Tucked away in outbuildings at Chenies Manor are various skilled individuals who excel at their own crafts. Occasionally two or more of the creatives get together to bounce ideas or contribute to one job. The last joint project by Jane and Andy Smith of Framework Studios and painting restorer Alison Gunter turned out to be rewarding and exciting for all involved.
Nothing fazes Jane and Andy Smith. They will tackle framing anything of value to customers (past jobs have included veteran’s medals, a horse blanket and a saxophone as well as needlework and paintings) but when it comes to satisfaction, they say, you can’t beat framing precious art. So when workshop neighbour, art restorer Alison Gunter of Todd Gunter Restoration, showed them an oil painting by marine artist Peter Monamy they were keen to be involved in the restoration commission.
“The scruffy looking painting had been literally built into a wall of a back staircase in a stately home” explains Alison, “It was pinned in with skirting board but when the building was taken over by a college they asked for my advice on restoration. I recognised the signature to be 17C/18C marine artist Peter Monamy and told the client it could mean a great value . Monamys are very collectible, there is one in the Tate”
Alison has restored painting for the Royal Family, the Rothchilds, Blenheim Palace and the Paul Getty collection.
“ My work is a lot to do with looking after the arts, preserving it for future generations – taking it forward” says Alison, “ It is about conservation as much as restoration and everything I do is reversible. I love it and couldn’t wait to get started in the Monamy.“
“There are five levels of framing and this marine painting was at museum level” adds Jane, “So we use higher grade framing as we are preserving for the future. It has to be the right glass and fixed in a way that it can be undone if necessary and uses no acidic tape but sealed so no insects can get in. It is a huge responsibility. The painting was 9ft long so it was a case of finding a moulding supplier that could fulfill that brief! We had budget restrictions so I used gilt paint and aged it.”
Bringing the painting back to life was challenging for all three craftsmen.
There was considerable damage due to a leaking roof,
“It needed extensive cleaning and repair” says Alison, “paint had fallen off the top section due to water damage, It had been filled with lumpy Polly filler and had to be re done with the correct materials.
“The painting wasn’t true either’ adds Andy “ it was well off square at the corners because of its age. We did a dry run to make doubly sure it was right. If we cut the moulding 2mm too short we would ruin it – you can’t squash canvas.”
“It’s a bit like a wedding dress fitting!” laughs Jane,. “we always do several trial sessions to get it perfect!”
The Monamy work was more than perfect and the revived painting is now hanging in its new home.
“ It was a labour of love but so worth it.”
Peter Monamy,1681 – 1749
Alison, Jane and Andy are based in the grounds Chenies Manor
For advice and estimates
Alison@toddgunterrestoration.com 07737 904249
firstname.lastname@example.org 01494 766686 (more details opposite)