Guest Speaker: Greig O’Kane

Greig O’Kane from Nevill Studios in Dunedin,  was the guest speaker on Monday night (12th September).

Nevill Studios was opened as a photographic studio on 1934 by the Nevill sisters. Greig O’Kane’s family bought the business over 30 years ago, and began a transformation from photographic studio to framers, after seeing how long it took their framer to get their prints framed, and realising they could do it quicker!


Greig showed us a variety of glasses and mat cuts, and shared some interesting facts:

  • Mat cutters (such as the Logan brand) are getting harder to come by, so if you have one, treat it like gold! One place in Wellington is still selling them along with the guide rails, but it doesn’t look like anyone else is importing them to New Zealand now
  • Greig tends not to use colour mats on black and white prints, as it can be too distracting, so will usually use either a black, white or, occasionally, grey mat
  • He doesn’t believe that colours really go in and out of fashion – what is most suitable to the print in colour and size should look good on almost any wall
  • Nevill Studios recommend neutral or simple frames for exhibition work, so that viewers can focus on the image (e.g. a white mat in a black frame), while in the home, more colour and complexity might be suitable for the environment
  • They use the ‘eye-o-meter’ for working out dimensions – what looks most pleasing to the eye, tends to be the most balanced. Too small of a mat/frame will hem in the image, while it will be lost in too large of a mat
  • They also recommend that the bottom border of a mat be cut slightly wider than the other three sides – by about 5mm for a small image, or up to 15mm for something larger. Greig feels that if the border is even on all sides, it can give the illusion that the image is slipping down a bit in the frame
  • Nevill Studios use either archival hinging tape to fix images to backing boards, or a heat mount press to dry mount the image and flatten it so there’s no ripples
  • They only use acid-free, archival products in their work – anything they do must be completely reversible, so that the art is conserved properly, and not damaged in the process
  • They only use wood or aluminium componentry, no plastic or wood composites.   They prefer NZ made, but some of the gilt or high-end finishes have to be imported from overseas
  • Museum glass is a new technology – it’s super hi-def, with UV coating. It’s not cheap, but is almost invisible and allows the viewer to see the true colour of an image, so is perfect for high-quality images
  • There is also the older style conservation glass – this costs around 30% more than standard glass, while museum glass costs 50-60% more
  • Nevill Studios use a computer mat cutter now, which can do almost any kind of shape from standard to curved or intricate
  • One week’s work by a human mat cutter can be done in about 2 hours by the computer cutter!
  • Nevill Studios sell all of the bits and pieces related to framing, so you can buy whatever you need separately, from glass to dry mount tissue, and hooks and nails are free
  • If you need any advice, contact info here:

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