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For some, a home without art is like a day without food or a day without sunshine. A necessity of life that nourishes and provides a perspective that can be both surprising and engaging. Art takes your home away from the nuts of bolts of living and adds another dimension. A home with art is unquestionably more interesting and attractive than one without. Art has us feel.

The word ‘art’ has been used since the 12th century and originally meant ‘skill’. It was widely applied to everything from medicine to maths but these days it’s most widely applied to painting, drawing, sculpture and photography.

You don’t need a detailed knowledge of art history or theory to enjoy it or develop an understanding of it. The Gallery of NSW website (www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au) is a great resource. The ‘discover art’ section outlines a number of useful questions to get you started including; what attracted you to the artwork? Does it hold your interest? How does it make you feel? Does it remind you of anything? Answers to these questions and others are a great entry point to appreciating art and provide a framework in which to consider a purchase.

Almost any unadorned wall is fair game for the display of artwork as long as the scale and style are appropriate. Areas such as an entrance, the end of a hallway, and above a fireplace are good starting points yet a more discerning criteria looks at line of vision and where artwork will create the biggest impact. The most common mistake people make is displaying artwork that is much too small for the area or hung too high. Properly displayed, a piece of art will create a focal point. Most galleries hang the centre of artwork at eye level and this is a great rule of thumb, adjusting it for the those in the house.

Our local galleries are a wonderful source of inspiration and quickly dispel the notion that the art world is elitist. Handmark Gallery, Bett Gallery, Art Mob, The Salamanca Collection and Despard Gallery are delightfully low key yet filled with enticing works at varying prices. Don’t be afraid to ask the gallery to see an artwork in situ before you buy; this way you will be sure if its right and if its not, the gallery can assist in selecting the perfect piece, having seen the space. Local galleries also support the Collect program, which facilitates an interest free loan for local product over 12 months.

On a job I worked on many years ago I was captivated by the drama of a large Geoff Dyer artwork in the entry foyer. I can still remember the sense of awe I felt. It was a strong painting and it worked incredibly well as an entry piece. I still love the drama of heavy oil paintings and I have a large Chen Ping in my own living room, which regularly undergoes interrogation from visitors. I’ve also seen lighter works such as Junko Go, Mandy Renard and Barbie Kjar work beautifully in living areas and in a study I’m drawn to Tom Samek’s cleverness and humour. I hanker after many of our wonderful local artists and one day I’ll fulfil my dream of owning a Philip Wolfhagen and a David Keeling, both of which I’ll hang somewhere prominent so I can enjoy their complexity, beauty and intrigue for as long as possible.

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