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Art can be an intimidating business. It shouldn’t be because the purpose of art is primarily about pure delight for the eyes of the beholder but I do understand the home lovers’ dilemma when it comes to what to hang on your walls. In the back of most people’s minds, and I include in this even the most confident of us, is ‘what are other people going to make of the pictures on my walls?’. I’m not going to tackle the enormous subject of how to select your art here (although I am gearing up to this topic so watch this space) but what I am going to talk about now is the incredibly good news which is that, and I really mean this, how you present and hang your art is almost, indeed dare I say as important, as the art you choose.

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These lovely simple botanical drawings make a huge impact hung in a group and against the backdrop of Fired Earth’s delicious South Bank paint colour. The clever addition of the bench and cushions picks up the colours in the paintings and visually anchors the artwork.

 

When I hang art for clients, which is a task I love because it makes such a difference to how an interior looks, the first thing I ask them to do is to get all the art they have out (and this should incorporate everything – original paintings of worth or not, prints, framed posters, family pictures, sculpture, home-made craft projects and so on) so that we can look at it and discuss what they actually like and what they are less keen on but may have a good reason (or not) for keeping. In this exercise I am primarily interested in noting what their most loved pieces are which should be displayed in key areas (master bedroom, entrance hall, main living room – wherever a household spends time) and what is less loved but can find a home in a lesser used area of a house (cloakroom, guest bedroom, back entrance hall). Once we have had this frank conversation, which is not always easy, I then start to think about where to place artwork in the home.

It helps to bear in mind that artwork does not have to match an interior scheme, in fact I like a picture to bring something different and eye-catching to the look of a room, but it does have to look comfortable in the space, not overpowering everything else or being overwhelmed itself.

I often feel rather shame faced when I visit the fabulous Fitzwilliam Museum because I tend to head for the first floor galleries which I love and as I try hard to concentrate on the artwork I find my mind pondering exactly what colour the wall behind the great masterpiece is and examining the way the lighting has been achieved. I know I am supposed to be looking at the artwork, but actually it is the whole experience of those rooms that makes me love the galleries and whilst the rooms are certainly not pretending to be domestic interiors, I find the combination of the artwork with the rich background colours, the dark wood flooring, the lighting and the occasional pieces of furniture is what makes me very happy. The moral of the story is that an interior is a collage of many elements and if you get the balance right, the effect is glorious; out of balance and beautiful things suddenly can’t come to life in the way that you want them to.

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Putting a treasured painting in a master bedroom ensures it is regularly seen and enjoyed.

When you have got an idea of where you want your pictures to live, the art of hanging them well starts with checking the space around the piece – they need enough space to be seen and to shine on their own merit but also some reference to other furnishings or pictures. For example, a piece of furniture under a picture usually helps to visually anchor the artwork – you need to leave enough space between the furniture and the picture to allow some accessories on the surface, the picture should not hang so low that accessories obscure the picture and not so high that it is hanging in mid-air with no reference to the things below it at all. The best way to hang pictures is to get someone (one or more people depending on the size of the work) to hold the picture in place and then get them to go higher, lower, right a bit, left a bit until you find the place that the picture looks comfortable and hopefully before the holder’s arms start shaking and a row beings to brew. I generally find that pictures are hung too high – go as low as you dare and try to remember that being able to see the painting comfortably, even when you are sitting down, is also an important part of the exercise.

I cannot emphasise how important framing is and this decision includes whether to frame or not, as certainly not all artwork needs framing. Spend time, effort and money (as necessary) on making the absolute best of your artworks by considering how best to present them. A clever framer is a very good friend of the interior designer and I always make sure that I ask the advice of my framer as a starting point, who will generally consider the right approach to make the best of the picture, but then I may add an opinion on the look that we are creating in the interior. We tend to agree somewhere between the two which should ensure that the final approach adds to both the artwork and the interior.

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This very favourite painting is displayed in full view in a well used space

Moving pictures around is a surprisingly effective way of giving your home a bit of an update. I would like to say that I do this regularly but realistically it only really happens when I buy a new picture and move current ones around to accommodate it, but I am always surprised at the impact that a picture’s surroundings has on how the artwork itself is perceived. I recently acquired a lovely bright yellow velvet occasional chair which has found a very happy home in the corner of my bedroom. Interestingly three people who visit the house regularly asked, on completely separate occasions, whether the picture above it was new. In fact the picture has been there for quite a while and features quite a strong dash of yellow and I can only assume that the new chair combined with the painting draws the eye to the corner of the room more than before. Whatever it was, it is interesting that even a small change around can suddenly bring artwork, and it surroundings, to life.

Much as I love to see beautiful photography in an interior, which should be hung with the same consideration and principles as your other artwork, I also like to see personal photographs in a home as they so instantly individualise a space. These will probably not be the beautiful specimens that the great photographers produce and so need to be handled accordingly. Groups of photos (either in standing frames or wall hung) can be a good way to display images of family, holiday or a general hotchpotch of memories and should be thought of as an explosion of emotion, rather than a focus on one particular shot. A group of photos can also be added to and changed as life moves forward, which keeps your display up to date. Don’t feel you have to include every image, or record every event, or heaven forbid, have a photo of every family member (although you may have to swap pictures in on critical occasions so as not to cause a family dispute) – personal photos in your home are not an absolute record of your life, but an accessory that should lift your heart when you glance at them.

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This delightful tiny artwork is given a great presence by using a large mount with a simple frame and
being hung on a dark painted wall

Lighting is crucial for artwork (indeed for interiors generally and is a huge topic in itself). Think about what light you need for your artwork in daylight (which might still include artificial lighting) and what you need at night. You don’t have to only consider the traditional picture light – a light from the ceiling or a floor-standing uplighter can work really well too. Just as lighting art well is important for enjoying the work, shielding it from the sunlight is important for preservation purposes and should also be considered carefully.

Finally, I wish to joyfully dismiss the idea that you can’t hang pictures on wallpaper. You can and you should. Wallpaper is a splendid backdrop to your pictures, you will just need to be careful that the wallpaper doesn’t overpower the art either in terms of colour or pattern or both, it should be a backdrop so ensure that your art, not your wallpaper, is the star.

I have realised whilst I have been writing this piece that there really are a multitude of considerations when hanging artwork so what I say to you is don’t be overwhelmed by the task – get your picture hooks and hammer out and have a go. Unless you are wildly wrong, in which case you will have to get a pot of paint out, the new position for the picture will cover the first (and subsequent) hanging attempts and if you live with your efforts for a few days, you will soon know whether you got it right or not. I have rarely seen an interior that doesn’t benefit from having artwork on the walls so be brave and get those pictures hung.

This post appeared in the July edition of Cambridge Magazine

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With the Easter weekend nearly upon us, we just could help but bring you one or two bunny related home accessories. We’ve majored on items we like rather than keeping strictly to bunnies, so please forgive the inclusion of the odd hare or two. Wishing you a lovely Easter break, from all of us at Angel and Blume.

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Knitted bunny rabbit tea cosy from Nervous Stitch at Not on the High Street

Rockett St George ceramic bunny £60

Ceramic bunny table lamp with light up LED tail from Rockett St George

 

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Baby bunny tea towel from Father Rabbit – this fabulous company is based in New Zealand but will ship to the UK, so it makes economic sense to order lots of things at the same time 🙂

 

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Hilarious rabbit screen prints from HAM – impossible to choose which to show you as they all made me smile

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Lovely second hand rabbit jelly moulds from Re-Found

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Beautiful Harvest Hare fabric from Mark Hearld available at St Judes Fabrics

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Loads of gorgeous things to buy featuring the Rabbit and Cabbage design on from Thornback and Peel – and 15% off rabbit accessories right now!

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We are thrilled to announce that Joa Studholme, International Colour Consultant for Farrow and Ball, is coming to Cambridge to give a talk on Using Colour in your Home. Joa is an engaging and inspiring speaker and her talk will not only get you thinking about your home but will also get you painting your walls (and ceilings, floors and furniture!). The talk will be held at the fantastic Lynne Strover Gallery in Fen Ditton, one of the leading Contemporary Art Galleries in the UK, which is not only a wonderful setting for the talk but also provides the opportunity to see the current exhibition . The talk is on Tuesday March 25th at 6pm and I would advise booking early as tickets are going fast! £28 available from Angel and Blume or the Lynne Strover Gallery.

Lynne Strover Gallery

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I am in love with artist Emily Robertson’s wonderful illustrations. Most, if not all her work is about lifestyle, having been commissioned to illustrate for names in fashion, travel, food and interiors. She recently did some editorial illustrations for Italian furniture company Molteni & C,  and her attentive illustrations offer a charming window into their fantastic interior design concepts. The following examples include initial un-used solutions as well as final work. They are a joy to look at. 

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I have to admit that until recently I had a rather narrow minded view of decoupage and collage, putting it down as a bit unsophisticated. However, the recent work of a variety of artists has definitely proved me wrong about this, and exemplified how collage is a technique that can produce very beautiful design. I have brought together some examples of the work that have given me this renewed high regard for collage, a craft that Matisse once so elegantly called ‘Painting with Scissors’.

Petra Borner

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Much of Petra Borner’s work is originally made by cutting and layering paper. Her versatile technique allows her to create beautiful and bold compositions. Her designs are then used for prints, fabrics and book illustrations. She has many examples of these cut out paper designs online, some of which are available to purchase.

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Borner designed the cover for Jayne Austin’s Emma, published by Bonnier.

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Petra Borner, Autumn Red Print. £225.00.

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Petra Borner, Play 1 Print. £120.00.

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Petra Borner, Winter Green Print. £225.00.

John Derian

John Derian has a charming collection of decoupage work. For his designs, Derian takes from his own vast collection of antique and vintage prints, and artisans then cut and collage onto hand blown glass using these designs. As a result many of the items have a wonderfully historic and bespoke feel.

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John Derian, Ladyhill Round Plate, Special Edition at the Conran shop. £45.

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John Derian, Green Apple Glass Dome Paperweight at Liberty. £59.95.

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John Derian, British Seaweeds Red at Pentreath & Hall. £45.

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John Derian, Elephant Tiny Glass Tray at Liberty. £45.00.

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John Derian, Butterflies Rectangular Glass Tray at Liberty. £79.95.

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John Derian, Baines Florist Mini Tray – Special Edition at the Conran Shop. £55.

Let’s hope that artists keep painting with scissors!

This blog first appeared in the Cambridge Evening News website.

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We have recently launched our new series of interior design talks for 2014 including a new course on how to accessorise your home. Starting on the 4th February 2014, the course will cover what accessories will work for your home, where to find them and how to know what to put where. There will also be hints, tips and insider secrets on all accessories including furnishings, storage, light fittings, rugs, curtains and blinds, cushions, flowers and plants, tableware, bedlinen, pictures, collections, accessories for children’s’ rooms and how to accessorise your kitchen and bathroom. Places are going fast so go to www.interiordesigntalks.com for more information or to sign-up.

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All images are taken from Secrets of a Stylish Home by Cate Burren and Simon Whitmore. With thanks to Simon Whitmore photography for the use of images.

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As a true East Anglia fan, I am ashamed to say that until last week, I had only fleetingly visited the Suffolk coast and I am delighted to report that I not only had a wonderful week in this beautiful county but I also uncovered some new treasures on the interiors front, and visited some old favourites.

My first find was Smoke and Fire in Darsham who make the most beautiful and creative tiles. Their decorative tiles are real works of art and I love the delicate colours of their plain tiles. I would highly recommend a visit to their showroom where the tiles are also made.

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Two of my favourite lighting companies are based in Suffolk and I took the opportunity to visit both. The first is Bella Figura who have a head office and small showroom in Melton (their main showroom is in Chelsea Harbour) where they make their lighting, using glass brought over from Italy. The products are gorgeous and it was amazing to see the workshop and a selection of some of the new chandeliers that will not disappoint.

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The other lighting company that I love and we have worked with for a long time is Jim Lawrence who have a fantastic showroom in Hadleigh that displays almost every product they have. They have more recently expanded into other homeware including fabrics, furniture and accessories and although it is generally their lighting that catches my eye, I couldn’t resist their new scented candle (pink pepper and green mandarin) which is delicate and delicious.

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Woodbridge is a town that is really worth a visit and I made two brilliant discoveries there – the first was 10 Church Street which is a wonderful interiors shop selling a carefully selected mix of tasteful and stylish furniture, soft furnishings and accessories. Some of their products are on their website so it is worth keeping an eye on what they have in stock www.10churchstreet.co.uk

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The second is a delightful business run by three sisters called Sant Studio which sells jewellery, textiles and home accessories. Everything in this delicious shop was tempting but the jewellery really caught my eye and they have just a few items on their website, although you really need to visit to see how lovely the stock is.

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Last but not least is the fantastic Thorpeness Emporium – we were based in Thorpeness (which is lovely) so we visited almost everyday for a browse at the antiques and a cup of delicious coffee in the cafe. They also had an exhibition of gorgeous prints by a local artist called Liz Clark and if you are modernist or retro style inclined, these might appeal. I thought they were lovely.

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I am now back and hard at work – customers of Angel and Blume will be pleased to hear – but I will be going back to the Suffolk coast as soon as I can, I am a convert!

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