LIVING

PUT YOUR PER­SON­AL­ITY ON DIS­PLAY WITH A FRENCH-HANG WALL

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - by Neale Whi­taker Neale Whi­taker is ed­i­tor-in-chief of Vogue Living.

Neale Whi­taker on the art of a tra­di­tional French-hang wall.

It’s never been so im­por­tant to be well hung or, per­haps more specif­i­cally, French hung. Pourquoi? We’re talk­ing art here, of course. The “French hang” (some­times re­ferred to as the “salon hang”) has be­come an im­por­tant trend in in­te­rior dec­o­rat­ing and one that I thor­oughly ap­prove of. Pick up any cur­rent home magazine or dec­o­rat­ing book and you’ll see walls in homes, restau­rants, ho­tels, bars, even shops, cov­ered with a seem­ingly ran­dom ar­range­ment of art. That’s the French hang, so called be­cause it originated hun­dreds of years ago in the cafes of Paris, where strug­gling artists would trade small art­works in ex­change for food and ab­sinthe. All very Moulin Rouge.

Noth­ing gives an in­te­rior greater per­son­al­ity than art, and the French hang is the most ex­pres­sive form of all. It’s a style I’ve al­ways adopted at home, but I ad­mit I’m living of ne­ces­sity in my new apart­ment with a tightly edited ver­sion of my pre­vi­ous art wall that fea­tured more than 60 wa­ter­colours, draw­ings, photos and sculp­tures. Ev­ery­thing from a much-loved David Brom­ley to In­dian masks and child­hood snaps. I love ev­ery­thing about my new place ex­cept its lack of wall space.

Stylist and au­thor Me­gan Morton’s new book It’s Beau­ti­ful Here (Thames & Hud­son, $59.95) is full of great ex­am­ples of the French hang, but it was ac­tu­ally in one of her pre­vi­ous books – Things I Love – that she of­fered suc­cinct ad­vice.

Start with at least five art­works (any less lacks sub­stance), de­cide at the out­set if you’re go­ing to theme or mix things up (like Me­gan, I opt for mix­ing ev­ery time) and hang them closely to­gether. They need to feel con­nected. I would add the im­por­tance of lay­ing out the art­works on the floor prior to hang­ing them, and choos­ing one or two that’ll be the fo­cal point of the hang. Think of them as the eyes on the face.

Mel­bourne-based David Flack is one of the most in­no­va­tive in­te­rior de­sign­ers work­ing in Australia to­day and no stranger to an art wall. “I love a French hang,” he en­thuses. “There’s some­thing un­pre­ten­tious and ef­fort­less about it. You can com­bine all medi­ums and all shapes and sizes. It takes a lit­tle bit of skill to get it right – the best way is to lay it all out on the ground first and just play. There are no rules, it’s re­ally just a bal­ance of light, shape and colour.” Happy hang­ing.

GROUP EF­FORT (clockwise from above) In­spired hangs from Dutch blog Grav­ity Home; pho­tog­ra­pher Bir­gitta Wolf­gang Dre­jer; Hal­cyon House by Anna Spiro.

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