A well-designed interior can take years to perfect; furniture, fabrics, bespoke joinery, that perfect shade of paint. Art, however, whilst one of the first elements to be noticed, is often one of the last to be chosen. Patrick McCrae, founder of art consultancy ARTIQ, dresses a Skyline Collection apartment at Woodberry Down with works by local East London artists, and explains how art plays a big part in making a house a home.
Patrick set up ARTIQ in November 2009 to help support the arts; at the heart of its mission is to provide artists fair pay. Patrick explains his motivation, “the global financial crisis meant that art budgets were being slashed, but at the same time there was an increase in people entering the art and design sector, so a vacuum started to form; there was less money available but more artists. The mantra of ARTIQ was to marry beautiful art with beautiful spaces, and to really tap into undiscovered local talent.” ARTIQ sells and rents artworks to the residential sector, hotels and workplaces, as well as private clients. With 200 million pieces of artwork now in their collection, the team represent over 100 artists directly – from emerging artists fresh out of university to more established names.
ARTIQ believes that art can and should inspire design and interiors, so advises choosing a collection early on. “Art always has a story,” says Patrick, “it can enhance the architectural form, give aesthetic relevance, and importantly, tell the story of you and your life. Every artist produces art for a reason, but the question is, what does the work mean to you – what is its relevance?” Patrick admits that finding the balance between sentimentality or self-expression and aesthetic compatibility can be tricky, but doesn’t think people should get too caught up in the details, “Sometimes it can be boring if everything is ‘matchy matchy’. Have the confidence to try more interesting colour ways – complementary colours can be exciting.” For Patrick, the storytelling supersedes aesthetics, “If you’re at home and someone asks you about a piece of art on the wall, do you talk about how the piece reflects the subtle blush of your upholstery or do you tell the story of where you were when you bought it and how it makes you feel?” That said, “the beauty of having your own place is that the decisions are in your hands; this is your home!”
“We need art in our daily lives – it helps define us.”QUOTE: Patrick McCrae, ARTIQ
There’s meaning behind Patrick’s selection of works (overleaf): Jacob Eaton’s creative units ‘Blue Red Cross’ and ‘Navy Lemon’ play with interaction, and explore the impact of marks in small spaces. Their placement at either side of the bed allude to the individual characters within the home, whilst Maxwell’s landscape pieces, with their amazing depth, resonate well with the Woodberry Down landscape; ‘Forager 2’ alludes to the reeds and wilderness of the nature reserve and ‘Chromium’ to the reflective qualities of the reservoirs. Julie Umerle’s large-scale abstract landscape ‘Latitude II’ creates rich texture and bold colour which compliments the blues and yellows in Mark Maxwell’s works well, whilst Rosanna Dean’s pieces, (adjacent) with muted colour schemes, express delicacy and speak of sensual femininity, making them more suitable for the bedroom.
If you’re on a low budget, Patrick has a number of suggestions. “Identify the most prominent areas when placing art if you have fewer pieces, and look for works with reflective surfaces as they can be more impactful; Maxwell’s paintings on aluminum, for example, create an ethereal shimmer which brings light into the room.” He continues, “Use the existing surfaces within the apartment too, such as mirrors and reflective surfaces, to create the illusion of multiple works.” ARTIQ’s rentals are also an option – art goes in and out of fashion, so renting art can be good for refreshing the space as pieces can be updated every six months to a year. If you fall in love with a rental piece, however, you can always offset the sales price with the rental fees.
Patrick has a few top tips for art in the home, “It’s all in the presentation – framing is important. Be mindful not to contradict the art in any one room, for example avoid loud pieces next to austere, tertiary palettes,” he advises, “and consider lighting – pieces really do come to life when they’re lit properly. Directional spotlights are a simple solution.”