While I’m chatting with clients on a job, I’m often asked what my favourite art transport journey has been. Within the UK there are lots of interesting places I have visited but for me, the really exciting trips are travelling abroad into Europe. When working abroad, It takes a slightly longer approach to prepare for the job. For starters, there’s tons of admin involved! From figuring out routes, where the tolls are, acquiring different insurance policies, booking accommodation and making sure I have the right tickets for trains or ferries, for it all to go smoothly it all relies on being properly prepared in advance.
Once sorted, I will normally drive down to my family in Maidstone the night before, to make sure I am nearby and up early enough to get the first train over to Calais. This method allows for the best use of time and really removes the pressure of time.
With the logistics all taken care of, it’s off to Calais on the first train of the day. Whenever you are transporting a client’s art, it always pays to take things at a steady pace and avoid rushing, so having the most of the day to allow for any eventuality just makes sense. In February, I collected a sculpture by the artist Jillian Mayer from a French Chateau in Burgundy called Lé Château du Feÿ. This job really stands out to me because after the long trip to make the collection, the director of the Chateau gave us a guided tour of the house and grounds, set in beautiful French countryside with incredible panoramic views. With my girlfriend Poppy alongside me, it was a really special experience and something that definitely doesn’t happen on a normal day!
The truth is loads of people are surprised when I tell them how long you can end up travelling on the roads. A three to four hour drive to make a collection is the norm. What makes the difference is being in unfamiliar territory. The French countryside makes for such an interesting drive because the scenery is so varied and beautiful.
Poppy and I stayed overnight in Joigny which is a small town set on the banks of the Yonne River. The next day before my return journey, I was collecting some artworks from Galérie Duchamp based in Yvetot, Rouen near Le Havre for Nottingham based artist John Newling. Punctuality and flexibility are all part of the service at Van Haulin, so using these European trips to undertake multiple legs really makes a difference to customers, saving them cost and providing them an efficient and convenient service.
The staff at Galérie Duchamp were grateful to see me and I soon had the artworks safely secured for transit. When transporting artworks it is important to be prepared for any eventuality. At Van Haulin we always carry a full complement of packing materials such as bubble wrap, acid free paper, tape and blue foam corners to ensure that artwork is suitably prepared beforehand. Additionally, blankets, foam blocks and strapping ensure that artworks are safely secured for the road. Other aspects to consider are ensuring condition reports are undertaken when possible and, of course, getting signatures before and after transit!
Before heading back to Calais, securing the van at Galérie Duchamp, Poppy and I had some time to explore Yvetot which is similar to a large market town in the UK. A highlight being buying some supremely large, fancy, macaroons. The drive back to Calais from Yvetot is a spectacular coastal road which offers more beautiful scenery. Back in the UK, it's all back to business as usual. I really enjoy these trips overseas, it’s a great opportunity to meet new artists, see a different perspective to artwork and I always come back feeling invigorated and excited to grow my business and see more of what Europe’s art scene has to offer!