20 or 30 years ago I did a large (4′ x 8′) experimental art piece for an art class.
It was cut and folded out of Arches watercolour paper with additions of rusted wire and found metal. For our class show I hung it from the ceiling rafters with rusted wire, then took it home where it has languished in the basement all this time, gathering great accumulations of dust.
There are a lot of rips in it and the smaller bottom section has torn off completely and disappeared. The metal pieces I used are who knows where. (Later note: I found the bottom section and also some of the rusted wire. It appears that the piece hadn’t torn off as I thought but was deliberately cut in two as I had no way to transport the full eight feet length. In addition to being used for hanging the piece, the rusted wire and metal was used to thread the two pieces together.)
Now I have a ‘new’ studio (in a 100-year-old firetrap) with ten and half foot ceilings and I’m hoping to resurrect the poor old thing.
The original was two-sided, with pencil and watercolour on one side and lots of brushy dark acrylic on the other.
The pencil and watercolour side as it looked laid out on the floor before I hung it with rusty lengths of found wire. (Later note: this isn’t the final piece as I assumed, but a quarter size mock-up that I haven’t found yet – it doesn’t match the final except in theory.)
The piece started falling down almost as soon as it was hung – here the dark acrylic side is folding over the lighter watercolour side.Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera at the time and had to run out and buy a disposable cardboard camera. In today’s digital world I would have been better able to document the collapsing, changing quality of the piece.
Here is my only shot of the dark acrylic side. You can see how the wires were threaded through cuts in the paper to hold the two sections together.
Before I re-hang it I have to think of ways to make it stronger, sponge off the dust, find the missing piece, find some new rusted metal and re-interpet the painting.
I have decided that this new version will be one-sided only: the darker acrylic side. That way I can put some form of reinforcing tape on the back.
The most obvious thing that occured to me is drywall tape although there are tons of options. Duct tape with its shiny silver surface offers intriguing possibilities along with its strength – duct tape will hold together anything!
Another option is to collage on torn strips of that fibrous Japanese paper made from banana stems. I also have a lot of old rag drafting vellum called Albanine which is both translucent and strong. Using either the Japanese paper or the vellum will change the now ‘hidden’ side but keep it more or less intact if an space becomes available for a two-sided showing.
I will be adding updates as I figure out the transformation.