Art: What to do when the walls in your home are a blank canvas

The art in this Parnell home was curated by Jeannette Volykhina of Art Salon.
ARTSALON.CO.NZ

The art in this Parnell home was curated by Jeannette Volykhina of Art Salon.

For many of us, great art is something we admire in a gallery, or on someone else's walls.

But there's no reason why we can't enjoy collecting and displaying our own art collections. Sometimes all that's needed is a little confidence.

Art collectors everywhere will always tell you to buy what you love – after all you have to live with it. But where do you start when you are looking for something for your own home?

Art adorns the walls of Carolyn Hughes and Sandi O'Brien's home (left); and Bridget Foley's home (right).
JANE USSHER

Art adorns the walls of Carolyn Hughes and Sandi O'Brien's home (left); and Bridget Foley's home (right).

Wellington interior designer Bridget Foley loves art with a passion and has a house full of local and international artworks. She says local galleries are a good place to start, along with galleries in other towns you may be visiting.

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"There's no need to be afraid of galleries – they don't bite back and in my experience they are all really nice people. Getting on a gallery mailing list is also worthwhile. They will keep you posted, literally."

Artworks abound in Wellington interior designer Bridget Foley's home.
JANE USSHER

Artworks abound in Wellington interior designer Bridget Foley's home.

Foley says one Queenstown gallery sent her an image of a Joanna Braithwaite painting, knowing she loved the artist.

"It's just a small painting, but I love it – I paid it off over six months as a present to myself when I had the baby."

Art fairs, including school fundraisers are other good sources of original art. And there are always the art school end-of-year exhibitions, which is where the dealers find emerging talent.

These rooms feature art curated by Jeannette Volykhina of Art Salon.
ARTSALON.CO.NZ

These rooms feature art curated by Jeannette Volykhina of Art Salon.

Art Salon art consultant Jeannette Volykhina, wife of artist Ilya Volykhine, says graduate student shows offer a great opportunity to see the "art of tomorrow". She says she enjoys following the trajectory of an emerging artist. 

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"But when you buy what you love, the investment angle doesn't really doesn't really matter."

Volykhina has been collecting art since she bought her first work in New York when she was just 17. "I haven't stopped since," she says. "And I often tell my clients to give up the present of the sweater or the tie, and get your partner something they can look at every day. Art is the most beautiful gift."

Foley says many of her "finds" have been in unexpected places. "One of my favourite pieces is a Japanese geisha painting, which I found in the dusty old antique shop in a dark alley in Rome."

For some people, art just "happens".

Art lovers Carolyn Hughes and Sandie O'Brien say they don't go out hunting for art. Rather, art finds them. "What you see (in our house) is what we like," says Hughes. "We probably have more paintings than wall space, but we do move them around a bit."

A favourite piece is Katherine the Wobbly Girl, a steel spring sculpture by renowned French artist Vincent Magni. "We found her in Paris and couldn't leave her behind," says Hughes.

Belonging to an art group is a way many people acquire a share of some good artworks. Foley says she belongs to a group of 12, who each contribute a small amount each month to a special account.

"Once every three or so months three of us take a turn to spend $2000 on an art work. We then take turns at having the artworks in our home. Every three months we swap around. It's a great way to appreciate art that you might not necessarily have chosen yourself. And we often have an artist come and talk to us as a group."

KEY POINTS

And when you do find pieces you love, there are some key points to remember, says Volykhina.

1. Hang your art at the median eye level for yourself and your partner if there are two of you in the house. That line becomes the art "horizon" for the whole house.

2. Don't be afraid to break rule number 1 if you have a wall that needs special treatment, such as a double-height atrium.

3. Rather than putting one painting in every room, try bringing them all together in a group on a single wall. There's an instant wow factor right there.

 

 

 

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 - Stuff

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