So, you’ve visited a fair, fallen in love with the perfect piece, and got it home. But what next?
Well, we’ve put together a complete guide on how to position, display and care for your collection to make sure it remains in perfect nick for years to come.
Positioning your artwork
First things first, you need to decide where your artwork is going to take up residence in your home. Whether you’ve already got a spot in mind, or you’re weighing up the options, it’s worth giving some thought to the following …
1. Artworks don’t fare well when placed in bright sunlight. Watercolours and other works on paper are particularly prone to colour bleaching or surface degradation when placed in direct sunlight, but even hardier pigments in oils or acrylics will fade over time. Where possible, try to hang your artworks in shadier spots (or if you really can’t avoid hanging your pieces in a sunny corner, chat to a specialist framer about placing your artworks behind UV-protected glass).
2. Frequent or drastic changes in temperature can be damaging to artworks, as can high levels of humidity or damp. When selecting where to hang your new artworks, consider how the requirements of the medium match up with the room in which you’re placing it. We love the idea of having art in the bathroom, but bear in mind that works on paper or those with delicate surfaces may not fare well. Good ventilation is a must to avoid mildew and surface damage, and we’d recommend chatting to a framer about how best to protect your artworks. Likewise, in kitchens or rooms with open fires or radiators, bear in mind that strong sources of heat can cause warping or discolouration to some mediums.
3. It may sound obvious, but make sure fragile sculptures or ceramic works are displayed in secure, safe spaces out of the way of household traffic. If you have small children or lively pets, consider a display cabinet for intricate items to offer an extra level of protection and peace of mind.
4. Think about how the subject of the artwork interacts with the function of the room you’re placing it in. Relaxing, homely scenes can work well in living rooms, whereas dressing rooms are a great place to experiment with quirkier, more challenging works. Interior designer April Russell has some great tips for using artwork to enhance spaces in your home.
5. Finally, don’t hide your favourite artworks away – give them pride of place so you can see and enjoy them every day!
Putting up your artwork
Now that you’ve earmarked the perfect spot for your new artwork, it’s time to dust off the tool box and get it up on the wall …
1. Examine the fixing on the back of the artwork to determine the best way to attach it to the wall. Most framed pieces will have a picture wire secured to the back, whereas paintings on box canvases may just have a cross bar to hang from. If you’re unsure about the best way to hang your piece, chat to a framer or your gallerist for some suggestions.
2. Consider the weight of the work and the strength of the wall on which it will be hung. Most moderately sized pieces can be hung from two nails or screws, or a traditional picture hook, however particularly large or heavy works (or pieces going on to particularly weak or crumbly walls) may need more substantial fixings. Again, it’s better to be safe than sorry – chat to your framer if you’re unsure, or for particularly tricky pieces consider hiring a handyman to assist you.
3. When it comes to the height at which to hang your works, the general rule is that the artwork should sit so that the centre of the piece is at average eye level. And, if you’re planning on putting a piece above furniture, the perfect place is thought to be where there is twice as much space above the piece than below. However, when it comes down to it, it’s your collection – rules are there to be broken, so hang it at whatever height makes you happiest!
4. If you’re hanging a collection of artworks together, or tackling the task alone, try drawing out the shape of your pieces on paper and using these to decide whereabouts to place them on the wall. Once you’ve modelled the hang with your paper shapes, it’s just a matter of fixing the pieces to the wall.
5. If you’re living in a rented property and aren’t allowed to hang paintings directly on the wall, consider alternative ways of displaying your collection. Large paintings can be leaned against walls, and smaller pieces can look great arranged on shelves or surfaces with a collection of quirky books or objects.
Caring for your artwork
Once your artwork is safely up on the wall the hard work is over. You can sit back and admire it to your heart’s content. But just to be sure, there are a couple of simple things you do to ensure it looks its best for years to come.
1. Dust your artworks regularly. For framed works or pieces with hardier surfaces use a dry, soft white cloth and for paintings with heavy texture or fragile surfaces a soft white brush is better (a new, unused make up brush would do the trick).
2. Never use chemical cleaning products or water to clean your artworks. If your collection needs more thorough cleaning, it’s best to book an appointment with a specialist to avoid causing any damage which can be hard, or even impossible, to reverse.
3. Check your artworks for signs of damp periodically. These signs – discolouration and distinctive brown marks (sometimes called foxing) – are most likely to appear on the back of artworks initially, so it’s a good idea to remove pieces from the wall a couple of times a year to check everything is still shipshape!
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