Ten ways to make a statement with art

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  • Livingetc looks at the top ten ways to make artwork pop

    We all have favourite images in our homes, but many – if not all – are
    put in a picture frame and tucked away on a shelf or hung
    unimaginatively on the wall. So think outside the box and use artwork in new and imaginative ways.

    1. Go large
    Why not pick out a picture to use on the wall itself, such as in this impressive floral mural? Classic scenes take on a new life when blown up to giant size and obscure details become a major conversation point – check out the spider, bottom left, for example.

    Flowers in a Vase with Shells and Insects by Balthasar van der Ast mural. From £60 per sq m, The National Gallery collection at Surface View

    2. Material matters
    Take your cue from on-trend interiors and find a piece made of metal. Sculpture has a long and illustrious history, but today’s artists can wrought copper, bronze or iron in an amazing array of styles. Julia McKenzie’s work, for instance, is based on collage and cut-outs and records what she finds in her own back yard. We bet you never thought a suburban garden could be so inspirational…

    Bronze Odonta by Julia McKenzie at Gas Gallery. Hand-drawn, foil-blocked print in bronze, £120, Culture Label

    3. Primary state
    Big blocks of primary colour never go out of fashion, so use an artwork to tie together all the palettes in your decorating scheme. This Lots of Dots design by Wayne Hemingway and his team is available on everything from lamp shades and tiles to window film, but we think it cuts a dash just as a print. Spots before your eyes never looked as pretty.

    Lots of Black and Red Dots by Hemingway Design. From £225 for a mounted print, Surface View

    4. Femme fatale
    For anyone who’s never gotten over putting pics of a rock or film star up on the wall, a pop-art photograph is a perfect way to bring the idea bang up to date. And while images of Marilyn, Debbie or Kate are ten a penny, we prefer more obscure artistes with just a soupçon of danger – cue the fabulous Jane Birkin given this hippy, trippy treatment. Je t’aime

    Jane Birkin by Joe Cruz at Gas Gallery. Photographic image with pastel details, £95, Culture Label

    5. Hang ’em high
    Okay, just occasionally, we have to display a picture in an old-style way, but why stick to a traditional frame? Here, this Japanese dragonflies painting is hung in a wall chart, an interesting variation on the theme. This technique also has the advantage of keeping the eye focused on the artwork and not on the frame. Floats like a dragonfly…


    wall chart. From £120, the V&A collection at Surface View

    6. As nature intended
    Seeing the world around us in unusual ways has always fascinated artists, especially if they can include a message to those viewing the work. Part of an ongoing project called The Fertile Forest, this photographic
    print by Hannah Collins depicts one of the myriad Amazonian plants that can be used to create medicines. As the Amazon disappears, so does our natural pharmacy… Wall art is no substitute for the real world, but it is a daily reminder.

    Magic in Nature by Hannah Collins at Whitechapel Gallery. Photographic print, £495, Culture Label

    7. Modern erotica
    Once upon a time, nearly every boy’s bedroom in the land featured a tennis player with an itch. Thankfully, today’s erotically charged images appeal to both sexes. In evidence, we present illustrator Malika Favre’s Justine et Juliette. Using the bare minimum of colour and lines, she presents an intimate portrait of love in the 21st century, whatever your inclination. Martina would be proud…

    Justine et Juliette by Malika Favre at Outline Editions. Print, £130, Culture Label

    8. Classical fever
    Then again, some of us don’t mind an original nude out on show. And if anyone has the right to flaunt it, it’s Cupid. Based on the work of 4th-century Greek sculptor Praxiteles of Athens, this antique engraving has us tugging on our wish bone. That is a wish bone he’s holding, isn’t it?

    Cupid after Praxiteles. Mounted print, £255, Surface View

    9. New Age psychedeliaAs you might have guessed by now, there’s always room in our house for a little fantasy. So, to let our imagination run riot, we’ve found a print that will leave you guessing about its meaning. Yes, it has some kind of tepee up there in the corner and the geodesic dome maybe says something about our environmental concerns, but what’s with that swirly bit in the centre? And the title’s no help, either…

    i (Dissolution of Mother Island Series) by Jess Littlewood at Bearspace. Archival giclée print, £450, Culture Label

    10. Grid system
    After the mindblowing, back to the plain – well, almost. Another work from Hemingway Design, this time a Computer Grid

    Black and Yellow. It’s simple, eye-catching and makes a great distraction for when you don’t want to work (on your computer, natch). That’s what art should be – something that takes us away from the everyday, if only for a moment.

    Computer Grid Black and Yellow by Hemingway Design. From £225 for a mounted print, Surface ViewLiked this? Find more hot ideas on Livingetc’s website.

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