Article by Nicole Swengley
The Big Picture
Choosing a single, high-impact painting or photograph for a living room wall can spark a whole colour scheme, as top interior designers Taylor Howes and Natalia Miyar testify. Co-ordinate soft furnishings with the artwork’s primary hues but buy work for your own enjoyment, rather than investment, then you will happily live with it for years. Find your star piece at the Affordable Art Fair’s London venues (Battersea Park, bi-annually; Hampstead, annually; www.aaf.com) where original, contemporary artworks from emerging and established galleries cost between £50 and £7,500.
Or visit the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition (13 June – 20 August), the world’s largest open submission exhibition for contemporary artists. Unique work and limited editions plus picture-frames are also sold online (www.royalacademy.org.uk).
Looking to add wow factor for under £100? King & McGaw (www.kingandmcgaw.com) offers framed or unframed fine art prints including gallery and museum reproductions.
Top Tip – Spread the Cost
Buy a unique, contemporary artwork or limited edition from online gallery, Eyestorm (www.eyestorm.com) and pay in interest-free instalments over two to four months. Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha and Helmut Newton command big bucks but other works start from £250. The Arts Council-partnered Own Art scheme (www.ownart.org.uk) offers interest-free loans for works by living artists costing £100 – £2,500 from member galleries, spreading repayments over 10 to 20 months.
Selecting bedtime soothers can be challenging. Online gallery, Will’s Art Warehouse, offers a 10-day Home Approval scheme so you can live with an artwork without financial commitment. Choose from the website for delivery and at-home test-drive. Love it? An instalment plan spreads payments over 12 months following a deposit. Home visits with consultants bringing a variety of art to try are also available.
Top Tip – How to Hang
Where you hang artwork depends on room layout and furniture but eye height is a general rule of thumb. Tate gallery’s generic hanging height has the picture’s centre at 62in. (157.5cm) from the floor. When planning a layout, follow gallery practice by placing your arrangement at the foot of the wall before inserting nails.
All Your Favourites
Grouping smaller pieces packs a strong visual punch. Themed photographs or prints work well – or group different subjects by size or style of frame. The Photographers Gallery (www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk) is a key hub for photographic exhibitions, events, talks, courses and prints (also sold online).
Or follow interior designers Kit Kemp and Cath Kidston to the London Original Print Fair at Somerset House (30 March – 2 April) where prints spanning five centuries of creativity include leading contemporary artists like David Hockney, Grayson Perry and Cornelia Parker (also sold online; www.londonoriginalprintfair.com). For original prints and works on paper by top-league artists like Howard Hodgkin, Bridget Riley and Ben Nicolson head to internationally renowned gallery, Cristea Roberts (www.cristearoberts.com).
Top Tip – Be sure your ‘limited edition’ is an original print – not a reproduction – especially if buying from online auction sites. Original works have a signature and edition number (ask for a letter of authenticity if unsure).
In the Frame
Framing isn’t difficult – check out online advice and how-to videos. Mounts should preferably be acid-free, 100% cotton rag. Non-reflective glass is useful in very light spaces. Avoid direct sunlight (or use UV-resistant glass) and rotate artworks occasionally to prevent over-exposure. Professional framers include Darbyshire (www.darbyshire.uk.com); Frame London (www.framelondon.com); Bourlet (www.bourlet.com).
Top Tip – Look for old mirrors at car boot sales then frame and hang as a fun collection while adding depth to a room.
PICTURE CREDIT: courtesy of Mylands