Expert tips from Artmarket Gallery director Michelle Power

Expert tips from Artmarket Gallery director Michelle Power

Where will it be? 
Think carefully about your location. Are you hanging in your hallway, living room – or even your kitchen or bathroom? 
How often will you see the piece? How often do you want to see it? 

And consider safety – of your artwork and, even more importantly, your own. Tempting as it may be, it’s probably best not to hang over a fireplace, where the work might ultimately be damaged by the direct heat. And be careful to check where electrical wires or water pipes are – you don’t want to go banging a nail into either of those! 

Consider the scale 
A tiny, intimate piece will be lost if you hang it over a huge, plump sofa – unless you cluster it with other, similar-sized pieces (plan these carefully, though!). Similarly, a huge, dramatic painting could be overbearing in a small room full of delicate furniture.

Consider the style 
If your living room is ultra-modern and sleek, a traditional oil will stand out like a sore thumb – and vice versa! 

How to hang artwork

How high? 
There’s a general tendency to hang art high on a wall so that you’re looking up at it even when standing. No one wants a cricked neck – hang your art so the centre is roughly at eye level.

Leading art auctioneers Christie’s recommend hanging modern/contemporary art at 1.55m (the middle of the picture), with traditional work a little higher. And – a particular bugbear of mine – don’t line the tops of the pieces up with the head of your doorframe. The eye seeks variety when it looks at a room. 

Think about the practicalities 
If you hang work from a single picture hook, it will lean forward slightly and may move in the slightest breeze. Hanging from a pair of hooks, towards each side of the picture, will prevent this. 

How to hang artwork

Use your toolbox 
A tape measure and/or a spirit level can both be really useful if you don’t have a perfect eye – and who does? 

Think about your other art 
Do your pieces work together – either contrasting pleasingly or complementing each other? And make sure you consider the ‘negative’ space – the wall that shows in between pieces can enhance or detract from their visual impact. 

And finally… 
If you want to, disregard all of the above! Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder, so if you really want to hang a Gainsborough alongside a Damien Hirst, 12 feet up, who am I to tell you otherwise? 
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