Art consultant Kate Anniss, Founder of Mylo Art, shares her expert advice for choosing, hanging and displaying art to create a characterful and soulful home. By Jessica Jonzen
‘MY ART AT HOME IS VERY PERSONAL AND BRINGS ME NO END OF JOY – IT’S CONSTANTLY EVOLVING,’ SAYS ART CURATOR AND FOUNDER OF MYLO ART KATE ANNISS ABOUT HER COLLECTION, WHICH INCLUDES PIECES FOR SALE, ON DISPLAY IN HER HAMPSHIRE HOME. IMAGE: BOZ GAGOVSKI
How would you recommend someone should start their art collection?
Pick a place in your home where you feel you would really like to hang a new piece. Does it need colour or should it be more meditative? Does it need to be decorative or will a more reductive piece be more suitable? Having a spot in mind can focus the mind if only in terms of scale. It’s a good spring board to get you thinking about what you might like. However, I often find that when client has bought a work for a particular spot, they have ended up hanging it somewhere else!
Once you have found something that you love, try not to be too rigid about where you hang it. If you get the artwork home and work out it sits beautifully in a different room, thats fine! You can have the pleasure of going back to source another piece for the original place you were looking for. Once you have started the journey you will naturally start to balance out your collection, noticing that you need a real variety of artworks to enrich your collection and these can be interchangeable, location-wise.
What do you think are the most effective ways to display art in a home?
I love a gallery wall where you have a group of works which are unrelated in size and style but work together as a whole. Lighting is key, but I am not wedded to picture lights. I love to see work up lit by lamps or to see paintings caught in a shaft of afternoon light from a window. Pictures are like people – they don’t only look good in the spotlight. Incidental and accidental lighting and can show them off beautifully. Likewise, I don’t worry if a piece is partially obscured by a plant or light, I quite like the fragmented effect. I think you can be playful and informal with artwork.
‘I AM LUCKY BECAUSE I HANG A LOT OF WORK WHICH IS FOR SALE IN MY HOME, SO THE WALLS ARE NEVER STATIC,’ SAYS KATE ANNISS. IMAGE: BOZ GAGOVSKI
Are there any unexpected places where you’d recommend people try hanging art?
Don’t forget your bedroom. Clients often save the best work for downstairs, but we spend so much time in our bedrooms and its really worth investing in something you’ll love waking up to! Equally, children’s bedrooms don’t have to have infantile inexpensive pieces. Find them something beautiful, stimulating and unusual. Nurture their aesthetic sensibilities from a young age!
Can art be safely hung in a bathroom?
I have works on paper in my bathroom and I do keep a half anxious eye on a couple of them. A well ventilated bathroom can usually take a well-framed artwork that is properly sealed at the back. If you notice any condensation on the inside of the glass, however, it’s time to have a rethink. Ultimately, you probably don’t want to have a really valuable work in your bathroom, but that shouldn’t stop you having anything at all.
(LEFT) THE MID-CENTURY DUTCH DESK BELONGED TO KATE’S GRANDFATHER IN HOLLAND. ON THE WALLS, FOUR LIMITED EDITION ROMANESQUE HEADS FROM THE LOUVRE, WHICH MYLO ART RELEASED AS A ONE-OFF EDITION, FRAMED IN HAND-PAINTED APPLE GREEN FRAMES. (RIGHT) ‘SHIMMERING HEAT’ MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS BY CLAIRE OXLEY ON THE SITTING ROOM WALL. IMAGES: BOZ GAGOVSKI
What’s your advice for framing art?
I tend to keep things super simple. I like museum style oak or off-white framing, and very often ask for a spacer to set the artwork away from the glass. I tend to not have work mounted traditionally but float work within the frame, I like to see the edges of the paper or card. With work on canvas I always have a spacer and then the moulding, again something very simple, so the canvas ‘floats’ within the frame – never anything too chunky, let the picture do the talking. I am not adverse to a little brushed gold on a very simple moulding, or a hand-coloured frame if the picture allows. Colour can be tricky as I am not a fan of matching up colour to a painting as it seems to drain the focus point which should always be the artwork, however, I am a fan of a handprinted frame – The Fabled Thread, who we are collaborating with, do wonderful handmade frames for their tapestries, showing how with a bit of flair you can have some fun with pattern.
Who are some of your favourite artists and why?
Where to start? Probably my real favourites are artists of whom I became aware early on in my life. Stanley Spencer will always be important to me as I grew up not far from Cookham in Berkshire, where he lived and worked. I visited the little Stanley Spencer Gallery beside the Thames so many times on summer days before picnicking and swimming in the river. I felt a visceral connection to his allegorical paintings of 20th century rural England.
I also adore Edward Hopper, again for capturing a mournful stillness which I remember resonating on some level as a teenager. The remoteness of the American landscapes and the solitariness of figures within it felt disturbing but exciting. Years later, I visited the Art Institute of Chicago and saw one of his most famous paintings, ‘Night Hawks’, for the first time. It was breathtaking, not just for the incredible composition but the colours are luminous.
I wouldn’t mind an Emin drawing as I am fascinated by her, both as a person and as an artist. Years back we decided to buy a small piece of hers from the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition – my heart was thumping when we went to the counter, only to be told that it had just been sold! I visited her recent show at the Whitechapel Gallery and found her paintings of women unexpected and moving.
I am keeping my eye on the outsider artist John McKie who lives on the Scottish borders. I would like to buy one of his small, irreverent and ingenious drawings which he posts and sells via Instagram. His work really makes me laugh.
THE CENTRAL PAINTING ON THE WALL IN KATE’S SITTING ROOM IS BY ANN FARLEY, CURRENTLY ON DISPLAY AT MYLO ART. TO THE LEFT, WORKS BY LAURI HOPKINS AND HOLLY FREAN, AND BECKY BLAIR AND IONA STERN TO THE RIGHT. IMAGE: BOZ GAGOVSKI
What does art mean to you in your own home?
My art at home is very personal and brings me no end of joy – it is constantly evolving. To me, my paintings are transporting objects – I can envisage exactly what stage I was at, or where I was when I found them. They are like a beautiful time line and each piece is meaningful. I wish that I had bought more in my twenties as I worked with some really interesting artists back then but I always thought ‘I will buy a piece another time’ and I never really did. I started to collect my own work in my thirties and each piece is a clear marker of a moment in time.
I am lucky as I hang a lot of work which is for sale in my home, so the walls are never static, but I have really started to become aware of the importance of building up my own collection. I have quite a few pieces by my sister and mother, who are both artists. My mother has also bought paintings for my three children, including a painting by the brilliant illustrator Oliver Jeffers. I love how different these pieces are – they add so much texture and life to the walls. I have just commissioned two bronze busts of my girls which is quite thrilling and feels very grown up!
What are the golden rules for displaying art in your home?
Only hang things that you love or that mean something to you, rather than things you are less keen on which are space fillers. Try not to spread pictures around too thinly; not every wall has to have something hanging on it. If it is too small or the wrong proportions for the space, don’t hang it. It might work better as a pair or as part of a group.
Don’t go too matchy matchy! Mix up photography with a collage, oil paintings with a sketch or hang textiles beside screen prints. By hanging a variety of media, the eye can take in each piece individually. When you have too much of one style or genre, it appears as an homogenous block rather then a series of interesting pieces.
I’d recommend having one or two really large pieces, if you can. Even if you have low ceilings and the work hangs down to knee height, playing with scale really adds drama. And finally, move things around! There is no better way to fall back in love with your own collection then to place pieces in a different position and appreciate them in a different context.
myloart.co.uk; The current exhibition online and at the gallery in Stockbridge, Hampshire, is of new work by Ann Farley and Mylo Art’s collaboration with The Fabled Thread. Mylo Art’s Summer Exhibition begins on 10 June
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