Matthew O'Reilly, framer

Framing of paintings 

Frames have two important roles - they support a painting aesthetically and they support and protect it physically.

Often an existing frame needs some modification to ensure that it safely protects the painting. This may involve attaching a build-up at the back to hold the painting in place securely or fitting velvet ribbon to cushion the inner edge of the frame where it touches the painting.

An old frame may need conservation to repair damage and return it to a condition where it can do justice to its painting.

Many paintings are unglazed but, in a gallery, glass is sometimes necessary to protect the painting. In these cases, the framer uses an exceptionally clear glass that gives very little reflection so the painting can still be appreciated as the artist intended.

New frames are designed to complement a painting. This requires considerable historical knowledge of frame design and materials to ensure that the new frame is appropriate. The conservator must also have a wide range of technical skills to fabricate both traditional and contemporary frames.