TRANSPORT & PACKING
With much of an artist’s attention focused on creating their artwork and supervising it’s progress through the foundry, it is easy to disregard less immediate issues such as preparations for the delivery and installation of the finished sculpture. Whilst essentially an administrative task, failure to take account of the organisation and costs potentially involved in transporting and installing sculpture commissions can be a expensive oversight, especially large scale projects.
Most small scale art or design works can be shuttled between the artist’s studio and founder’s premises in a car or light truck. Prior to loading, some form of protective packing around either master pattern or cast may be desirable, if not essential. Suitable packing solutions here can range from a simple plastic air bubble wrapping (adequate to protect a small plaster pattern in transit to the foundry), through to professionally constructed packing cases for shipping and export overseas. In addition to a protective packaging, it may also be necessary to design and build cradles and other temporary supports for the securing, lifting or positioning the sculpture, either for transit, or INSTALLATION.
It is important to ensure a suitable size and type of vehicle is booked to transport a large scale master pattern or completed cast. Height, width and weight limits on commercial vehicles can easily be exceeded and sculpture is rarely of the optimum shape to allow for a satisfactory stacking of multiple items (unless fully crated). It is good practice to obtain the maximum clearance dimensions the box truck or flat trailer booked to transport a large work, this information can be used to sketch out an optimum load layout if necessary. Any loading diagram should allow for permissible overhangs and door clearances; crane, forklift and other lifting and access needs may also need considering. Some of the tractor units used by specialist transport companies carry a self contained crane lift (often called a 'HIAB' unit). Self contained cranes can be ideal for lifting mid-sized works on-site. Whilst some of the larger HIAB units can handle jobs weighing 30 tons or more, permissible loadings are significantly reduced as the telescopic arm extends away from the tractor unit. This can be a potentially limiting factor if locating the vehicle adjacent to the sculpture’s intended location is not possible.
In most countries the driver of a vehicle is legally responsible for their load, therefore transport personnel will almost certainly refuse to carry an unsafe or overweight cargo. Professional drivers are also often subject to enforceable restrictions on the number of hours that they can continuously drive; these regulations may affect a carrier’s ability to deliver to a long distance destination at short notice.
The cost of packing, transportation and other related services is not normally included in a foundry quotation, unless otherwise agreed. The expense of packing and transporting a work is therefore borne by the artist (or other), though most foundries will supply a basic packing protection free of charge. Occasionally a complimentary pick-up and delivery service will also be offered. On request, art founders are usually able to organise an appropriate packer and carrier on an artist’s behalf. Most foundries will also organise transport at cost price, though more complex arrangements may incur a handling charge – especially if extensive administrative duties are required of the founder.
For the purposes of handling, packing and transporting fine art works such as cast sculpture, suitable service companies can be broadly divided into two categories. The first is the general transport company, which typically handles a wide variety of goods, of which fine art and design objects are incidental. General transport companies can vary greatly in the standard and quality of service they offer artists. There are inevitably a few transport operators who manage to damage or loose an unreasonably large number of goods in their care, as well as those who offer service levels close to those of the best art and antique specialists.
As a rule, most general transport companies are quite capable of delivering a well built master pattern or metal cast. However, caution should be exercised when arranging the movement of more delicate artworks, including metal casts or antiques with fine patina and other delicate finishes. When considering the use of a general transporter, it may be best to get a personal recommendation, either from the founder, or from a colleague who may have previously employed the company. There are a number of non-specialist transport companies who have excellent reputations, in fact some art and antique shippers will on occasion sub-contract specialist or excess work to the best of these operators.
The second category of transport and packing company used for the transfer of artworks is the specialist art and antique handler. Art and antique shippers are often significantly more expensive to employ than their non-specialist counterparts, though relatively few general shipping companies can provide a comparable level of service, specifically designed to ensure safe and secure packing, documentation, delivery and installation of delicate/high value artworks to and from any country in the world.
Paying premium rates to an arts and antiques specialist to ensure security and peace of mind can be a worthwhile investment, especially in the absence of recommended alternatives. In any event, it is usually worth first discussing matters of packaging and transportation with the founder, they will usually be able to advise on the appropriate level of transport service for a particular job.
WARNING: Avoid prolonged contact with and remove sculpture from plastic protective films and other packaging as soon as possible to prevent sweating. Trapped moisture cause a reaction, adversely affecting delicate finishes such as patina. Be aware also that any residual resin content in unlined wood packing cases can react with and severely damage delicate surfaces/metals.
Antony Donaldson's 'Master of Suspense'
20t steel casting secured on a low loader.
(© A Donaldson).
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