The gallery wall or ‘salon hang’ might have fallen out of favour in galleries and exhibitions (too 'traditional'), but in our homes it's more popular than ever. Perhaps driven by Instagram? Or the yearning for more maximalist interiors? It’s certainly not the only way to hang art – sometimes a solo artwork on a wall speaks for itself and can be incredibly powerful. However, if like me, you have too much art for your small flat, and you want to bring personality into it, and make your artworks interact with each other, it's a great option.
Putting them together is often the best part. You're bound to discover connections between artworks that you didn't know existed – I love seeing a dialogue at play in art. And remember, nothing is fixed forever. People can often feel too much pressure to make it look “perfect” but sometimes accidents are where the magic happens. Try not to be too meticulous about exact measurements and precise alignment.
Georgia's Gallery Wall featuring artwork by Hester Finch, Camilla Perkins, Rose Electra Harris, Venetia Berry, Mafalda Vasconcelos.
photography: Jessica Ellis
A few practical steps, to help you on your way:
The most compelling gallery walls comprise artworks that have been collected over time. Don't be tempted to buy all at once - it just looks (and feels) too deliberate. You want it to tell a story of places you’ve visited and experiences you’ve had. You can definitely mix affordable exhibition posters with more expensive original artwork – even the odd framed postcard can look great and will help shake up the scale. Check out museum shops such as The Royal Academy or TATE for their old exhibition posters, some of them are iconic and have been designed by leading artists.
Choose pieces that have a conversation in some way. You could go down a genre or subject-matter themed route rather than, say, a colour coded one. I change up my gallery wall (picture above) all the time, however, at the moment, it's got a soft feminist focus with lots by female artists who have reclaimed the female nude. It’s definitely not shy, or retiring, but why not make people stop and stare? In my opinion art is not there to blend in.
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Try mixing media, sizes, textures and colours to achieve an effect that’s not too forced or deliberate. I love exhibition posters in colour-pop frames, such as a gloss red or yellow. Don’t think too much about trying to match the wall to your decor in that room either, although pairings and similarities might reveal themselves organically, which I think is often the fun part about the process.
This can help you get your eye in in terms of composition. Think about how much space you want to leave between each work, and what kind of look you're going for. For example, if your artworks are quite uniform in style, then you can be a bit freer with the layout, and you don't have to worry too much about spacing. If you're going for something more eclectic that mixes media, colour, size and frames though, keep pieces at a similar distance on one axis, so the relationship is clear. In both cases, think about balancing larger works out so that it's not bottom or top heavy.
Once you've found your composition, choose your most central bottom work and hang that, and then work outwards from there, remembering how much space you wanted between each work. Some people even cut out pieces of paper and stick them to the wall before they start hammering.
Do your research as to what type of wall you're working with. Different fixtures are recommended for hard walls vs plaster board walls, and you don't want anything crashing down. Command strips can also be a hole-free solution for light artworks - perfect if you're renting.
You may decide you want a professional to help you hang - it's worth the expense if you plan to keep the display up long term, and it'll save you on re-plastering later.
Remember, don’t get too crippled by “the perfect hang” as sometimes slightly off-centre and non-perfect hangs make for the best ones with the most personality. And if it doesn't work out? You can simply change it.
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