Unsure about buying and displaying artwork? Interiors stylist Joanna Thornhill shares her tips for curating your own collection.
Blank walls can feel daunting – but so can the pressure of working out what to fill them with. Here are the key elements to consider when building your own art collection…
First up, get clear on your objectives: yes, you want to fill your walls with stuff you like the look of, but also consider how you’d like your art to make you feel. If you’re after a calming vibe, then designs with similar tones to your room will bring less visual distraction. If you want to create a scene-stealing focal point, something with an element of contrast is a better bet. Maybe you’d like to spark happy memories by commissioning a portrait of a loved one or select pieces that represent (either literally or as an abstract nod)a favourite place.
Next, shop savvy, or get commissioning-clever: although art buying can be accessible for any budget, the trick is to think outside the box if your funds are limited. Postcards and ephemera can be collected for peanuts and given gravitas by popping them into a frame from a charity shop.
Limited-edition prints are usually much cheaper than originals, yet still have an element of exclusivity.
Choosing canvases rather than unframed prints avoids the additional costs of framing. Art fairs and auctions can be a great way of discovering more affordable, up-and-coming artists, so keep an eye out for any events in your area to make connections with local artists.
If you’re looking to invest in a bespoke piece but are budget-conscious, contemporary artist Emma Tweedie (emmatweedie.art) advises providing your chosen artist with a written brief and images of the room the artwork will be displayed in. Ensure sizing, medium and materials are agreed in advance, so you get an accurate quote.
Lastly, curate your display: whether you’re going for a gallery wall or a single statement piece, aim to hang your selections so the centre of each artwork is roughly level with your eyeline.
For a gallery wall, apply this rule to your central piece, then work outwards from there (if in doubt, arrange everything on the floor until you’re happy with your configuration before committing to walls). Symmetrical arrangements will create a sense of order, though for more visual friction, asymmetric will give the eye somewhere to travel.
Above all, the most important thing is to create a display that you love and which brings you pleasure. If in doubt, take the approach of fashion and interior designer Matthew Williamson: ‘Your walls should resemble a mosaic of your life – a patchwork of images that describe your essence.’
How to display a gallery wall at home
THE FRAME GAME
If you’re concerned about creating something that looks chaotic, stick to the same style and colour of frames throughout your gallery wall (or consider painting existing mismatched frames the same colour to ‘cheat’ them into uniformity). Fill any awkward gaps with a few unframed postcards and polaroids to give an air of informality.
Feeling brave? Get playful with your layouts: try hanging a statement artwork off-centre, or pairing two wildly different sized pieces together for a whimsical look. Here, black accents (on the small frame, in the larger artwork and as a trim in the console) have been used to ground the scheme
Try not to limit your ‘art’ to just framed prints or painted canvases: think outside the box and create a more stimulating scheme by incorporating some 3D objects or decorative plates to help break up any blockiness.
EXTR A STYLE POINTS
Wall colours and decorative touches can really support and enhance an art curation: here, nature-inspired artworks are complemented by greens and blues, a wooden console, woven mat and foliage.
Art can absolutely work against a wallpapered background, but to avoid it being overwhelming or competing with your pictures stick to a simpler pattern or design (or place a minimalist artwork against a busier background).
HANG OR HOOK?
If you’re renting, or conscious of putting too many holes in your walls, consider installing a picture ledge instead, which requires just a few screws and can hold an ever-evolving collection of multiple prints. Alternatively, opt for removable picture hooks from command.3M.co.uk, which can be taken off without damaging walls.
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IMAGERY: READ McKENDREE/JBSA, VEERLE EVENS, RACHAEL SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY. ARTWORK: NOLA CAMPBELL, DESIGNED BY KITESGROVE, EMMAJANEPALIN.COM