Although it is completely indecipherable, the frame is a wooden base wrapped in designs taken from Kent Opera posters and the logo on the top. The four corners are from Don Giovanni showing the statue of the Commendatore who is Giovanni’s nemesis in the final scene. The image on the left hand side was reversed. The travelling pattern came from a poster for a performance at the Fenice Theatre in Venice and I have to admit I can’t remember which opera the logo came from.


I felt that a theatrical body like Kent Opera deserved a theatrical frame to mark the occasion so I asked Johanna Platt wife of Kent Opera’s founder Norman Platt, and their achivist, if I might borrow some posters to go through and select to find some suitable parts to use on the frame. The Commendatore was too good to miss and having such a strong image in the corners I did not want to distract attention from it and hence the purely ornamental link. The posters were copied, printed on heavier paper then sliced up and pasted on to the frame.


The frame has suffered a bit and I will see if I may be allowed to deal with the small parts that have lifted, and take an in focus shot while I am at it. Using more modern adhesives it should be a straightforward job to fix.

In front of the attractive woman looking at a picture in The Beaney in Canterbury is a rather out-of –focus image in an odd looking frame. The image is a print by John Ward of Kent Opera’s production of Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten before their funding was cut by the Arts Council. Just visible below the picture is some text which recounts the demise of a much loved Kentish institution.

The idea for this approach came from an exhibition I was asked to frame for the Print Department at Agnews in Old Bond St of the work of Theodore Rousell who was a friend of Whistler. Rousell was an etcher and he etched a series of designs which he printed on to coloured paper and used to wrap his frames in a similar fashion. Rather than do a straight copy, it was agreed that I should ask a then young etcher called Paul Gilbert who used to live in Chartham, to come up with some designs of his own using patterns found on Rousell’s own frames. This he did quite brilliantly capturing the style of Rousell’s etching technique. Just to make the point that these were modern re-interpretations though, we printed on to off-white paper rather than coloured.

Image: Tim Stubbings

Rousell frame etched by Paul Gilbert