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Displaying art in big and small spaces

Reason number one for buying any work of art should always be because you love it. Speaking on behalf of gallerists and artists, we want people to buy art purely because they have developed a real connection with a piece and, in an ideal world, art would be bought entirely out of love and not influenced by practicality. But let’s be realistic – we all need to live in comfortable, functional homes, which come in all different shapes and sizes, so practicality often comes into play and can creep into the decision-making process.

However we don’t believe being practical means you have to limit your choices – we offer up our advice on how to display art whether you have room to spare or your space is small but perfectly formed…

Look up!

If you are short on space, a great way to give the illusion of more is to accentuate the sense of height in your home. Displaying a collection of smaller artworks above eye level draws the eye up and a vertical gallery hang can suggest a higher ceiling – Jane Emberson’s works on paper would be brilliant for this, adding a flash of colour in a compact space.

Alternatively, placing a quirky piece above a door or within a set of shelves, something like Jaco Putker’s eccentric etchings, to catch the eye and draw the onlooker in, is a clever way of adding a sense of depth and extra space to a room.

Make a bold statement

Do you have the space to display one very large piece and go for maximum drama? Going with one single statement piece can help bring the whole room into proportion and balance the space. Be brave and opt for punchy colours and strong forms if you have a clean space to fill – something along the lines of Chuck Elliott’s digital works would create a real impact. Although that’s not to say bold has to be bright though – Kelly O’Brien’s paper works would be just as striking with their muted palette. If you do fall in love with the idea of a large piece and find the perfect artwork, hang it in plenty of space and keep the rest of the room minimal.

Anchoring your room with a statement piece creates a great focal point. It’s not impossible to do this in a smaller space too, as long as there is enough surrounding space for the piece to breathe and it doesn’t dominate. Art should help us create a harmonious and elegant living environment not overwhelm!

Multiply it…

An alternative to one large piece is to create the same drama using a cluster of smaller works, drawings and studies. These clusters can be extremely effective in both large and small spaces. The key is to have some kind of unifying theme, be that one consistent colour in all pieces or maybe a similar subject matter.

Keep the frames and styles varied and throw in a few unusual pieces like mirrors, plates, maps or postcards – anything that will demonstrate your personality and individuality. And don’t feel these works have to limited to prints and paper works – Plum Neasmith’s smaller paintings, for example, would bring great depth and texture to a salon hang.

At the end of the day we will always advise you to buy the art you love – be the work large or small, and your home stately or bijoux, your choice will bring atmosphere, character and meaning to the space and ultimately help make it your home.

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