Falling Hard for Art

Posted by Phoebe Oldrey in Art & Accessories


Taking in the view at Affordable Art Fair Battersea

I see so many beautiful things in the homes of my friends and clients (I am, quite simply, surrounded by good design), but there is one particular accent to great design that consistently turns my head. Sometimes it even makes me stop dead in my tracks, takes my breath away, or inspires me to crack a smile or even laugh out loud. That thing is art, and over the last decade it’s become more and more important to me and the interiors I design.

One of my earliest clients first reached out to me to design a new look for her lounge that focused on complimenting a few pieces of art that she and her husband had purchased. Throughout the years we worked together, I watched her build a beautiful collection of works which she had acquired from all around the world and it was great fun integrating them into her home’s design scheme. It was through working with her that I learned that art isn’t just about filling a space on a wall, it’s about reflecting the owner’s interests, aesthetic and essence. Art is truly the heart of a great design.

Though we can all dream of building an enviable art collection to rival the likes of Peggy Guggenheim, such a collection is rarely within our budgets. I don’t have many regrets in life, but the few I do have are about the pieces of art that I wanted but didn’t purchase due to lack of funds. As with all the heart’s true lost loves, I remember each of them well. First, there was a Damien Hurst swirl print I attempted to talk my husband into spending all his redundancy on. Then there was a stunning Jane Buckfield house in a colourful field and then a seascape from Aldeburgh Gallery that was so beautiful I could practically feel the salty sea spray on my face as I stood in front of it.

So last month, like a woman who needed to get over letting The One get away, I decided to put myself back out there and attend the speed-dating equivalent of art viewing, the Affordable Art Fair. Did I fall in love again?

 Gaze into the soulful eyes of Polar Bear Sitting, Low-Fired Ceramic by Nick Mackman at Beaux Arts Bath & take in the dreamy view of Jay Nottingham’s A Storm is Coming at Tallantyre Gallery

Tell me, who can resist an adorable Rope Dog by Dominic Gubb at Four Walls Contemporary Art?

I momentarily flirted with a ceramic bear, spent some time checking out a painting of a house, and imagined myself hardcore cuddling with some dog sculptures. Even now, as I look at the photos of the pieces, I wish I taken our short relationship a step further as I think I really could’ve loved them if we had spent more time together… I especially fancied the personality that came from the animals, which made me smile, and I think I could have been quite happy with the Jay Nottingham’s home, beautifully nestled amongst such vibrant colours.

Mood lighting really accentuates the romantic features in this piece, Le Spectateur, by Verdilly from Bernard Cauchet Contemporary Art

From the moment I locked eyes on it, I was quite taken by Le Spectateur by Verdilly from Bernard Cauchet Contemporary Art. The piece looked like a painting but was made of 3D figures positioned at a 30-degree angle, making the piece all about the shadows the small figures cast on the surface. I always admire playful and clever ideas in art and this certainly caught my eye.

I was also starting to get a little more serious about a few artists I had recently become totally smitten with. One was Lyndsey Keeling from One Church Street. Lyndsey creates 3D wall sculptures of female figures made of mesh. The gorgeous simplicity of her work reveals great intricacy when you look closer as these sensual pieces seem to float over the canvas with the delicacy of a fine pencil drawing.

I was struck by the elegant shape of the form in Lyndsey Keeling’s work at One Church Street Gallery & elegant delicacy of Rebecca Coles’ work at Mark Jason Gallery

I was also mesmerised by Rebecca Coles’ large-scale butterfly pieces that are individually cut out from various recycled paper sources; each work has a theme and is pin mounted in a box frame, the paper figures arranged in large circles and spirals. The use of shadow in these two pieces created a unique depth that I truly, madly, deeply loved.

It was love at first sight when I noticed this piece by Stephanie Rew at Beaux Arts Bath

Lastly, I fell head-over-heels in love with a classical painting of a lady in a green wrap by Stephanie Rew from Beaux Arts Bath. Yet again, it was the sensuousness of the piece that struck me and I couldn’t help but gaze at the painting’s beautiful subject and wonder what thoughts were running through her head. The piece was colourful, serene and yet melancholy all at the same time which truly captivated me, body and soul. This is the power of good art and it was with a heavy heart that I realised we were not destined to be together as the piece was about to be wrapped and shipped to its lucky new owner. Whoever they are, I hope they also spent many a curious moment trying to read her thoughts.

At the end of the fair, I decided I was saving myself (as well as saving up) and wasn’t quite ready to commit to anything. Regardless, I keep my eye on many artists and galleries online (is this the art equivalent of Facebook stalking a boy you fancy?) as I never know when a particular artwork will be the perfect missing piece to a client’s design puzzle. Personally, I’m still waiting to be swept off my feet. When it next happens, I promise not to walk away.

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