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Welcome to Sophie Ridley

Halfway through my placement, I am getting very used to finding the halfway mark – in paintings! I’m a student from Durham University’s MA Museum and Artefact Studies course and am on placement at the Salisbury Museum for four weeks. It couldn’t have been timed better as I’m here for exhibition changeover with Joyce, the Exhibitions Officer – and right now that means lots of hanging works of art with those halfway measurements.

To hang a whole room with a series of pictures is something that previously seemed incomprehensible to me. So many different sizes and shapes of frame – where to begin?! Fortunately, there is a straightforward process that starts with laying the works out visually around the room to get the spacing right. After that it’s a simple task of measuring the desired space from a wall or a previous picture, employing the crucial eye-level height stick to mark 1.6 metres, then making sure the halfway point of the image sits at that level. Finally, drill the holes and screw the work in place. Job done. So long as the levels are still straight…

Hanging the works is actually one of the later things I’ve been helping out with. To get to this point where we are installing British Art: Ancient Landscapes (8 April – 3 September) a lot of preparatory work had to take place. I’ve unscrewed, packed and carefully moved pieces from the outgoing Constable in Context, chatted with the art couriers who handle the higher value works, painted walls, filled holes, drilled new ones and moved cases.

Exhibition changeover in a two-week period is intense, but I’m learning a lot and thoroughly enjoying the varied nature of the work. It’s certainly keeping me on my toes, with just enough time in between to work on designing a family trail – but more on that in my next post.

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