The Well Travelled Wall
Art and artefacts gathered on your travels make for truly original gallery walls, creating soulful surroundings that are bursting with personality...
Wall art is one of the most important elements in any interior. It personalises your space and adds soul not to mention colour and style. It is also hugely personal and provokes very different emotional responses in the onlooker, depending on everything from life experiences and family heritage to hobbies, passions and even sense of humour.
You might decide to take inspiration from a cherished artwork, using it as the starting point for your decorating scheme. More often than not though, art is selected once the furniture and furnishings are in place. At this stage it is essential not to hurry the process despite being keen to complete your decorating project. Getting it right by taking your time to find the right piece involves a degree of patience and research both online and in person. The Affordable Art Fair is a great option for well-priced original artworks along with The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair for vintage pieces and Decorex interior design trade fair for large scale contemporary prints and canvases. There are of course countless art fairs, exhibitions and open houses to visit across the country – staying close to home often unearths art that really resonates. But it’s not always a question of investing in a single, statement piece.
Gallery walls, where you assemble multiple artworks across a single wall, have become increasingly visible in contemporary family homes. They are unique and add character and personality to your space. They can be formal and rely on symmetry or informal and be arranged at random, as well as being remarkably cost effective – who doesn’t love to frame their children’s nursery school drawings. Plus they are a flexible decorating device for blank wall spaces, no matter what the size or shape of the area to be decorated, where mirrors or shelving are not called for.
Gallery walls take many forms: chic, monochrome galleries, all black and white photography and sleek co-ordinating frames; multiple but similarly themed artworks such as a set of botanical prints often symmetrically arranged; or a considered but seemingly random collection of art, photography and artefacts of different sizes and in a variety of new and vintage frames.
This last option is brilliant for the globetrotting collector versed in exploring foreign lands and their fascinating cultures. Our magpie-like tendencies have always resulted ever-expanding gallery walls in our own properties from flat to apartment to family home. And the vibrancy, interest and variety of the wall art is really only limited by your imagination. Below you will find some global travel-inspired wall art ideas you can adapt, to reflect your and your family’s story so far…
- Framed textiles are an obvious starting point. Ethnic textiles redolent of a country or culture serve as a great reminder of your trip. Expertly framed and hung on your wall back home, they transport you back to the bustling market place, tribal lands or artist’s studio where you were first inspired by the colours, patterns and heritage of the design. Textiles gathered on your travels can also be stretched on a canvas for a tactile addition to your gallery wall. Of course the best thing about decorative foreign textiles, good enough to display, is that they are often inexpensive and are very easy to bring back in your suitcase. Be careful not to hang in direct sunlight however, as natural dyes may not be colourfast and may fade. The other option is to source textile art from specialist suppliers back home. We love our silkscreen prints by Shogun Designs depicting the celebrated and visually arresting Gion festivals held each year in Japan.
- Another way of capturing the essence of a place is to frame a section of wallpaper. There are many stunning pictural wallpapers that depict landscapes or cities that may resonate with you or your family. We wouldn’t do this with any ordinary wallpaper – it would have to be something special – we framed a section of hand-printed Bennison wallpaper showcasing a super-sized rose in full bloom with a snail on a branch – a charming reminder for us National Trust members of the English country gardens we love to frequent. But it could be snow-capped mountains, the African savannah or minarets in Moscow for your family.
- Some of the many items we brought back from our time living in Thailand were vintage Thai hill tribe costumes readily available in the markets of the north. Particularly charming are the children’s tunics with their pretty tassels, beading, sequins and colourful pom poms. So beautiful are they in fact that they currently hang on the wall in our daughter’s bedroom – a Bangkok baby herself with Thai embroidered booties and outfits to match her birth certificate that she will hopefully treasure one day. Ethnic costume is a fabulously eclectic addition to any gallery wall.
- Bamboo or woven conical hats are another idea for a wall display, greatly evocative of Asian landscapes. Designer Julia Brendel assembled this elegant selection in this rustic, eclectic entrance hall. By the same token patterned, woven baskets or vividly-hued African telephone wire bowls such as these colourful examples shown here by As’Art and available soon through us are similarly sculptural.
- We also collected intricate, wood carvings on our travels through South East Asia, such as this mirror-mosaic, carved, wood mirror. Smaller glittering, wooden panels are a great addition to a gallery wall adding sparkle and movement to the arrangement of pictures.
- Finally, for the ultimate in textural layering, African Juju hats are hard to beat for a touch of drama and to create a talking point around your wall display. Alone or as an asymmetrical group they bring the colour and energy of vibrant West Africa to your home.