. It is like a little world inside a glass box and I have since had many comments about how my work is so professionally presented.
Since moving to predominantly framed pieces my work is now much easier to transport, hang, store and care for. Exhibition installs are quick and easy since most galleries are set up with hanging systems for framed work. My work is also much more user friendly for the collector. They look good, are easy to hang and don't require any special care or cleaning. There is really no practical reason not to take one home with you.
Choosing to frame my artworks was probably one of the smartest moves I have made in my art practice to date. It has certainly added to the appeal and accessibility of what would otherwise be very delicate and 'hard to hang' artwork.
In my next post I will discuss a few more of my findings and tips for framing textile artwork (or any artwork for that matter). So make sure you check it out.