Choosing art thoughtfully, whether for your home, gallery or office, can be a lengthy and sometimes personal process. However, your considerations shouldn’t end the moment you pick out a piece of art that speaks to you. Taking care with the way in which you hang a 2D artwork is important if you are going to maximise its power and effect.
Whether you are familiar with the art world or buying art for the first time, our Gallery Manager Chris Morgan has shared his thoughts and advice on how to achieve gallery standard at home.
What we use in Hancock Gallery
Here at the gallery, we use a perlon cord and hook system. This consists of a horizontal rail, vertical hangers and adjustable hooks, which moves side to side within a track. This allows us to effortlessly move paintings in all directions and means we don’t have to fill holes or risk damage to the walls.
The hooks on the perlon cord can move independently up and down and we either use the picture cord strung across the back, or the picture hooks themselves which are attached to the back of the artwork.
This is ideal for a gallery, but this approach is surplus to requirement in a home or office.
So, what should you consider when you are hanging art of your own?
Step 1: Choosing a space for your artwork.
Most importantly, before you start drilling into walls, evaluate if the piece works within the space you’re considering. Take your time. Take other pieces of artwork down so you have a neutral space and re-hang what is on your wall, adding in your new piece to maximise the collection of artwork you already have.
In our previous blog on how to buy art for your home, I made some suggestions for the artwork that might suit different rooms in your house. The dreamy escapism of landscape artwork can be wonderful in the master bedroom or living room. As figurative pieces tend to be thought-provoking, they can add a discussion point to connecting hallways in your home. The fun of pop art and street art lends itself well to lounge areas, or can offer a bit of humour in or on your way to the bathroom or bedroom – offering a humorous hit. Abstract art really can sit on any wall in any home, offering contrast in a period property or highlighting the clean lines of a more modern home.
Consider the mood and lighting of the room, and take your time to map out and visualise where the work would hang.
Tip: Use old wallpaper or wrapping paper to map out the sizes and shapes of your artwork to help you visualise the space.
Step 2: Working out your height and measurements
When ascertaining the height at which to hang your art, look for the ‘centre line’. Imagine a horizontal line running through the very middle of your piece, this is the line you want to set at your preferred height. You will want this to be around eye level so people can see the art.
The exact height at which you hang your artwork might depend on the size of the artwork, your own preferences and eyeline, and your installation space. However, if you are hanging multiple pieces, you should aim for consistency.
In the gallery we tend to aim for 152cm as the centre for all paintings in one room. Of course this might not always be possible, but by maintaining a consistent height for the centre line of your pieces, you can achieve a pleasing consistency, regardless of artwork size, throughout your collection.
Tip: Don’t hang artwork too high. By hanging artwork slightly lower you’ll increase the feeling of space in the room.
If you are hanging your artwork by picture wire or string, you will need to take some measurements to ensure your piece hangs at this chosen height.
- Position your artwork at the desired location on the wall
- Work out where the top of your artwork will sit on the wall and mark lightly with a pencil
(if using a centre line method, measure the height of the artwork and divide by two, add this to your centre line height to find the total eg. 152cm + XXcm)
- Flip the artwork over and stretch the string tight to the top edge of the artwork. Measure from the string to the top of the artwork.
- Using this new measurement, measure down from the mark on the wall and mark lightly with a pencil. This is your screw hole mark
Step 3: Picking the best way to affix the art to the wall
Once you have selected the space and made the measurements to hang your work, you need to choose an appropriate fixing.
Brick, timber and plasterboard all have different considerations when looking to secure a piece of art to a wall.
To fix to brick or concrete, a masonry drill bit will be required, these are characterised by their hammer head or T shaped profile. Preferably your drill will also have a ‘hammer’ setting which will make drilling into masonry much easier. You’ll also need masonry wall plugs, designed to expand and grab the solid brick.
When securing to plasterboard, an all-purpose bit will be fine, but the type of wall plug is important. Plastic dry-wall or plasterboard plugs expand in a different way and grip the soft plasterboard without crushing or destroying the wall. For heavier pieces of artwork, other plasterboard fixings can be used. Spring toggles, hollow wall anchors and self-driving plugs can all be used to give a fixing which is tight to the wall surface.
Timber tends not to need a plug, depending on the thickness of the material. A simple screw can be used to tighten the wall surface.
- Hooking or screwing the art onto the wall fixings
How you then affix the piece to the wall depends on the fixings on the back of your artwork.
The benefit of using hooks on a wall is that you increase the security; things are less likely to fall off a hook. The downside is that the hook will protrude away from the wall, leaving you with a big gap behind the painting.
Simple picture hooks fixed with a small nail will be sufficient to hold up a lightweight piece of art. Alternatively some slimline, screw-in hooks are also available on the market.
For nearly all pieces of art, a screw into a solid wall will be more than adequate. With all of the weight and gravity acting on the piece, the downward force will hold the piece ‘down’ onto the screw.
One thing to bear in mind however, is if the wall shakes, bounces and could be moved – e.g. a wall near a busy thoroughfare, near a slamming door, or internal wall with little support.
Tip: Use two screws spaced roughly 10cm apart instead of just one. This will allow you to level the painting more easily.
If you’re still finding it hard to imagine your artwork within your space, don’t worry - we are here to help. We offer free home consultations to all of our Hancock Gallery customers, all from the comfort of your own home. This service is relaxed, enjoyable and 100% commitment free.
Contact us about booking your home consultation and let our experts do the hard work for you.
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