Curiouser and curiouser: collage walls, bunting and ceiling design

Creative interior design at the Hand In Hand, a cosy pub in Kemp Town, Brighton. The small old fashioned interior is decorated with mini bunting, DIY collage walls, and pictures hung on the ceiling, giving it a very topsy-turvy, Alice in Wonderland feel. Whether you are a tourist or local it is well worth a visit.

The pub’s festive miniature bunting is hung across the spirits shelf. The festive bunting transforms the spirit shelf into a toy like fantasy realm where the whiskey bottles are gigantic. Seems like the perfect place for a wee Glaswegian fairy piss-up!

Last time I was at the Hand In Hand it was Burns Night, which I hope should justify the fairies drinking whiskey nonsense, anyway, apologies for the digression, back to the interior design. There is also a DIY collage wall of beer mats pinned to the wall, and my personal favourite, the ceiling covered with pictures! We didn’t install these, but very much appreciate whoever did. As well as the quirky interior design the Hand In Hand also brew their own delicious craft beer. The stout is wonderful.

Pictures hung all over the ceiling at the Hand In Hand Pub, Kemp Town, Brighton

Pictures hung all over the ceiling at the Hand In Hand Pub.

Picture Wall Ideas: Arranging and Hanging Multiples or Groups

 

Picture wall ideas. A picture wall of twenty Andy Warhol prints, hung in a grid.

A picture wall of twenty Andy Warhol prints, hung in a grid formation.

Here are some picture wall ideas. If you’ve ever made a collage in art class at school then you can use the same principles to arrange and hang multiples or groups of frames or pictures. Each picture or frame acts as one formal element that needs to be pulled together as part of a cohesive whole, while still allowing the individual pieces to breathe and not be dominated by the other elements.

You will find this much easier when you are arranging multiples that have been intended to hang together, as in a botanical series. In the case of a botanical series or a series like Hogarth’s I would tend to go for some sort of grid formation.

Grid formations can be a great way to fill a wall space where a large painting or print isn’t available. Or to emphasise the lines of a long hallway.

Picture wall ideas. Eight Japanese flower pictures hung in a grid formation.

Eight Japanese flower pictures hung in a grid formation.

The parallel lines created by the grid formation can look particularly striking. Matching frames tend to be what works for a conventional set of multiples or series. It allows the subject matter to be the focus rather than the frame. I can’t really think of a case where a frame should deemphasise or takeaway from what’s inside it.

Multicoloured Frames

That being said I have used different coloured frames to great effect. On a hanging project in 2016 I was presented with a series of typical barrister’s portraits in a London barrister’s chambers. I felt there was a way of arranging the portraits that spiced them up a bit without being disrespectful. The goal was to create a feature wall in the reception area of the chambers.

Picture wall ideas. Collage of pictures hung for Martyn in Seven Dials, Brighton

Collage of multicoloured framed pictures hung for Martyn in Seven Dials, Brighton

For a series of nine photographs I suggested using three different pastel colours repeated three times across the series. I worked with the framer and the client to choose the right Farrow and Ball colours that we felt added some interest without being too zany or poppy.

You could try the same creative approach with family photographs or similar. Use colours that reflect or enhance the subject matter, not act in conflict with it, or drown it out.

Mismatching Frames

Equally, mismatching frames can be great, especially when a collection of works or family photographs has been built up and put into different frames over time then hung in various places around the house. Then, when having moved or redecorated you decide to hang a group of this disparate collection together, the mismatching frames can become a feature.

A trio of portraits, each from a distinctly different era and artist. Conversing through the ages, hung on a wall in a guest bedroom in in Kemp Town.

A trio of portraits, each from a distinctly different era and artist. Conversing through the ages, hung on a wall in a guest bedroom in in Kemp Town.

I’ll often arrange the group according to frame colour and style as well as the subject matter inside the frame. The principle to follow here is a technique I learnt in art school – you’re always working to achieve a balance between repetition and variation. The trick is to try to repeat colours, tones, styles where possible but also introduce enough variety throughout the group so that it doesn’t become too repetitive! It’s a balancing act!

Arranging a Collage Wall

Picture wall ideas. A salon style or collage picture hanging in Leon's house in Brighton

A salon style or collage picture hanging in Leon’s house in Brighton

If you do find yourself with a set of mismatching frames it becomes very difficult to try and force it to adhere to a grid. Don’t be afraid to break out of the grid. This is when you really are creating a collage.

I always begin by measuring the space on the wall to determine how large I think the group should be. I’ll use Post-it notes to delineate the top, bottom, left and right boundaries of the group on the wall.

The next step is to find an area of floor space where I can lay out my frames. Again I will use is Post-it notes on the floor to mark out my wall dimensions. I then begin to lay out the frames on the floor.

When you’re beginning your picture arrangement the trick is not to think too much about it. Just start laying out the frames without editing too much.

Picture wall ideas. A collage or picture wall that I arranged and installed running up these stairs in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

A collage or picture wall that I arranged and installed running up these stairs in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

It is important at this stage to consider the gaps between the frames. When the frames are small to medium sized I like to go for gaps of 4 to 6 centimetres. Having relatively consistent gaps helps to unify the group.

Then stand back and look at the whole layout and start to edit and move things around until areas of the group start to work together. You might find that some frames are just too mismatching and won’t work in the group. Take them out.

Picture wall ideas. A collage of over 50 framed photographs in a hallway in Putney

A collage of over 50 framed photographs in a hallway in Putney

You need to play around for a while until it starts to work as a whole. For a group of say 15 or 20 frames it might take half an hour to an hour to find a layout that works.

It’s a fun process and the key is to not let it become to serious. Maintain a sense of play and discovery and don’t be afraid to try things that might seem out of the ordinary. You never know, it just might look great!

Notes on organising an art exhibition in a new city

Here I am, picture hanger by day.

Here I am, picture hanger by day.

Hello, I’m Emily, the newest addition to Patrick’s team. I’m a picture hanger by day, artist filmmaker by night. After graduating from Chelsea College of Arts in 2016 I’ve moved to Brighton. Hoping that the sea air will inspire new art. It’s working pretty well so far.  I’ve met one brilliant artist, Rebecca Archer, who recently completed a residency at Blast Theory. Together we are preparing an exhibition for February 2017 at Gallery Lock In.

The Robin Hood, a non-profit pub in Hove that supports the local community

The Robin Hood. A non-profit pub in Hove that supports the local community.

A few weeks ago we met up  with the owner of Gallery Lock In.  Beth showed us around the space – two garages that have been converted into a gallery.  Beth has a very enthusiastic approach to curating.  She encourages us to utilise the space however we see fit, even if that means painting the walls.  It is refreshing to meet a gallery owner who is so passionate about facilitating the creation of non-commercial art.

Gallery Lock-In is an old garage converted into an art gallery

Gallery Lock-In may look like an old garage (well, because it is) but it’s also so much more!

Over pints in the The Robin Hood Pub ( a stones throw away from the gallery), Beth described more about the space and how she organises shows.  The rent is kept affordable so that artists can make and show work without the pressure of having to sell.  However, she doesn’t discourage selling, if you do, you keep 100%. Which is unheard of.  Usually gallerists keep a cut of the price.

On a typical private view night they have a few drinks in the gallery then migrate to the pub. Those that attend Gallery Lock In private views enjoy discussing art and often, a debate around the work ensues.  A large part of being at art school was lengthily discussing the art, it is something I never thought I’d say I’d miss, but I do!  So I’m looking forward to that.  The pub itself has an interesting backstory.  The Robin Hood is a non-profit pub.  After paying its employees and rent, all profit goes back into the community  – making the decision to order another pint an easy one!

We’ve booked the space for the 16th – 18th of February, and since our visit to Gallery Lock – In, we’ve been busily planning for the show. Exciting things are happening. Watch this space.

Waxing Lyrical for The Daily Mail

Here’s me being quoted in yesterday’s Daily Mail Interiors section. I was pleasantly surprised to be asked the best way to approach hanging a set of multiples or a group of frames. Hanging groups of frames is probably my favourite thing to do, picture hanging wise. My comments are towards the end of the article.

A collage or picture wall that I arranged and installed running up these stairs in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

A collage or picture wall that I arranged and installed running up these stairs in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

1000 True Fans

If you’ve not heard of Kevin Kelly, he may well be one of the most interesting people alive at the moment. If that makes you curious I’ll leave it you to google him, but I will start you on your journey with a link to a blog post of his that I keep returning to. If you are a maker, inventor, creative, or small business owner then this will be relevant.

http://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/

 

Out Of Office Poetry

One of my clients had this set as his email out of office autoresponder. Pure gold.

So, Ted Cruz has quit the race.
Leaving the way open for the man with the red face,
Who leaks bile from his every orifice,
To run unchallenged for a cab to the oval office.

I left my rectangular offices
To join up with those mercurial goddesses
And flew off to San Francisco
Home to streets, hills and quality disco.
Where Mercury Rev and I were on hire
To improvise a score to the film Vampyr
At this wonderful Film Festival
It wasn’t gory like Alien or extraterrestrial
Like The Man Who Fell To Earth
It was an event of real worth.

But people i must now tell you of my imminent sense of elation
As i am about to begin a few days vacation.
And i urge you to think twice
About asking for my advice
Knowing as you do now,
That even i must allow
Myself an occasional day off or two.
I don’t think this is an extreme view!

I’ll be back sooner than you think
Not with a red face but a gentle shade of pink.