Friday, 7 May 2010

Feedback from Artist Mark Shields

When all the elements of a painting lock together, when everything seems to have found its rightful place, the painter is as close as he can ever be to claiming the picture is finished. But if the work is to be framed then the painting is in a sense still being continued. Thoughtless framing has the power to undermine the delicate balance of forms and colours so assiduously constructed by the artist.

As a result many painters prefer to leave their works unframed, others make and colour the frames themselves. A great deal of trust is required to leave one's pictures in the hands of a framer. It's not always understood that a painter doesn't merely want a frame which suits his work- which in my view is one which does not draw attention to itself, does not weaken the essential functions of the painting yet at the same time satisfactorily contains the image, concentrating the viewer's gaze- but also one which is compatible with the actual ideas or mood communicated in the work. This is why a framer willing to work closely with the artist is important but rare.

With Matt Jones and his framing team one is immediately reassured of not merely willingness but an eagerness to have this involvement where possible. There is at once the confidence that this is an experienced team at both framing and at listening to artist's ideas. Only when a frame finally surrounds a painting is the extent of its effect fully visible. Few of us have the time or money to have a selection of frames made to aid our decision so again it is essential to feel confident in the framer's judgment and once again even when decisions have to be made speedily I feel reassured that, should something unforeseen occur, the John Jones team would have the discernment to alter accordingly or seek the artists opinion again.

I, in co-operation with my gallery, Grosvenor Gallery, have been using John Jones for framing on and off since 1997 and with the work ranging from sharply defined realist Heads and still life’s through to dark, low contrast landscapes and a couple of official portrait commissions thrown in along the way the team have had plenty to challenge them. No 'one frame suits all' here. 'John Jones' is one of three different framers who have helped with this latest body of work, "Here and Elsewhere".

The paintings that Paul Tame and his colleagues have been working on are mostly 5ft by 4ft with one 6ft by 5ft and have a very matt, chalky surface giving the impression they could be sections removed from ancient tomb paintings or chapel frescoes. Since this surface is bound up with the technique and ultimately the meaning of the works they needed to remain unglazed. It seemed best that the selected moulding should not sit out too far from the picture plane and not be too elaborate or glossy. The subjects have a pared-down and primitive quality so the frames needed to be quite austere and yet have a recognisable stamp of quality to their finish. Not too grand or Drawing-Room-like. Within quite tight time constraints Paul and his team produced very pleasing results.

Keeping the same profile for all the works, the frames were given a subtly scored and speckled distressed appearance, the colouring of each unobtrusively matched to each individual painting echoing their earthy tones and surfaces sensitively.

The width of frame suited the scale of the works well and the deep sides gave the pictures the substantial weightiness required to accentuate the appearance of an almost carved and chiseled shallow relief suggested in the technique. All of this enhanced the monumental quality I was hoping to achieve in the works. My congratulations and thanks again to all at John Jones for their hard work, advice and support (the team also very kindly showed up at the preview- which is beyond the call of duty when they have so many shows to frame for).

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