Today, newspapers, magazine articles, and the internet are crammed full of tips and suggestions on how we can all be more economical, sustainable and environmentally conscious. From growing our own vegetables to up-cycling old furniture or unearthing treasures in our local charity shops, we’re all increasingly striving for a kinder, greener way of living.
Likewise, the art world is no stranger to the S-word. Whether it's artists inspired by recycled materials, galleries supporting their local artistic community or framers using sustainably sourced materials, there’s a whole host of ways that the arty eco-system is attempting to be kinder to the environment. This prompts a question: as art lovers, how can we introduce these ideas and concepts into our own collecting habits?
With increasing numbers of environmentally-conscious people thinking about decorating ideas for green living and their interiors, we’ve compiled a list of suggestions so art lovers can continue to invest in art in a sustainable, creative and personal way. Thinking more mindfully about the longevity of an artwork before you buy - and choosing work which speaks to your own values rather than current trends - means that in the long run, you will stay connected with your collection and it will represent you. Read on for some of our sustainable tips and let us know if you have any eco-friendly art collecting habits of your own.
How to create a sustainable home with original art
Invest in timeless pieces
Investing in artworks that prize timeless materials or a classic subject matter means that your work will never go out of style - so you won’t be tempted to replace it with something more ‘contemporary’ further down the line. Works such as Constanza Isaza Martínez’s monochrome photograph, titled Evolution X, appears to step out of an Old Master painting - giving it an ageless feel that will no doubt stand the test of time.
What’s more, opting for black or white works means that they’ll always match your interior, whatever your style - a change to colour scheme or sofa won’t prompt an overhaul to the art on your walls! Ngan-ting Rebecca Hon creates her intricate mixed-media pieces by drawing in black ink on a white base to creating elegant and timeless works like Pure.
Choose for LOVE
Rather than being swayed by trend-led interior décor, it’s crucial that collecting original art comes from the heart. It’s vital that you choose a work you’ve truly fallen in love with - and sometimes, the piece you’re drawn to might surprise you. Don’t be swayed by advice on the best financial investment, or the work that you feel you should buy; follow your instincts – even if it means picking a piece out of your comfort zone. You’ll appreciate a bold work for longer, as it will always remind you of being brave and taking the plunge!
With this in mind, why not invest in unusual, original or quirky pieces that you simply can’t live without - how about Frances Bloomsfield’s Temps Perdu 1, with its broad gestures towards the surrealist tradition, or the wonderfully enigmatic Shield Two from Ursula Kellett? You’ll never regret going with your gut, and regardless of style or fashion, your artwork will always hold a special place in your heart.
A big part of sustainable living is making sure that the products you purchase - whether food, clothes or homewares - are ethically and sustainably sourced. Many Affordable Art Fair artists opt for more environmentally friendly or natural materials - the most ubiquitous being wood.
We love Ferri Mcguinty’s fun and upbeat piece 1802 which merges plain wood with pops of colour. Or, how about Roger Hardy’s classic Journey or Bruno Helgen’s stunning Globe White: two beautiful ways to incorporate a more natural material into your home.
When thinking about sustainable materials, it’s also worth considering your framing choices. What materials are your frames made out of? And what was their journey to you? Having a chat with your gallery or framer about the materials and techniques used and choosing natural materials over plastic are both good ways to think more mindfully about how you present your artwork. Alternatively, invest in an unframed print and recycle an existing frame or have a hunt in your local charity shop.
Artworks that upcycle!
More than ever, we’re told that recycling isn’t enough, and we need to be reusing our used items. Thinking along these eco-friendly lines, who can resist Joanne Tinker’s extraordinary mixed media pieces? Joanne uses materials that many would view as rubbish, turning them into vibrant and unique artworks; from champagne muselet’s (those wire cages we all love to untwist) crafted into miniature chairs, or sweet wrappers shredded and woven to create colourful artworks like Rainbow Bones. By using items that would usually be thrown away, Joanne questions what it means to make art from traditional materials - and hanging one of her pieces on your wall is bound to make a bold and provocative statement!
Why not create a punchy salon hang and combine her work with other found objects from your home, making use of photographs, ceramics and sentimental keepsakes? For inspiration, keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming upcycling workshop at the Battersea Autumn 20th anniversary fair, where we’ll be giving you plenty of tips on how to upcycle creatively at home. The combination of your own, personal items with a statement artwork will bring a real sense of your personality to your gallery wall, and truly turn your house into a home.
Opt for abstract pieces
Choosing artworks with a popular message or theme can feel right in the current moment - but five or ten years later you might have a completely different taste and style. So why not opt for an abstract artwork? Their lack of representation and recognisable form means they are interpretive; alongside your evolving taste, the meaning of an abstract piece can ebb and flow over the years.
At first glance, a work such as Eden Plage Mala appears to be a still life of flowers with violet hues, but a later look might reveal strange figures in the background. Similarly, the enigmatic shapes and colours of Jon Rowland’s Dry Land 1 will create a constantly changing narrative that holds your attention. Ideally, we want your investment in an artwork to last a lifetime - so choosing an abstract piece is a fantastic way to ensure your love stands the test of time!
Far from other disposable purchases, original art is a sustainable and timeless investment as it lasts forever! Undoubtedly, art can have a key part to play in creating a beautiful, sustainable and happy home. It’s important to remember that all Affordable Art Fair galleries are working in partnership with, and support the careers of emerging and established artists - so you know that when you buy from one of our fairs, you’re not only creating a sustainable home by investing in pieces that will last a lifetime, but you are also supporting the art eco-system too!
If you’ve been inspired by these original works, why not browse our curated collection and invest in your life-long love for art.
Joanne Tinker, Champagne Chairs, 2019, £1,920, metal, original, framed, Art Agency.
Featured art from first to last:
Constanza Isaza Martinez, Evolution X, 2016, £595, photograph, limited edition, framed, Caiger Contemporary Art.
Ngan-ting Rebecca Hon, Pure, 2018, £3455, ink, original, framed, Blink Gallery.
Frances Bloomfield, Temps Perdu 1, 2018, £390, mixed-media, original, framed, Liberty Gallery.
Ursula Kellett, Shield 2, 2019, £575, mixed-media, original, Mint Art Gallery.
Ferris McGuinty, 1802, 2018, £1000, wood, original, framed, After Nyne.
Roger Hardy, Journey, 2019, £1950, wood, original, ArtDog London.
Bruno Helgen, Globe white, 2017, £1900, wood, original, Galerie Artima.
Joanne Tinker, Rainbow Bones, 2015, £3850, mixed-media, original, framed, Fflow Gallery.
Minna George, Eden Plage Mala, 2018, £4350, oil, original, Signet Contemporary Art.
Jon Rowland, Dry Land 1, 2013, £460, mixed-media, original, framed, Wychwood Art.