Choosing art for your home can be a daunting experience. And, understanding how to display it a little tricky too.
Fenton & Fenton founder, Lucy Fenton has a simple tip to get started. Buy art you love! When a piece of art starts talking to you or you find yourself daydreaming about a certain piece, just buy it! Layby it! Do whatever it takes to make sure it’s yours.
And, don’t over think where it’s going to hang. Lucy is a big believer that there will always be a place for a piece of art you absolutely love, even if you feel it’s a bit big or too small. Oversized artwork can make a real statement and make a room appear larger. And, small pieces can be successfully used to create a gallery wall that you can keep adding to, so that you create and build a story over time. Too often I see people looking for a certain size or colour of artwork. It’s very restrictive and takes the fun out of it, says Lucy… just relax and buy what you love!
At the heart of what Fenton & Fenton does is make art accessible for everyone. It’s such a powerful way to transform a space and add personality to your home.
Read on for our interview with Lucy for her tips on displaying art and collected treasures and curiosities in a home.
What was your first piece of art and do you still have it?
I remember being very young and my sister giving me a very cute little screen printed line drawing of a dog, it's on linen and just simply stretched over a timber frame. It's now hanging in my daughter's room. That's what I love about art, it can remind you of different times in your life. Even if you grow out of it, it still has meaning and you can change where or how you hang it so it always remains in your collection. I have bought little pieces and treasures from all over the world and have also been gifted some fab pieces over the years. I love not only being surrounded by these memories, but the stories they create in my home.
What was your most recent art purchase?
My most recent purchase was a little still life fruit bowl by Emma Gale. I have been an avid Emma Gale fan since we first met back in 2012 and have collected a few of her works over the years.
How do you believe art can change or transform a space?
Art always has the power to not only set the mood and ambience for a space, but also make a powerful statement and spark conversation. At Fenton & Fenton, the soul of a room is defined by the art on its walls, and yes, it has the power to totally transform a room. Art injects personality, adds colour and warmth, fills void spaces, creates a centrepiece or room hero, and when grouped, tells a fabulous story.
What about displaying art? Any tricks to hanging it successfully? Does it always have to be framed? What about resting it on the floor or against a wall?
If you don't know what you're doing get a professional hanger in to help you, they can make life so much easier. Most houses I go to have the art hanging way too high, so just be cautious of this. My rule of thumb is to keep most pieces at about eye level. Unless of course it's a gallery wall and then you can just go for it and have art floor to ceiling, which always looks amazing. And, yes, to pieces leaning against a wall, just not all pieces. Try one piece to make a bit of a statement, this style also works well when when layering up a bedside table or creating a vignette over a fireplace or entrance console.
And, framing… How important is this?
Framing is also important. My tip. Don't opt for cheap framing and ruin a beautiful piece of art just for the sake of framing it. You would be better to leave it unframed. I like a mixture of framed and unframed pieces in my own home, and a variation of different frames too. Anything too matchy-matchy starts to look boring. Also, the frame should fit the artwork, and act as an extension of it. Choose a frame to suit the art, and not a trend. This way you'll love your piece for years to come.
What are your tricks and tips to displaying groups of art, for instance, a gallery wall or a vignette of sculptures or decorative objects?
I love a vignette created by a collection of pieces you love. It can really tell a story about the places you've been and the things that speak to you. The more eclectic the better! I always recommend anchoring a piece to become the hero of your display. This will generally be the first piece the eye will rest. Make sure it's got visual weight, through size or colour. Then, display pieces of various sizes, styles and texture to create a bit of tension. And, don't be afraid to mix to the max. Mix photography with drawings, paintings and sculpture for instant wow. Offbeat combinations really do work.
How do you decide which artists to feature at Fenton & Fenton?
Like everything in store, if we love it we feature it. We also take into consideration who else we are representing and make sure we have a varied mix of styles and price points. Art is extremely personal, so we try and offer a broad range, which is constantly changing and will keep evolving. There's some exciting exhibitions and events shaping up in-store and online this year.
Where's the best place to start if someone is thinking about investing in art for their home?
Fall in love with a piece! Spend the time looking around for something that you really can't live without. Art can transform a room and bring it to life, so make sure the piece makes you feel amazing.
Should the art dictate the interior direction or should it be the other way around?
Whatever naturally comes first. We're not big on rules, other than trying not to over think things. Sometimes you will have pieces of art that you have collected over the years and they will move from home to home with you. Sometimes you will really need something specific for a wall that is bare or a space that feels ho-hum. Always take your time to find something that resonates with you. And, when it resonates, snatch it up!
How do you think Fenton & Fenton has helped first time art buyers break into the art world?
I believe we have played a major part in making original works of art accessible to more first time art buyers both here in Australia and abroad. Traditionally original artwork was sold through galleries, which can be a little intimidating for some of us. We've worked hard to create a shopping experience that is more relaxed and a bit like being in someone's home. We intentionally display the art with furniture and accessories to help people visualise how it might look in their own home. We also offer a complete styling service, where we can help you bring your own home to life. This is how many of our customers have selected their first piece of art.
When did your love of art begin, and how did you first get involved in the world of art collecting?
When I first opened Fenton & Fenton (13 years ago) I started discovering up-and-coming artists as part of my quest to offer a unique shopping experience for the home. Back then, we represented lots of students who were studying or had recently graduated from art school and it really just grew organically over time. More and more artists then began approaching us, and it continues to work both ways today. I've met so many super talented artists who just can't find the right outlet to offer their work to buyers, so it's been a great relationship for everyone involved. We started having exhibitions in our space about 9 years ago and that has really encouraged a whole new demographic of buyers to attend exhibitions who may have previously been daunted by the whole gallery experience.
What mistakes have you seen first time art buyers make when selecting their first piece?
Buying art just because it's 'affordable' but you don't really love it! You will grow to dislike art like this. Save for the piece you really want and don't opt for the cheaper option unless of course it's what you really want. Also, don't over think the proportions, it doesn't matter if it's too big or too small, you will always find a spot for it. If it's smaller, group it with some other pieces on a large wall. If it's too big, just embrace the supersized look! Never too big in my opinion!
Ready to kick start your art collection now? Shop our latest art arrivals here.