Framer Luke Wagner at work with his son Felix fixing the frames on
Sidney Nolan's huge work Snake. Picture: LEIGH WINBURN
Snake gets a new skin
TASMANIAN framers spent three weeks in an underground room preparing a centrepiece for Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art.
Luke Wagner was chosen to reframe Sidney Nolan's mammoth masterpiece Snake, which will permanently hang in the southern hemisphere's largest private museum when it opens later this month.
Mr Wagner has run a framing business in Hobart for more than 20 years.
At 46 metres long and nine metres high, Snake is the largest and one of the most valuable pieces Mr Wagner has worked on.
"As a framer it's a very special thing to be involved in," Mr Wagner said. "Nolan had a great love for this piece."
The artwork was bought by MONA owner David Walsh for more than $2 million in 2006. It was originally framed in Melbourne in the 1970s.
The creation has been assembled in its entirety only twice and has spent a great deal of time in storage.
"It was badly stored, probably in damp conditions and there was quite some deterioration to the frames," Mr Wagner said.
His son Felix and two senior framers dismantled the artwork's 270 frames, each of which houses six individual paintings. In total, 1620 images make up the full piece.
A new mounting board was made in Canada and MONA then arranged for custom-fit glass to be made in Germany that is non-reflective and blocks UV rays.
The original frame was then refurbished, polished and lacquered in Adelaide.
"Then we spent three weeks in the conservation and framing laboratory, on the lower level of the museum, putting it all together," Mr Wagner said.
"We didn't want to make any mistakes with it."
Mr Wagner said it was an "intense experience" to work so intimately on the piece.
"I think that's one of the original reasons I got into framing. To be up close with an artwork is quite an experience," he said.
"Then to stand back and see this massive complexity of images make up one whole image on its own is just incredible."