Creating a Gallery Wall

Once Upon a time…

I used to help out at an Art Gallery where the positioning and hanging of the art was as important as the pictures themselves.  I think that apart from basic hanging ‘rules’ about eye levels not being too high, hanging pictures is a very personal thing.  However some people get very nervous about putting up art, so here is hopefully a helping hand…

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Here is my latest area where I am going to create a gallery wall, a finishing-off part of a dining room makeover.  You can read about the main bulk of work doing the room here.  After finishing the room I was left with a really large wall which has a mirror and two very large formal prints on it placed very formally.  I do like them, but wanted to create more interest and jazz it up a bit.  In fact, I noticed that when I was trying to find photos of that wall, I had hardly any as it was never that inspiring, so that is a bit telling!

I want to create a gallery wall that is much more contemporary, and uses a variety of artwork and interesting pieces.  I find I always lean towards hanging art very symmetrically and I suppose that is my comfort zone, but this time I am intentionally going to offset the pieces and push the boundaries for myself.

Can I apologise in advance for glare on the photos, the wall faces a large french window and the reflections were murder in my pictures!

So you can sort of see the wall in the back of the pictures, and it is definitely time to make it more interesting.  It is nearly 4 metres wide and has 1.7 metres clear vertically in the dado to picture rail space  There is a radiator below the dado rail bang in the middle, and I might have get a cover made for it as it does stick our like a sore thumb, but that can be a later project.  I know some people paint their radiators in the same colour and paint as the wall behind, so that could be an option…

STEP ONE

The first thing to do is strip off all existing pictures, remove any nails and fill the holes so you have a clean, smooth wall to start with, and you are not trying to work around existing nails or use them again in situ.  I also gave it a quick refresh with paint to cover any filler.

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STEP two

Gather all of your pictures and pieces together and start with the biggest piece.  Where you place this will determine the placing of other objects around it.  My main piece is going to be a fantastic huge print by Anthony Micallef, who is one of my favourite contemporary artists.  I have been loaned this piece by an art collecting friend, so am very excited to be able to use it as my key piece in the gallery wall.  It is a really strong image in monotones, so I will base most of the other pieces around this.  I have used it in a black frame, and will use these a lot throughout the gallery wall to create cohesion as it will probably be an eclectic mix of things.

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So up it goes, offset from the centre of the wall purposefully… wow, that was hard to do!  I grew up in a Georgian city and I do like classical architecture and symmetry so I am definitely out of my comfort zone.  I also placed it quite low, as I think pictures look a bit lost when placed high on a wall, especially in a room where people will be seated.

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Spacing

From this point work outwards to either the left or right, making sure the tops of picture frames do not line up with any adjacent ones.  To create a gallery wall, keep the spaces between frames quite tight, I do 2-4 inches between frames.  I added this street art homage picture to the left and below the main Micallef print as the next item on the wall, details of how to make your own street art are here:

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Next up was a collection box of antique french cottons, a framed Atlas moth and my old friend the antelope skull.  Then I added a framed insect, and a flower made from tiny strips of paper.  These were hung heading out diagonally from the two largest pictures.

Next up I added a frame of plaster dipped feathers with gold leaf, the tutorial to make these is here.

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The Nice magazine  board is a promotional piece of art my husband bought home.  I don’t know anything about it, but I like the shotgun effect and the empty cartridge attached.  A couple of more small pictures were added at this point, a family crest and a chubby wood nymph taxidermy beetle.  So at this point the gallery wall looked like this:

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I felt something still was not right, it is too heavy to the right of the wall and too much space free on the left.  So a quick hunt around my intensely cluttered house offered up a couple of visually interesting items, a large antique wall chart of parasites which has exactly the right orange colours scattered throughout the room, and an antique sawfish’s rostrum (sort of like a toothed sword).

img_3900I I I So I removed the framed gilded feathers and the family crest picture, added the new items and this arrangement works spatially much better on the eye I think.

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That radiator definitely has to be painted in to blend with the wall, that will be done by tonight I am sure as is sticks out like a sore thumb.    I am sure as time passes I will add to the gallery wall with more oddities, but for now I am really happy with the results.

I also added some pieces to the chimney breast wall, some fabulous paper fans I found yesterday at TX Maxx, which are exactly the right colours for the room.  Wow, I love that shop!

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