Buyer’s Guide: The Art of Moving

MOVING HOUSE IS STRESSFUL, BUT THE ADDITION OF A VALUED ART COLLECTION CAN MAKE IT TERRIFYING. WRITER BRIONY DOWNES EXPLORES HOW TO GET FROM A TO B WHILE KEEPING YOUR COLLECTION SAFE.

Joanna Lamb, House 012018, 2018. Acrylic on board, 120 x 160cm.

MOVING AND STRESS go together like cardboard boxes and sticky tape. But while furniture is relatively easy to pack into the back of a van, the transportation of valued art collections requires a lot more care. Done incorrectly, sculptures can be broken and canvases compromised – so, what’s the best way to ensure your art is protected on the journey? We track down some specialists to share their tips on safeguarding your precious cargo.

MAKE A LIST
Lisa Paulsen, a well-known Sydney art collector who has recently relocated, says a good way to start the moving process is to document your collection. “Rigorously check every artwork prior to wrapping and storing,” she says. “Take detailed photographs and make condition reports for each work, as this ensures you have a record for future comparisons if needed.” When hiring a professional to help you pack, do your research to confirm they have solid experience working with art of all mediums, including antiques and any treasured personal items. Always communicate your needs and any important dates to the team you hire before the move takes place. Lisa suggests being “present as much as possible to supervise the work”, and checking that your insurance policy covers artwork in transit.

PACK IT UP
If you choose to DIY, use bubble wrap and plain paper to wrap artworks, as newsprint can leave unsightly marks. An art supply shop can provide speciality packing materials such as Glassine to place between unframed drawings and prints. For sculptures and odd-shaped objects, pieces of foam can be used to protect corners and protrusions before an item is wrapped. Neale Robinson from Artwork Transport regularly works with museums and art festivals like the Melbourne Art Fair and the Biennale of Sydney. He says that “soft packing is definitely a requirement” and suggests minimal handling of artworks. If you’re looking for an extra level of protection, companies like Pod Museum and Art Services can make custom plywood crates to fit around individual pieces.

CONSIDER THE CLIMATE
Depending on what your collection contains, you may need to consider a climate-controlled vehicle, particularly when moving from a cold climate to a humid location (or vice versa). Most art transport companies have these on hand, and some are available to rent. But if you choose to do it yourself, prepare for a workout. “Art transport is high labour,” Neale points out. “Everything needs to be lifted on and off vehicles and secured onto trucks.” Carpentry skills also come in handy. “Crated items are easier to manage as uncrated artwork needs to have a considerable amount of thought when planning a load.”

REAP THE BENEFITS
When you and your art collection arrive safely at your new location, it is time to find new homes for your pieces. At this stage, it is crucial to check your hanging hardware will support the weight of a framed piece. You might also consider plinths and lighting options for objects and sculptures. Again, you can DIY or hire a professional art installation crew for this purpose. It is here that the labelling process pays off. For Lisa, the benefits of knowing what is inside a wrapped package once you are in your new home is worth the initial outlay of time. “Identification is easy and quick no matter how the work has been placed whilst in transit or storage.”

Joanna Lamb, Interior 15 Colours no.4′, 2012. Acrylic on canvas, 103 x 140cm.

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