A public (or private) hanging...

Fortunately in the UK we now prefer hanging art to hanging people (the last public hanging in the UK was in 1868). This is obviously a good thing because, in most cases (taste permitting), art does look much much better when hung (rather than hanged)... so, this week I am going to focus my blog on the 'art of hanging art', or ' wallpapering with frames'... it is worth bearing in mind that there are many different things to consider when hanging art, there are no hard and fast set of rules that you can adhere to and, being 'creative and arty', there are a variety of different existential philosophies that exist on the subject - I am going to introduce a few simple concepts that you may find helpful...

There has been a general trend in recent years towards transforming plain dreary walls into conversation points and destination spots by ‘wallpapering with frames’ (for want of a better phrase) - think about the decor that you see in some modern bars or, as we like to call them these days, ‘gastropubs’ - they are dominated by walls of pictures. Creating this effect can feel like a daunting task (if for no other reason than deciding where to start...) so I am going to outline some simple principles and advice that will hopefully make it a lot easier for you to achieve an effective and impactful result...

As I said, although there are no rules for creating an effective and impactful wall of art, there are some principles that you can follow. For the purposes of this blog I am going to use the image below to try and illustrate this.

(Image from Ikea Wall Art)

Start by laying all the pictures you have available on the floor, preferably in front of the ‘target’ wall... (note - not on the wall itself, as this would be remarkably difficult due for the most part to the universal constant that is gravity, as well as a number of the other fundamental laws of physics)

Choose a central picture for the assembly (this is the best word I can think of to describe it...)
The central picture is the basis for the entire assembly - it doesn't need to be the biggest or the best, but it does need to have some distinctive quality (but it needn't attract the most attention on its own). Surround the central picture with several large pictures to anchor the assembly. For example, you could surround the central picture with four pictures on the X and Y axis. Or alternatively, place a few large pictures in the middle of the assembly to ground things and provide the platform to extend outwards

The pictures on this wall seem to be centred around one picture, with other pictures aligned roughly along the X and Y axis. Take a look at my mark ups.

Lay out the rest of the frames around your anchor point - consider using: Horizontal Lines, Vertical Lines, Diagonal Lines, or, for the super adventurous, cascading from the centre in staggered lines

The pictures in this assembly also to have been organised using a combination of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines...

When arranging the pictures move (for the most part) from large to small as you migrate towards the perimeter
Always allow for more weight or mass on the left - it's just a simple rule of optics (‘weight’ simply means either darkness, size or thickness)
Provide some structure or frame to the assembly by aligning the tops, bottoms and sides of the pictures around the outer edge

In this example the entire set of pictures has been framed to the top, bottom, left and right...

In the final mark up below you can see how these rules have been applied to the majority of the pictures on this assembly...

Once you are happy with the position of the pictures on the floor, cut out newspaper templates of each of the frame sizes and tape to the wall (obviously you have to tape them in the right place or it defeats the objective of the exercise). 

Step back and ensure you are happy with the spacing between the pictures and against the wall space and make any tweaks as required
In order to hang the pictures, determine how far down from the edge of the frame the wire or hook is and then mark an ‘x’ on each of the templates along the centre line. Then simply hammer directly into the ‘x’ on the template, tear the template off the wall and reveal the lonely little nail waiting for its companion picture. Please note, it is not necessarily a good idea to get your husband (or significant other) involved at this stage in the process as it will invariably lead to the appearance of ‘power tools’ (man toys) and at least three visits to B&Q/Homebase (delete as appropriate) - the second visit is often to purchase Polyfilla and a sample pot of paint. 

Finally, when all the hammering is complete and templates removed, hang your art/pictures/frames and simply stand back and enjoy the view...

When you are thinking about the frames and images that you use, it really depends on the look and feel you are trying to create in the space and, obviously, personal taste:

Colour - consider; all white frames, all black frames, a mix of the two, frames that are all the same colour or an eclectic mix of frames which are consistent in terms of colour pallet
Don’t be restricted to artwork - think about framing everyday objects, postcards, maps, children’s artwork or hanging items that are not in a frame to add diversity (I would avoid hanging people as this is now illegal in the UK) So, that’s about it on the ‘art of hanging art’ - as I said, it’s much better than hanging people and probably much more fun. In fact, if you can introduce toilet rolls and sticky backed plastic to the process you could have a genuine Blue Peter project on your hands... just give it a go. At the end of the day, there’s always the Pollyfilla and sample pot of paint if things don’t go exactly to plan...

Below are a few examples of walls that have caught my eye...

(Image from Norwegian Elle Interiør) 

(Image from Living Etc)

(Image from boligmagasinet.dk)


  1. Great walls! I love art displayed in this way.

  2. Also, just wanted to say that I'm a friend of your brothers and he said I should check out your blog - he was singing your praises at the weekend!


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