I’m no art expert (and certainly no artist) but spending more time at home helped me realise the delight I find in the art collection that adorns my walls.
I use the term “collection” loosely as there was never any grand plan behind my selections. Nor was there any lavish expense.
If your walls need a lift, here are some ideas to get you started.
The Affordable Art Fair was launched in Melbourne in 2019. Held at the Royal Exhibition Building, it showcases thousands of quality works from emerging and established artists and while this year’s event was COVID-cancelled, it is set to return in 2021.
When I visited, I found being immersed with hundreds of artworks was both an efficient way to shop, and inspiring. Being able to speak with the artist – in my case, Erika Beck – helped me feel connected with the piece that I chose to take home.
With COVID-related travel restrictions still in place, online shopping is ideal. Freddy Grant, who works at Australia’s largest online art gallery Bluethumb, says many people find online browsing more relaxing.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the time, the artwork looks even better in real life – the colours pop,” says Grant. “But, for that other 1 per cent of the time, we offer free shipping and returns, meaning that you can essentially try before you buy.”
One of my favourite artworks is a large framed photo of my family’s hands placed on top of each other.
This image was taken professionally a decade ago but, these days, photos snapped on our phones have the potential to be turned into works of art.
“Photos are a great way to stay connected through this strange year, so now is the time to get them off your phone and onto your walls,” says Darla DeMorrow, a professional photo organiser at HeartWork Organising, who offers an online course for those needing help to get their photo collections under control.
“If your photo isn’t large enough to achieve a focal point on its own, gather several pieces together, maybe grouped by colour, size or theme. Polished or eclectic, the choice is yours.”
To avoid any wonky photos, prints or frames, Grant recommends using the level tool on your phone – it’s like a spirit level but without the liquid.
I’m better with a keyboard than a brush so my occasional attempt at a watercolour artwork is more suitable for the fridge than our walls. At my house, it’s kids’ artwork that shines.
We’ve moved past the Blu-Tacked kinder paintings that used to cover any spare wall or door but each year my kids’ primary school selects each child’s best artwork, frames it and charges parents $10. I don’t know what criteria the teachers use to pick the artwork but they’ve done a great job as the works totally fit our home’s colourful and eclectic vibe.
Art doesn’t have to be expensive to be enjoyed. When shopping for furniture at a chain store after moving interstate, I sheepishly admitted to my husband that I really liked one of the stock artworks they had for sale.
He confessed that it was a case of great minds thinking alike.
At $70, our piece was a bargain, and five years later it’s still in our lounge room and we still love it. As Grant says: “I’m a big believer that you should only let things you adore through the front door.”
When my parents moved out of my childhood home, there was a heap of nostalgic items to sift through.
I will be forever grateful to my sister for rescuing a 1970s pop-art style cardboard artwork from the skip. I loved it when I was a child and, while it’s starting to show its age, I love it now.
“Nostalgia in art connects us to our past and our stories,” says Peta Pathak-Perks of bespoke Melbourne-based art consultancy The Art Collective. “I have a painting that reminds me of my son when he was young and every time I look at it, I am reminded of the joy he gives me.”
A huge framed poster from the 1999 Tropfest Short Film Festival (Chopsticks theme for anyone playing along at home) is the focal point of my home office. As a souvenir from the event (I was lucky enough to be a guest judge), the poster is both a reminder of a fabulous night and an artwork in its own right.