‘Moving artworks a highly-skilled task’

New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Moving a work of art, whether for repositioning or an exhibition, is a highly specialised affair that requires both the skills of a professional mover and an appreciation of aesthetics, says the head of arguably the only Indian firm offering the service.

“No one wants to take a chance with art works that have a monetary or a sentimental value; so moving artworks is a specialized field. Moving art requires handlers to be design specialists and no one size that fits in this trade,” Anil Jagtiani, COO of Santa Fe, a large firm of professional movers that counts shifting artworks among its speciality.

“Aside from just packing, transporting and storage of art works, Santa Fe specializes in the security and installation of all types of fine art and antiques,” he added.

Santa Fe was established in Hong Kong in 1980 and then expanded in Asia. In 2008, it bought IR Moving Concepts, a privately-owned Indian company established by Jagtiani.

“Trust is a big thing in art moving. It can be very expensive to buy cheap in this field. The object of packing and creating works of art is to isolate them from vibration and protect from scratching and crushing. This can be done in many ways, but the basic theory remains the same,” said Jagtiani.

“Our in-house specialists produce special crates for every artwork. These crates are made from fumigated wood and the works are provided complete protective cushioning to save them from shocks or vibrations,” he explained.

“The interiors are lined to prevent damage from friction and sealed to provide protection against a range of climatic changes. Crates can be built to any specification requested by the museums when it comes to their international loans and travelling exhibitions or to the demands of a private owner for ensuring a safe transport of his/her collection. All the packing materials are non-toxic, chemically tested and approved by conservators,” Jagtiani added.

“The height and width of the art works are restricted by the sizes of trucks and containers. For bigger pieces, artists plan it in multiple pieces to ensure its transportation,” the COO said.

“Our qualified technicians, with years of experience in handling artworks, guarantee the most accurate and safest packing methodology using specialized materials for artworks,” he added.

Along with the package come instructions on how it should be opened at the other end and also about how it should be repacked, he said.

“Any artwork or installation that needs assembly at destination needs detailed instructions. This is usually done through images,” he explained.

The users have given Santa Fe a resolute thumbs-up.

“We use Santa Fe’s services extensively at the gallery. It is a great idea and very important, especially for international art shipments back and forth from India. Most collectors expect shipments to arrive well packed and transported professionally with utmost safety and security – this service enables all of that,” said Roshini Vadehra, director of the Vadehra Art Gallery here.

Well-known sculptor Shanthamani Muddaiah, who uses ephemeral natural materials in her artwork, said that she had “a very pleasant experience working with the organisation”.

“I didn’t have to chase them around like other companies. My work was delivered very efficiently,” she said, adding: (in terms of other movers) “there hasn’t been any such division between art and other things.”

Noted artist Krishna Raj Chonat appreciated the concept, saying: “Santa Fe has been my primary mover. I am quite satisfied with it,” adding: “There is a big procedural problem when we do it by ourselves.”

For instance, there are major issues when moving an artwork aborad.

“There is no separate window (during custom checking) and the technical panel refers to items only as breakable/non-breakable, perishable/non-perishable commodities. It is a bizarre process including questions like why the material is being relocated.

“Santa Fe has been doing the job for years; so they’ve found a way out to explain to the authorities and also deal with us (artists) efficiently. For us, it’s about time and also about safety” and the organisation takes care of that, he added.

(Mudita Girotra can be contacted at mudita.g@ians.in)



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