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Art attack

Manjula Padmanabhan | Updated on March 14, 2021

ILLUSTRATION: MANJULA PADMANABHAN

Three weeks before my art exhibition was due to go up, I had chosen the pieces I wanted to show. Then I ordered prints and sat back to wait.

Let me explain what I mean. Unlike any show I’ve had before, this one is composed entirely of printed reproductions. For some years now, I’ve been using a company that prints and frames art to get copies made of my drawings. In the past, it was difficult and very expensive for an artist to get prints made of paintings or drawings. Today, not only can we make photocopies at home, but we can also get commercially printed reproductions on good thick paper.

Some of you may ask, “Why bother making copies?” The answer’s very simple: An original artwork is often worth a lot of money. It can be owned only by the buyer (or the artist, if no one buys it!). A printed reproduction, by contrast, can be sold for a fraction of the price of the original and, if many copies are made, they can be owned by many people. Personally, I’ve always been extremely keen to sell my work in the form of prints. But it’s never been as easy and convenient, as it is today, to create prints from artwork.

For this show, I chose images from the stored library of drawings in my computer. I resized them for printing then sent the images by email to a company called ImageKind. I’ve done this many times in the past. The company usually takes about one week to deliver and they’re very reliable. While I waited, I thought about how to frame the pieces for display. My plan was to use tiny strips of double-sided tape, to stick the prints down onto stiff black boards. The effect was very much like seeing the prints framed in black. Then, to keep the artwork safe, I would wrap each one in a clear plastic sleeve.

I had bought the plastic sleeves and cut the boards up in readiness, knowing that I had a whole weekend in which to attach the prints. That would still leave me with another whole week in which to feel delighted that I’d got myself ready well in advance of the show.

Alas! Out of the Arctic North a ferocious snow-storm suddenly blew into the US. Mail services were disrupted all across the country. My shipment of artwork was indefinitely delayed. In panic, I planned alternative artworks. “Shall I paint shapeless ink blots and call them ‘Myopia’?” I wondered. “Or should I cut up my underwear into naughty shapes and call the show ‘Erotic Lingerie’?”

With only three days left before the show’s opening, Hallelujah! The heavy envelope arrived! I whirled about, sticking prints down, slipping on sleeves and creating an inventory list. Monday afternoon, with Muriel’s help I took the prints to the Art Annex, where artist, cartoonist and proprietor Wayne Quackenbush was happy to receive them. An hour later, the show was up. Hurrah! And *phew*.

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, US, in this weekly column

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Published on March 14, 2021
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