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Stunning Gallery Makes Its Mark


Hamilton Litestat?s Digital Mercury lighting control system has been featured in the new premises of Philip Mould Gallery in Dover Street, West London, to provide effective scene setting capabilities that maximise the visual impact of the gallery.

Special wiring accessory plates were also manufactured by Hamiltons for this project using their Henley range in order to provide triple plates combining 13amp sockets with data outlets or 13amp sockets with 5amp lighting circuit outlets. These were finished in a special antique bronze to complement the gallery?s stylish interior and to allow the plates to be recessed, unobtrusively into the stone skirting.

Philip Mould is a world renowned art dealer that regularly appears on the television programme ?Antiques Roadshow?. When he decided to move from his first floor gallery in Dover Street to a 3000 square foot ground floor gallery, on the opposite side of the road, he commissioned Charles Marsden-Smedley, to design his new gallery. This is the third gallery project that Charles has undertaken for this client in 18 years. Specialising in the design of museums, galleries and exhibitions, as well as top-end lighting designs, he has been responsible for many prestigious projects in Windsor Castle, Queen?s Gallery in Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, and the new Central Hall in The National Maritime Museum, to name but a few.

?The brief for this project was to produce a gallery with a twenty year lifespan that not only allowed Philip Mould to conduct his business effectively?, said Charles, ?but at the same time would clearly demonstrate how paintings of any period can look good in a contemporary interior. As the building is located in London?s most important art dealing area, a really impressive frontage was required to draw the eye away from the other galleries in the road.?

To satisfy the client?s brief Charles put together a professional team to prepare a tender for a main contractor. This included M & E consultants, Wilson and Partners with whom Charles had worked on a number of other occasions. It was part of their role to manage M&E services including the air conditioning, fire detection, electrical installation and security system.

Having stripped out the area back to its bare shell, Charles set about sub-dividing the space to create separate rooms with a very contemporary feel which included; a front gallery, side gallery with reception desk, showing room with picture rack areas and pocket doors to create a private meeting area/dining room and a long gallery which is top lit with natural daylight. There are also three top lit offices, a room for Philip Mould, a Central Office, along with a library/office and kitchen and toilet facilities.

All the air-conditioning equipment, fire detection, security and lighting were concealed above newly created suspended ceilings. In the front and side galleries these ceilings stop 1m short of the walls to allow the hanging walls to extend up to the existing slab. This was done for two reasons, firstly it allows for the largest full-length portraits to be hung and also it concealed the picture lighting to avoid any distraction when looking at the paintings.

By using the medium of glass to create one large shop window, Charles was able to make the gallery highly visible from the road. The interior layout, with its clean, contemporary shapes, along with the careful use of lighting, made the gallery come to life, particularly after sunset.

Commenting on the layout Charles said ?It has been designed to maximise views of the paintings, creating the longest possible vistas and good sight lines. At night there is a view from the street right through to a painting on the back wall of the Central Office and another of the two ends of the Long Gallery creating lots of interest and a powerful focal point.?

The intricate layout of the gallery required an effective lighting scheme to create the sense of space and drama that would attract the buyer?s eye and achieve the client?s original vision. To do this, track-mounted spotlights or recessed gimbals by Remote Lighting were used to create the desired picture lighting. The use of a hand-held remote controller allows for the individual luminaires to be focused, dimmed and turned on and off. The advantage of the Remote Lighting fittings is that they allow maximum flexibility for the constantly changing hangs and they avoid the use of step ladders to adjust the lighting each time a picture is changed.

Overall control of the lighting was achieved with Hamilton?s Digital Mercury lighting control system. This system has overall control of the gallery?s ambient lighting and the ability to override the Remote Lighting so that the track spotlights and gimbals could all be dimmed during night hours, or turned off when not required.

For ease of use the system has featured a global control unit at the main entrance to the gallery so that all of the lighting can be raised, lowered, or turned-off by the touch of the appropriate button. Digital Mercury has also included a security mode which is operated on a timer mechanism. This automatically lowers the lighting to a pre-set level, at a set time, and then repeats this process some hours later to further reduce the amount of power usage when the gallery is unoccupied. In the event of a power cut, Digital Mercury has been designed to automatically reset itself, once the power source is reinstated, thus avoiding the loss of the set programmes

In the event of an alarm activating the security system has been linked with Hamilton?s lighting control so that it automatically brings the lighting up to full power to enable the security cameras to track any intruders.

To allow for easy presentations to invited groups, the gallery has incorporated a projector and screen which are concealed within the ceiling void when not in use. These can be lowered and operated by using a remote device. This system has also been interfaced with Digital Mercury so that the lighting can be easily controlled to suit the presenter?s requirements.

This lighting control system features digital technology to mix the various channels of light, in order to create the required scenes and lux levels. By using intelligent dimming, the user is able to alter the stored lighting scenes, using the remote control, thereby making it quicker and cheaper to reconfigure the system. This is a major advantage for the gallery as once the system is installed it doesn?t need a specialist engineer to alter the settings as the gallery staff can reprogram it themselves to suit their own requirements. Once a scene is programmed into the system, Digital Mercury remembers the setting and then recalls it each time the appropriate controller is used. To make Digital Mercury even more user friendly Hamilton Litestat has included inbuilt fade rates to enhance the system?s capabilities.

?Our client is delighted with the overall effect achieved for the gallery?, said Charles. Since it opened at the end of last year it has become the talk of the art-dealing West End. The use of Hamilton?s lighting control system provided a very flexible solution which has played its part in enhancing the visual appeal of the gallery. Its practical design makes it very user-friendly, so that it will be able to keep pace with this client?s constantly changing requirements.?

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