THE TIMES - february 2001
"A framers that also sell pictures and posters, although most of its stock is film-orientated. I bring everything here to be framed - it is the first picture framers I have found
to be professional and inexpensive. The staff are excellent at giving suggestions and advice"
Ed Wilding, proprietor of Paramount Pictures,
can easily remember the most unusual piece of art he's framed. "A retired Spanish art critic, living
in Mapperley Top, was given an original Goya etching," he says. "He had all these artistic
connections and was such an interesting guy. He'd known Jean Paul Satre in Paris in the Sixties.
"I called the Brewhouse Museum to say, 'How do I deal with this?' and they said,
'Whatever you do, don't touch it.' So I framed it wearing gloves. I was fairly nervous."
Usually, Paramount Pictures' most expensive
commissions are around £200. Ed shows me an example: a huge black and white Life magazine cover,
two thirds scudding cloud to one part American gas station, which he's framed ready for
collection. "The sale of the textile mills, turning them into apartments, has really helped us
sell bigger pictures," he explains, "People have room for them now."
"The walls of the high ceilinged shop are lined
with around 200 pieces of art which Ed has chosen and framed to sell as seen. They mix
perennial favourites with those designed to chime in with trends."
Ed used to be an accountant, but after deciding number
crunching wasn't for him, he and a friend - his former business partner - started afresh.
"The original plan was to be a self employed accountant, so we took the self employed bit and
thought, 'What can we do?' I didn't have any particular passion for art, although I've always
They settled on professional picture framing as someting that could be self taught,
using Thatcher's Enterprise Allowance Scheme. Paramount opened near the Broadmarsh Centre
in 1985, moving to its present site - part of the old location of Mushroom Books - at Heathcote
Street in '86. The walls of the high ceilinged shop are lined with about 200 pieces of art which
Ed has chosen and framed to sell-as seen.
They mix perennial favourites with those designed to chime with trends. For example,
Vermeers's 'Head Of A Girl In A Turban' is on display at the moment, after it formed the inspiration
for the book and recent film Girl With A Pearl Earring starring Scarlet Johansson. And Edward
Hopper's Night Window is there to coincide with the current Hopper show at the Tate Modern.
Ed estimates his custom is a 50/50 split between
pictures chosen directly from the display, and those specially ordered from his encyclopaedic books
of prints. "We offer to order any print that's distributed nationally, and that's quite a unique service.
There are tens of thousands of images to choose from... we have Vermeer to Pop Art, Hockney, Warhol or Turner."
In-house, Paramount tends to specialize in more modern art. "It just suits the
profile of the customers, I think," Ed says. He can easily pinpoint the all-time best seller:
any black and white image of Audrey Hepburn, both stills from Breakfast At Tiffanys and "candids".
"She's an icon for young people, old people, gay people... she's androgynous."
Ed believes people have become more open minded
about art in the 20 odd years he's been trading. "People would look at Rothko (abstract art) and
say 'What the hell is that?' Now they don't need to look at a picture and see straight what 'it is',
they're happy to get a feel for it.
When it comes to framing, Paramount uses
natural unbleached woods, which can be dyed to create subtle colours. "It is important to match the frame to the
artwork. I have people who come in and say, 'My sofa is this colour so I want this frame.'"
'Forget the furniture' is the framing message.
You have to look at the picture and the frame as a self-contained
unit and make them work together
After two decades, which pictures is Ed
sick of looking
at? "Personally, I'm not keen on Tamara de Lempicka. Apparantly Hitler really liked her work...
with the fascist associations it really leaves me cold. But they're very popular!"