Inside Out (Australia)
An art expert’s tips for top presentation
How you display a work of art can be as important as the piece itself, argues art curator, author and ceramics expert Amber Creswell Bell, who takes us through the ins and outs of creating and curating joyful art-filled spaces you’ll love for life
Don’t fall into the trap of buying lots of small bitsy pieces to play it safe! Be brave and go for a large statement piece, and use this anywhere you might otherwise display a big vase of flowers; think dining table, kitchen island, mantelpiece or console. If you are displaying smaller pieces together in groups, remember the ‘law of three’, where things always look better in threes or odd numbers. Keep a variation in height to create visual interest and dialogue between the pieces.
PREVIOUS PAGES (artworks from left) Ode painting by Justin Maurice Scivetti, $480 (framed), Saint Cloche. Roquebrune Sur Argens #2 painting by James King (on top shelf), $1650 (framed), Becker Minty. Blue Slip painting, $450 (framed), Cat Yenn. (Top shelf from left) Clarity sculpture by Holly Ryan, $2800, Jerico Contemporary. Asahi So ‘Faceted’ stoneware bottle, $120, Saint Cloche. Impression II sculpture by Hana Vasak, $280, Michael Reid Clay. Ornamental Mobile No.3 mobile by Odette Ireland, $1250, Curatorial+Co. (Middle shelf from left) TTM Vessel sculpture by Humble Matter, $1150, Curatorial+Co. Small Bird jug sculpture by Pip Woods (as before). Digital Organic Mineral IV sculpture by Stephen Ormandy, $2750, Olsen Gallery. Noidoi Design Studio ‘Kapp’ triple candleholder, $210, Mette Collections. (Bottom shelf from left) Apolune green sculpture by Stephanie Phillips, $595, The DEA Store. White Raku & Gold Link vessel, $390, Jardan. Ceramic Mini Horse sculpture by Athena Jahantigh, $325, Becker Minty. Meret 2 sculpture by Elise Cameron-Smith, $240, Saint Cloche. Otto side table, $450, Clo Studios. Determined #2 sculpture (on side table), $420, Sophie Ceramics. Hegi Design House ‘Coulee’ day bed (with cushion), $6500, Smithmade. Flowers (throughout), Bess Paddington. Books and magazines, stylist’s own. ABOVE If There’s No God Then It’s A Better Mystery painting by Bridgette McNab, $990 (framed), Saint Cloche. Otis side table, $1970, Jardan. (On table from left) 101 Copenhagen ‘The Sphere Bubl’ sculpture, $80, Mette Collections. Perfect Match #1 sculpture, $520, Sophie Ceramics. Tessellate No.8 sculpture by Natalie Rosin (in front), $300, Curatorial+Co. Meret 2 sculpture by Elise Cameron-Smith (as before). Ungentarium ‘Tears’ Vessel II sculpture by Hana Vasak, $220, Michael Reid Clay. OPPOSITE Sicilian Olive print by Lucinda Jones, $1100 (framed), Smithmade. (On table from left) Charcoal Stripes linen napkins, $39.95 for four, I Love Linen. Raami tumblers in Moss Green, $34.95 for two, Iittala. 101 Copenhagen ‘The Sphere Bubl’ sculpture (as before). Raami tumbler, $34.95 for two, and Kastehelmi cake stand, $109, both Iittala. Clae Studio ‘Column’ vessel, $180, Clo Studios. HK Living chartreuse glass, $14.95, vase in Matt White, $99, and Athena Ceramics octagonal dinner plate, $24.95, all House Of Orange. Small Bird jug sculpture by Pip Woods, $220, Michael Reid Clay. French linen tablecloth in Inky Charcoal, $150, I Love Linen. Ivana Taylor ‘Beau’ stool, $1800, Sally Dan Cuthbert. PP Mobler ‘PP68’ dining chairs, $2200 each, Great Dane. Bud rattan pendant light, $250, Clo Studios.
Artwork is mood-inducing, so make sure you match the mood to the space you are displaying it in, especially if it is the hero of the room. Bedrooms should soothe and relax; living spaces need to feel lively and happy; and dining rooms host your guests, so choose something that could inspire conversation or throw a sophisticated vibe.
Salon-style French hang
This gallery-inspired hanging style has its origins in 17th-century Paris, where graduates of The Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture would exhibit their final works in the Salon Carré or ‘square room’ of the Louvre, their pieces adorning every square inch of the room’s hallowed walls.
HOW-TO: The rules may be fluid, but there are a few things to decide before embarking on a French salon hang
Come together Do you want your artworks united by a similar frame style, or a more casual, miscellaneous effect? There is no right or wrong here – both look beautiful for different reasons. But if you do commit to one style, such as uniform black or uniform oak, you’ll need to consider what this might mean for artworks purchased down the track that are potentially framed differently, and whether you’re prepared to reframe. Will this cohesive frame style hamper your growing collection in the future?
Cohesive couplings Salon hangs are often an ever-evolving work in progress, but the first three to five pieces will set the tone, so start as you mean to go on. Try to link each of the artworks subtly, with something like a common hint of colour that runs through each of the works.
Different strokes If you are going for more of an eclectic hang, consider including paintings on canvas, photography, drawings on paper and even ceramic plates to give it a sense of diversity and curiosity in the change of pace and texture.
Test the waters If you’ve already amassed works with a salon hang in mind but are unsure where to start, try laying them out on the floor in the configuration you intend for the wall. This will allow you to move things around until it feels harmonious to the eye. Alternatively, you might like to trace each of the works onto card and affix them to the wall using Blu Tack, moving them around until the placement feels just right.
Stay focused Start by choosing a central piece to anchor the overall formation, which could be a larger or more impactful work. This is your starting point, from which you will map out where all the other artworks are to go.
Considered collection Getting the final look ‘right’ will likely be the result of nailing the balance, and that means being attentive to aspects such as proportion, orientation and space. Step away for a minute and come back with fresh eyes to make sure those elements are evenly spread. Sometimes taking a photo and referring to it will help identify any problem areas.
THIS PAGE Saludo A La Lux Y Oscuridad (Greeting From Light And Darkness) painting by Daniel Baretto $1200 (unframed, top row, second from right), Saint Cloche. Kiama Nasturtium No.1 painting, $500 (framed, top row, far right), Scott Owen. Wind print by Tym Yee, $280 (framed, middle row, far right), Palette By Jono Fleming. Our Little Hideaway I painting by Chloe Caday, $850 (framed, above armchair), Curatorial+Co. Epiphyllum Oxypetalum, Queen Of The Night painting, $580 (framed, behind armchair), Rosy Lloyd. Foucher Poignant print, $875 (framed, behind stool), Becker Minty. All other art and products (as before). OPPOSITE (clockwise from top left) Talus 2 chromogenic print by Izabela Pluta, $3800 (framed), Sally Dan Cuthbert. Beacon Ave painting by Kate Broadfoot, $560 (unframed), Michael Reid. Ode painting by Justin Maurice Scivetti, $480 (framed), Saint Cloche. Hawker I painting by Fiona Andrews-Kostidis, $880 (framed), Michael Reid. Still Life With Pumpkin print by Rachel Stevens, $260 (framed), Palette By Jono Fleming. Kiama Nasturtium No.2 painting, $450 (framed), Scott Owen. Where You Belong painting, $2000, Claudia Miranda. Nightshade/Sol painting by Heath Newman, $990 (framed), Saint Cloche. Wander print by Kate Jarman, $265 (unframed), Greenhouse Interiors. Little Bravo painting, $750 (framed), Nicki Nelius. Half Full painting, $480 (framed), Rosy Lloyd. Ivana Taylor ‘Beau’ stool, $1800, Sally Dan Cuthbert. Ziggy armchair, $3310, and Bowie cushion, $200, both Jardan. Books, stylist’s own.
Untitled, Cellito Beach; River Swimmers, Brunswick Heads; and Great Dane, Manly Beach photographic prints by Julie Adams, $1800 each (framed), Smithmade. Arc bouclé queen bedhead in Ivory, $1299, McMullin & Co. Natural Stripe linen queen quilt cover and two pillowcases, $399.90 ($330 for quilt cover only), with white linen pillowcases, $34.95 each, all I Love Linen. Bowie cushion in Sage, $200, Jardan. Muuto ‘Halves’ side tables, $605 each, Luumo Design. Nelly table lamps in Olive, $819 each, Jardan. (On left side table) Raami tumbler in Clear, $34.95 for two, Iittala. 101 Copenhagen ‘The Sphere Bubl’ sculpture, $80, Mette Collections. Tessellate No.8 sculpture by Natalie Rosin, $300, Curatorial+Co. (On right side table) Dusky Vessel II sculpture by Chrystie Longworth, POA, Michael Reid Clay. Background is Eggshell paint in Old Stone Wall (top) and Yacht Race (bottom), both $130 per 4L, Porter’s Paints.
Repeat after me
The power of rhythm and repetition is a great dramatic device when showcasing artworks. Displaying large works of the same size and orientation in a row always packs a punch, but does require some precision. Measure twice and hammer once, making sure your hooks align and the spacing between works is even. The eye will be drawn to any asymmetry and this will break the feeling of harmony, so take your time.
HOW-TO: general hanging
There is more than one way to hang a picture, with myriad options such as nails, hooks, screws and removeable adhesive strips. But you do need to keep your wall type in mind (such as plasterboard, brick or timber) and purchase your tools accordingly.
Small or light options can be simply hung with a picture hook or screw.
For heavy or large pieces or works under glass, consider using two hooks or screws for each piece, which will help equally distribute the weight and keep it secure.
When dealing with extra-large or heavy pieces, it’s often advisable to use screws with wall anchors or plugs to be safe.
Removeable adhesive hooks and Velcro strips are a great option if you are nervous about committing to a hole, or you are renting. They can hold up to approximately 7kg in combinations, so read the directions on the packaging first.
Once you have worked out your layout, pinpoint the position of each hook by measuring the distance between the hanging wire on the back of the painting and the top of the frame. Hold the painting to the wall and mark the top of the frame on the wall with erasable pencil. Your hook will need to go below this as per the measurement.
Always use a spirit level to straighten everything when you are finished to ensure a visually pleasing, unified aesthetic.