Where do you go to find good affordable and original art? And once you’ve got it, what’s the secret to putting different pictures together? Here, Red's interiors columnist Kate Watson-Smyth shares her art-buying (and hanging) wisdom...
How to get artwork right is one of the questions I am most often asked and while I’m not one for rules, there are undoubtedly certain guidelines that seem to work best.
So, where to find the good stuff? I have to say, I am not a fan of sites that sell lots of generic posters at lower prices. Don’t get me wrong; affordable is good, vital even, but when you scroll through Instagram and see the same wall art again and again, it does take away any sense of personality and individuality from your own space.
That said, Instagram is also full of great artwork that you can buy direct from the maker. There are sites such as riseart.com, which has an array of paintings, prints and sculpture, with plenty of works under £100; and affordableartfair.com, which has nearly 5,000 pieces under £500.
I prefer to take a more personal approach to my own walls. I have framed vintage magazine covers, cinema tickets and my kids’ art, as well as postcards, photographs and exhibition posters.
You could even create a gallery of tea towels. There’s a great collection of vintage and new designs at todryfor.com, and the Tate galleries’ shop sells some featuring designs by artists including David Shrigley and Louise Bourgeois.
When it comes to hanging pictures of different shapes, styles and sizes, an easy trick is to keep the frames fairly uniform in colour so that they don’t detract from the art. Play around and create interest by placing different-sized pictures in the same-sized frames so they can be easily hung in a grid, if you prefer that to the organic randomness of a gallery wall.
If you are planning a gallery wall, try laying everything out on the floor first
so you can experiment before you start bashing hooks in. If you are hanging larger, single pieces, make sure the centre is roughly eye height (the most common mistake is hanging them too high), and try to avoid a straight line between the top of a door or window and the picture. A small painting off to one side can be really effective, instead of it getting lost in the middle.
As far as family photographs go, there is a (perhaps slightly old-fashioned) school of thought that they should be on shelves, not walls. I don’t necessarily hold with that, but perhaps keep them to a stairwell or landing rather than plastering your cherubs all over the sitting room.
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