A sure way to inject personality into a space is to create a gallery wall of carefully collected paintings, prints and photographs. For a truly Instagram-worthy display, we recommend laying artworks on the floor to find a composition that feels balanced and connected before taking a hammer to the wall. Try starting with a larger painting at the centre of your grouping, and surrounding with complementary works, for a gallery that feels unique and in-tune with your home.
FAREWELL TO FRAMES
For a look that suggests informal elegance, why not do away with frames altogether and display artwork the natural way? Try hanging vintage wall charts from wooden skirt hangers or hooks for an industrial feel, or create a lively office space by sticking up posters and cards with colourful Japanese washi tape. Fully customisable and budget-friendly, these techniques mean you can play around with combinations to find an arrangement that perfectly matches your space.
BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL
We all dream of owning a dramatic Old Master or a sensual Renaissance portrait (anyone got £100m they could lend us?). But if you don’t fancy flashing the cash at Christie’s, oversized wall murals are an ingenious way to introduce works by the world’s most renowned artists into your home. From Picasso and Rossetti, to Constable and Turner, murals are a daring alternative to paint or wallpaper. Most come in manageable strips for easy application and, for less confident DIY-ers, some are even available with a handy sticky back. Style with pared-back furniture for a look that’s chic and romantic.
TAKE TO THE FLOOR
So as not to damage walls covered in precious wallpaper and panelling, or for those living in rented accommodation, leaning pictures against walls or atop dressers and cabinets creates a relaxed feel. It’s best to pick a sturdy frame to avoid any warping, and prints can be rearranged whenever a room needs refreshing.
If you love to rearrange your collection of artworks, picture shelves are a great solution. This picture ledge from Ikea has been a hit with interiors bloggers, plus it has a special groove to keep prints at the perfect angle. We’ll take three, please!
Create a coherent display by colour-matching paintings to existing antique collections. For example, black basalt teaware could look distinct alongside a moody monochrome photograph, or pair chalky pottery with a gentle whitewashed still life.
MIX IT UP
If it’s the sleek and sophisticated look you’re after, choosing matching frames is the way forward. But for those with an eye for the eclectic, a hotchpotch of frames and prints from different styles and eras adds a sense of playful fun.
ONE STEP AHEAD
The wall space alongside a staircase is often forgotten, and it’s prime for displaying artworks. Stick to monochrome prints and frames for a dramatic feel, or up the saturation with clashing tones and patterns. Try staggering frames in a gentle incline for maximum effect, and break up any similar works with quirky curios, wall hangings, ceramics or trailing plants. If you’re feeling particularly bold, why not paint your steps or balustrade in a contrasting colour? Or pick a stair carpet runner in a complementary shade to complete the look.
A PLATE FULL
We love displays of prints, paintings and sculptures… But why stop there? Whether you have a carefully curated collection of vintage china, or an incomplete dinner set inherited from a relative, positioning plates on a wall can be a whimsical way to update your scheme. Swirl around room corners, scatter across a wall, or create a striking display of colour and pattern with a tight cloud-like cluster. If you’re dreaming of an impressive arrangement, regional auction houses or antiques fairs are great places to pick up pretty sets or quirky one-off pieces to match the existing colours in your home. Pair with hand-painted contemporary counterparts, by designers such as Laura Bird or Rory Dobner, for a fresh and upbeat combination.
ECHOES OF THE PAST
Subtle artworks can create a harmonious background in antiques-filled rooms that won’t steal attention away from statement pieces. For a traditional finish, look for art motifs that reference the past – vintage fairs and markets are a good place to start – along with gilt or solid wood frames to add an elegant finish. Oil paintings and watercolours naturally lend themselves to classic interiors, but for a look that oozes antique charm, try framed insects or pressed flowers to create a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ impression, or retro film and music posters for old-fashioned glamour.
Buying Original Artist’s Prints
Serena Fokschaner talks to art dealer Caroline Wiseman about original prints and how they offer an affordable way to own works by established artists
‘Buy what you like’ is the comforting mantra trotted out to anyone wanting to start an art collection. A more prudent approach is to find a piece you like that also has long-term investment value. But where to begin without breaking the bank? Curator and dealer Caroline Wiseman advises you to consider artists’ prints. ‘An original print is conceived, executed and overseen by the artist using techniques like etching or screen-printing, to achieve effects you can’t replicate in paintings or drawings,’ she explains. ‘An original print is not to be confused with a giclée print, which is a mechanical reproduction of an artist’s work.’
Original prints are produced in editions ranging in size from 25 to 250. A work from a smaller edition (under 100) will have more value than those from a larger print run. The size of the edition is marked by the artist on the bottom of the artwork. Condition is important: tears, fading, foxing (mould), trimming (where a piece has been cut to fit a frame) or inept framing can all affect value, while a signature will always add value.
When it comes to artists, prints by Royal Academicians are a safe investment. ‘You can buy works by Royal Academicians such as Chris Orr or Eileen Cooper for a few hundred pounds. They have a reputation, so if you’re looking for something that will keep its value you’re always better off buying a work by an RA, or a known artist. An artist’s membership of the RA is for life and means their work is shown at the museum. It’s increasingly difficult for artists to show work in galleries, so that exposure is key.’
Twentieth-century masters such as Picasso, Chagall, Matisse or the prolific Miró all produced prints (these are not always signed). Prices for their work has remained static for the last decade, says Caroline, so now is a good time to buy. However, prices for David Hockney have soared in the last decade. ‘I recently sold a rare Hockney etching for £12,000, which has probably shot up to £20,000 now,’ she says. Other names to look out for include Albert Irvin, Tessa Newcomb and Anne Desmet.
Artichoke Print Workshop in London is a studio where artists produce prints for clients including the V&A and the British Museum. Art presses such as Paragon, Advanced Graphics and Counter Editions also produce and sell exceptional-quality works by a wide range of artists.