Wed, 27 Aug 2014
Gallery Etiquette

The National Gallery used to be quite strict: no photography. Not even of the big Sainsbury Wing staircase. Now it's all change. Quite a surprise, but a pleasant one. If you read the post at the Evening Standard, you'll note that not everyone is happy though. According to the gallery :

As the use of wi-fi will significantly increase the use of tablets and mobile devices it will become increasingly difficult for our gallery assistants to be able to distinguish between devices being used for engagement with the collection, or those being used for photography.

For that reason we have decided to change our policy on photography within the main collection galleries and allow it by members of the public for personal, non-commercial purposes.

I'm pleased because I like to be able to take photographs, not just of pictures I like, but of the rooms and spaces in the building. Or even the people. I often like to use the photo as a record of what struck my fancy that day, maybe research later or put on the blog.

I'm not sure I see too many downsides: there are always people standing in front of or around the popular paintings, and taking a photograph takes little time. It's a bit depressing seeing how many people seem to only see the painting (briefly) via an LCD screen before quickly moving on to the next display though. Not really looking at the pictures really, other than snap ... snap ... snap. There are some noisier cameras as well as annoying people. But hasn't it ever been so? The gallery staff still have to shout out on occasion when people try to take pictures of things they're not allowed to (most things from private collections, perhaps copyright issues).

Anyway,now I can take pictures of some of the great paintings on display, including the edge of a well known Van Gogh, the Chair, and zoom in closely :

Look how rough the canvas is on the left, where it's bare of paint and meets the frame. It's almost like a hessian sack, and quite a shock compared to some of the smooth cotton canvas you buy in the art shop round the corner. It's a shame I can't run my finger over it to feel how rough! No wonder Van Gogh laid the paint on so thick sometimes.