Earlier this year we were called upon by artist Rachel Ara to pack and transport six of her incredible neon sculptures from her studio in South East London to locations in Seoul, South Korea and Vienna, Austria.
Neon is extremely sensitive to shock or vibration, so made to measure crates with provisions for high level of protection were designed specifically for the artworks. To make the job even more interesting, the neon tubes were mounted on large steel frames which would simply crush the neon tubes of the artwork if the frames were allowed to move inside the crates. Additionally, no internal cushioning material could be allowed to touch the tubes themselves, as any pressure on them from the outside edge of the crate would also crush them against the steel frames.
Prior to starting the pack our technicians designed a lattice-work structure of timber that could be built around each steel and neon structure, to be erected one piece at a time.
The first art work was placed on the base of its crate and from there the crate walls were assembled around it. This provided the vertical support required to start building the lattices. Each timber section, cushioned with padded foam in precise places, was slipped through a mass of cables attached to neon tubes. Any snag or slip could rip a cable or even break a tube meaning the whole sculpture would require a repair and rebuild.
Whilst planning a project, packing the art itself is only one part of logistical consideration. Whilst designing the packaging method for this artist, we had to bear in mind the width of access to the artist’s studio as well as the turning angles around corners in order to delicately manoeuvre the cases. The final result in this instance was 10mm to spare, not a lot, but enough!
Because the neons are so extremely fragile, we also opted to add Skidmates to the bases of the crates. Skidmates (commonly known as doughnuts) are special feet made from polyethylene which provide an additional layer of cushioning to the outside of a crate. By adding these we were able to ensure that the contents would be safe when the crates were lowered to the ground with a forklift or pallet truck, or at any time that they might experience vertical movement during their flight to Korea, or truck journey to Vienna.
With the well-planned design and expertly executed packing method by the TFA London team, both artist and clients were delighted that all sculptures were received on time, in perfect condition, at both locations.