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How To Hang Your Art At Home

As part of our IWC Schaffhausen Masterclass series, artist Mr George Byrne demonstrates the best way to display your chosen pieces

Mr George Byrne, it is safe to say, is a man who has a special feeling for time and place. In his colour-soaked photographic artwork, which largely focuses on his adopted hometown of Los Angeles (he’s originally from Sydney), he captures fleeting moments of beauty created by accidents of light and architecture, discovering graphic compositions in the way shadows fall on the side of a building, or how a yellow bollard pops against a white wall.

His work has made him not just Insta-famous (his personal account @george_byrne has more than 94,000 followers, and counting), but seen him exhibit internationally, with recent projects including a residency at Halcyon House – the spectacular hotel on Cabarita Beach, New South Wales – and his first New York solo show, New Order at Olsen Gruin gallery, which opened in September. In addition to the many awards and distinctions he has been honoured with in his career – including a Head On NSW Landscape prize for 2017 – he is also a member of MR PORTER’s Style Council, which means he is a man whose travel recommendations you can rely on.

So then, to the tricky (and somewhat mystical) practice of hanging art, and how to get it right. As soon as we began to discuss the topic with Mr Byrne, it became clear that he knows how to work a room. Below (and in the video above), we’ve collected his tips for turning your uninspiring home into a veritable gallery of wonder.

01. Work with your space

One of the first things Mr Byrne recommends, when choosing artworks to hang in a room, is to be sympathetic to its architectural style. “If you are in an older house, that might lend itself to more traditional work,” he says. “If you’re in a modern, say mid-century house, that gives you much more scope to hang modern work alongside traditional work.” Of course, these parameters are flexible. If you have your heart set on a particular work, you can always redecorate the space to suit, says Mr Byrne. “Nothing is fixed,” he says. “If you have a really nice painting that doesn’t suit the room, paint the room.”

02. Go for art that makes you think

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the main criterion for choosing art to hang in your home is that it looks nice. This is important, of course, but Mr Byrne would encourage you to remember that you’re going to have to look at whatever you pick for a long time. It’s better, therefore, to find pieces that have something enigmatic about them. “If there is an element of complexity or intrigue to the work, that can lead to an image that you might want to have around for a long period of time,” he says.

03. Think about the light

In a gallery setting, curators and technicians have the luxury of working together to create custom lighting arrangements that benefit particular works. That’s all a bit much for the home, though. Instead, you should think about places where the light falls, and how this light might change throughout the day. If the rising sun hits a particular wall in your living room, this might be a good place to hang a piece that will make you smile in the morning. “Different works can have different impacts at different times of the day, depending on where the light is falling,” says Mr Byrne. “These are the things you should look to when you’re deciding which works to hang where.”

Mr George Byrne wears an IWC Schaffhausen Pilot’s Top Gun 46mm