Written by Joanne Barrett
Photography by Kate Alexander
Colours and subject matter often impact our moods and so, on an emotional level, we gravitate towards visual elements that resonate with us, whether pleasing, stimulating or calming.
On a more pragmatic level, questions arise: does an artwork’s genre fit with the architectural style of the home, or the interior décor and furnishings? Does it suit our budget? Does the scale of the artwork in relation to the size of the room need to be considered? Or should the simple adage ‘if you love it, buy it’, be the guide?
I talked with Elliot Alexander, owner of endemicworld® gallery and art print studio on Ponsonby Road, to get his views and tips on choosing and purchasing art for the home. I was interested to know what art he has in his own home and if he had preference for modern, contemporary artworks or leans towards a traditional look.
Elliot says, “I absolutely believe you can mix modern art with antique décor or vice versa and I take the attitude of ‘stuff the rules’.“We have a saying in the gallery ‘drink your whiskey how you want. If you want ice, have ice, if you want it neat, have it neat’. The same goes for art, no-one else needs to like your art collection except you. Personally, I prefer modern contemporary artworks. I’m especially drawn to marine or ocean themed works. There’s something calming about them, they draw me in and connect me to nature.
“My favourite original artwork in my collection, is by Taranaki street artist Milarky. Rendered in black pen and ink on a rough sheet of cotton rag, the illustration is of a kid ‘hooning’ along in a little wooden boat. What I love about it is, it makes me want to go fishing.
“Life is too short to work 60-hour weeks your whole life, so fishing is something I often do solo. Milarky’s illustration gives me a feeling of freedom and that is a big motivator for me. Another favourite is a small painting of a bag of pilchards by Rob Tucker - he knows I’m a mad fisherman.”
Whilst most of the works in Elliot’s collection are modern, he does have a couple of original New Zealand tourism posters from the 1930s which are on long-term loan from his parents. Typographically and pictorially depicted in the eye-catching graphics style typical of the golden age of the travel poster, these posters are quite special and very collectible.
“For most people, art isn’t something you buy often so why rush?” says Elliot. “Enjoy cruising through the galleries and/or going down the rabbit hole of Instagram.”
For many, it’s a lack of art knowledge that can dash confidence, making it difficult to know where to begin. The idea is not to rush into buying an artwork. Elliot says the more art you expose yourself to, the more you will start to realise the styles and artists you like - although over time your tastes are likely to change. It seems everyone wants or expects instant satisfaction, but art isn’t instant and, if you take your time selecting art for your home, you will be rewarded.
I asked Elliot his views on hanging one good ‘wow’ artwork per room, verses filling the walls with a collection of artworks. He says, “There are no rules as to how many or how few artworks you hang. Do what you like, and then change it if your tastes change.
“Villas have big walls and high ceilings and you can easily hang 50 or more paintings in a four to five-bedroom villa, so it pays to check your budget. But I love it when art is the wow factor in a room. It's a personal expression of your style, so make it match you.
“Villa or apartment, your home is your home. So, no matter where you live just make sure you have some art on your walls - that’s the only rule.”
“In my house I have considered placements for most of the art I have collected over the years, but then in one room I hang randomly using pins, tape, nails or screws. I try not to match works, as the house will start to feel like a hotel. Same-same equals boring.
“A combination of prints, photographic works and original artworks creates interest in a home. Check out Rakai Karaitiana’s screen prints. So cool. I want them all; they always sell out. I really like Ben Young sculptures but, as I cannot afford one, I have a giant photographic print of one instead.
“I’m a big fan of Joe Hockley. I recently bought one of his photos - it’s not an edition, it’s a one off. Overall, I lean towards works on paper whether they are prints or originals. Though works on wooden boards can be pretty eye pleasing too. Popular themes right now are birds, nudes, abstracts, botanicals and portraits but, like fashion, we see repeating trends.”
“We love what we do and take the greatest care in providing an enjoyable experience filling people’s walls with cool art.”
Much of the selection of art endemicworld® curates is not found anywhere else. It covers a wide price range. This makes art more accessible, so anybody can own a unique collection. Most prints are open editions, but there is always a selection of hard to get limited edition work, or better still, original paintings from artists who don’t release prints, ever.
Works are sourced from a diverse and talented range of New Zealand and International artists, designers, illustrators, printmakers, painters, street artists, and photographers. endemicworld® doesn’t represent one single artist, operating instead like a partner for artists.
Elliot opened endemicworld® in 2007 as New Zealand’s first online design store and by 2012 it repositioned itself to sell art prints only. It has morphed into a cool Ponsonby Road art gallery where anyone can feel at home with art.