Bringing your walls to life

Luke Parker
Bringing your walls to life

The right work of art in the right place can transform a house to a home with personality and life of its own. But selecting the perfect piece and location can be an art in itself.

With so many price-points, genres, colour pallets, and artists, it’s sometimes hard to know even where to begin.

Auckland gallery owner, Trish Clark, says knowing a few tips and tricks when making a selection can make the process not just easier, but more rewarding and productive when it comes to your end result.


Not an exact science

Trish Clark

“Art brings life and soul to places, or at least it should,” Trish says. "It can expand space or contract it. It can achieve feelings of space, calm, vigour, surprise, and delight. Equally, art that is not very good or is unsuitable for the space it is in can cause jangled, unpleasant, and congested feelings.” 

SEE ALSO: Choosing your colour scheme

She says there’s no exact science or correct approach to selecting an art piece.

“Sometimes I might sit on it and other times it’s more instinctual and I might get it right then and there.

“I bought my first artwork when I was 19, in 1974. But I had been visiting galleries and looking in stockrooms from the age of 13, so when I found this thrilling small Philip Trusttum in a gallery I trusted, I bought it immediately. Thereafter each bursary cheque I received during my university studies, I bought another artwork.” 


Shop around

Trusting your gut if you feel you have enough knowledge and confidence is something Trish encourages.

“Go round galleries and see which ones feel simpatico with you,” she says. “It’s important not to get too tied up in thinking about investment. Open your heart and your eyes and don’t listen too much to what’s hot and what’s not. I’ve seen many ‘hot’ artists disappear from view over time.”

Like buying a house, it’s important people do a fair bit of looking around before they start buying when first starting out, Trish says.

“It’s not like you're going to the design store to purchase something at a certain time when you’ve decided to buy, because art is more individual and unique than that."


Finding your art's 'happy place'

When it comes to positioning and hanging art, the Arts Foundation patron says there are lots of no-no’s.

“But at the same time there should be no rigid rules. Each artwork really determines what can and can’t be done with it. Some of the best installations are when you place things unexpectedly, but that should only be the case when the work itself seems to suggest such treatment.

“Most artworks have their ‘happy place’ where they really sing. Great art can look very compromised in poor positioning, so it’s really important to really try different positions and find where works best.” 


Know your seller

Trish says she'll buy artwork from a variety of places including art fairs, national and international auctions, as well as reputable New Zealand and overseas galleries who represent a range of interesting artists.

“I have learnt never to trust reproductions of artworks, except for photographs. Typically reproductions tighten up what I call ‘flabby’ works and they also tend to remove the x-factor that makes the work sing. So I recommend websites only as an educational tool for research.”

SEE ALSO: Choosing your colour scheme

10 things to consider when choosing an art piece

Look at as much art as possible before you make your selection

Check out local outdoor exhibitions, co-op and non-profit galleries, art in public spaces such as banks, restaurants, and libraries, as well as museums and for-profit galleries.

Search for great art that you favour

Online auction sites are one great place to search. Check out the self-representing artists for your best value. There are many artists who represent themselves at a savings to you.

Visit art school shows

Find out when students are going to exhibit their work and head along. 

Select art by size to fit a particular space

Art that is too large will overwhelm and art that is too small will be lost and look out of proportion. The bolder the art, the more room it needs to breathe. Measure the space you want to hang the art and leave enough "white space" so that the painting will not feel crowded.

Choose artwork that harmonises with the colour of your room

When selecting a painting to match colour, select one or two of the boldest colours in your room and look for art that has those colours in it. You're not looking for an exact match here. Picking up one or two of the same colours will send a message that the painting belongs in this environment.

Opt for paintings that match the style of the room

If your house is filled with antiques, for example, you'll want to use antique-style frames on the paintings you hang there. If you have contemporary furniture in large rooms with high ceilings, you'll want to hang large contemporary paintings.

Amend your room if the painting doesn't suit

If you bring a painting home and it clashes with its environment, first try hanging it in various rooms on different walls.

Hang correctly

As a rule, paintings should be hung so that the centre of the painting is at eye level.  Rules should be considered guidelines only, however, so feel free to experiment.

Make the painting the room's centre of attraction

Play down the other design elements such as window coverings, carpeting, wall coverings, and even furniture. A room crowded with other colours, textures, and objects will take the spotlight away from the art.

Experiment to learn what pleases you and what doesn't

Selecting and displaying art is an art in itself. You will be well-rewarded for the time you invest by finding more satisfaction both in the art and in your home.

(Source: WikiHow)


Trish Clark Gallery

Trish Clark Gallery opened its central Auckland location at 1 Bowen Avenue in April 2014, marking 30 years since owner Trish Clark opened her original gallery in Auckland’s High Street.

Initially representing twenty artists, many of whom are senior figures in New Zealand art, Trish Clark Gallery also introduces a number of renowned international artists to the Australasian region, and will complement works by gallery artists with curated guest artists/artworks in a programme of innovative exhibitions across a variety of media.

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