From oil paintings and stretched canvasses to antique clocks and plates on the wall – art offers a myriad ways to personalise your home.
‘Art in the home is as important as books on a shelf; it develops a visual literacy and soothes the eye,’ says David Krut from David Krut Publishing and Arts Resource. ‘If you are unsure about what to buy, stand in front of the artwork; if it communicates something to you, ask yourself whether it is the colours, the image or the concept you like. Make an effort to understand the rationale behind the artwork, and what is driving the artist to create it.’
A necessary expense – or an investment?
The secret is to purchase an artwork early in a young artist’s career for a few thousand rand and then hang on to it for many years. But art enthusiasts agree that buying art purely for the sake of investment isn’t sensible. You need to like what you are buying as you need to take responsibility for the piece.
When buying a photograph, the print should be signed and preferably be part of a limited edition numbered series. If you are looking at etchings, look for the indentation lines created by the plate as the paper passes through the machine – they should be visible running along two sides of the paper. Etchings should always be signed and should be part of a limited series, which usually consists of about 300 copies.
Art museums are also great places to pick up a wealth of information and learn about trends. Once you have your ideas firmly in place, you can visit a reputable gallery and start the process of finding your dream piece. ‘Seek good advice from knowledgeable people before you make a purchase,’ says Shaun Maloney, a practising artist and owner of the Art Café Gallery in Milnerton, Cape Town. Original art doesn’t have to be exorbitant, so buy the original wherever possible.
The right light
Keep lighting in mind when hanging artworks. ‘Natural light often works best for paintings and photographs,’ advises Suzette Bell-Roberts, gallery director for the Bell-Roberts contemporary art gallery in Cape Town. Downlighters, tracklights or spotlights (in yellow) are ideal for paintings. For photographs, cool, blue lighting works best.
Hang it well
When you hang an artwork, it is important not to fill up the entire wall space, as there should be ‘breathing’ space around a piece. Hang paintings about 1.56m from its centre point to the floor. If you like grouping artworks, approach it as a theme, so as to avoid it appearing too busy. If you are unsure, use the services of a professional art hanger.
The right frame
A frame should complement, not overwhelm, an artwork. The style of the painting or photograph, as well as the period it dates from, should be a good starting point. A frame is about the presentation and protection of the artwork and a good framer will make sure this is accomplished.