Work at Height of a Different Type

Work at Height of a Different Type

06th April 2017

When we think about work at height, we normally think about construction work of some sort, especially roofing work.  However, any type of work that means that you need to use access equipment to reach a particular spot or area is classed as work at height, even somebody using a ladder in an office environment to reach high shelving or change a light bulb.  Work at height always requires training of some sort, even if it’s just a basic course on using step ladders safely in the workplace.  Today we’re going to take a look at an unusual type of work at height – hanging paintings with tips from the experts.

The first thing to consider when hanging a work of art is where the works are to be displayed.  Whether it’s a domestic space, a business premises, a gallery or institutional venue like a museum, it’s important to take context into account.  The social, political and architectural context is relevant here, as are all the other elements in that space.  Are there doors or windows that will impact on the aspect of the painting?  What about electrical plug sockets and light switches which will have to remain accessible? 

Take a look at the wall where the painting is to be hung – it’s actually just as important as the painting itself.  This is especially relevant when hanging more than one work on a wall – the negative space acts as a path which will lead the eye of the viewer from one object to another and so on.  You’ll also need to pay attention to the fixings used to hang the painting – a single central fixing will cause the work to hang forward or move when somebody brushes past it so double fixings on either side of the painting is recommended.

Another vital issue is the height at which to hang the painting which will depend on several factors, including ceiling height and the furniture in the room in which the painting is to be hung.  The height used by museums (and displays at Christie’s, the historic British auction house, is at 1.55 metres to the middle of the picture.  However, if the painting is to be hung in a domestic setting, then it’s fine to play around with the height – hanging a group of paintings aligning the tops of the frames, for instance.  It really is a matter of personal taste, especially with groups of paintings.

Finally, don’t just trust yourself to work it out by eye and get it right – your eyes can play tricks on you.  Always use a tape measure and spirit level to make sure that your painting(s) hang straight – this is especially important when hanging groups of paintings on one wall.

And, don’t forget, if you can’t reach the spot comfortably to hang the painting, don’t just grab a chair, hop on and hope for the best.  Get a step ladder which will allow you to get the job done safely, especially if you follow our safety advice for using ladders in the home.