Over the past week at SAM there have been a numerous amount of deliveries in the form of angels. Ceramic angels, that is, by one of Australia’s greatest artists, John Perceval.

In the lead up to SAM’s major exhibition Delinquent Angel: John Perceval’s Ceramic Angels opening to the public Friday week, SAM staff have been working to ensure the safe arrival of nearly 40 angels from across Australia. ‘This exhibition has been in planning for well over two years now,’ SAM Director Kirsten Paisley said. ‘It will be such a delicacy to view this many angels in the one space.’

When you realise these fragile pieces are coming from as far as Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, it all makes sense. The angels are first condition checked and packed at each lending institution into pre-cut foam, then into boxes, which are then placed into purpose-built crates, and then they arrive here in Shepparton on specialised art trucks with air suspension.

As the angels arrive at SAM they are rested in the art museum’s environment for a day, then carefully unpacked from the crates, and taken out of their individual boxes and examined, before being placed on display. The whole idea is to avoid too much handling, so their display spots are worked out in advance.

Professional conservator and artist Penny Byrne has been working at SAM over the past week to oversee the unravelling of the angels. Her job is to identify and manage any risks to the artworks and work out how to avoid damage. ‘I feel really privileged to be working on this project,’ Penny said. The angels are a real delight. Each one has its own cheeky characteristics. It’s going to be fantastic to see them all on display together in the exhibition.’

A time-lapse video of the installation process is also being created so stay tuned for next week’s post on this.

Delinquent Angel: John Perceval’s Ceramic Angels will open to the public on Friday 29 August and is free entry. If you’re interested in learning more about John Perceval and his ceramic angel series, head to SAM’s website www.sheppartonartmuseum.com.au, or follow updates on Facebook.

Image: Conservator and artist Penny Byrne is working at SAM this week to ensure the safe arrival and display of 37 ceramic angels for upcoming Delinquent Angel exhibition. Pictured is Angel with Lute, 1959, glazed stoneware, 24 x 34 x 19.5 cm. Collection: Art Gallery of Ballarat, the William, Rene and Blair Ritchie Collection. Bequest of Blaire Ritchie, 1998