Australian Art for Mid-Century Spaces

Tim Ross on ABC Televion program Streets Of Your Town, 2016.

When we look closely at classic mid-century homes, we often see carefully curated spaces that convey the tastes, values, and aspirations of their owners. But there is much more to these interiors than furniture and lighting.  Whether it be paintings, ceramics, glass, textiles or sculptures, such art works play a major role in turning a room of vintage pieces into a dynamic interior that invites relaxation and/or contemplation.
So how do you go about choosing art for a mid-century inspired interior? Well that depends on a number of factors, such as room size, budget and personal taste. Everyone is different, therefore it’s important that you embrace your individuality and select artworks that are meaningful to you. Avoid making choices based on colour schemes or matching your furniture. Be bold and trust your judgement.

Sydney Ball, Canto IX, 2002-2003.

Whereas some people like to buy only mid-century artworks, I think it’s good to mix it up. As much as I admire mid-century design, I don’t want to feel like I’m living in a museum. Contemporary art is a great way to add visual interest and at the same time support the creative economy.

Rather than buying prints, always buy original artworks. If you would never buy a copy of a vintage chair, why would you buy a cheap print?Auction houses and artist run spaces are great sources of affordable original artworks.

Buying art is an adventure, be open minded and take the time to learn about art history. The more you learn about art, the more you will appreciate the art in your space. It’s also a good idea to read up on particular artists you like. It’s good to get a sense of the way their work has evolved over the years and what their work is all about. You may find that you only like work from a certain period, or you may just think everything by that artist is simply brilliant. But when it comes to buying that original artwork, only buy what you like, not what you think others might like. Remember, the main thing is that you feel a connection to the work.

David Aspden, Window IV, 1968.

There is original art to fit all tastes and budgets. If you like to collect, then small works on paper are often good value, and are also a great way to build your art collection. If size matters, then look for large works that will compliment your space. Sometimes a collection of small art works on one wall can be just as engaging, and have as much impact as a single large scale work.

If all this talk has got you thinking about art, then check out the fantastic Re-Purpose exhibition at Drill Hall Gallery in Canberra. Re-Purpose runs from Fri 11 November — Sun 18 December 2016 and features work by 3 generations of international and Australian artists. You can also read a review of the exhibition.

Here are just a few of my favourite Australian contemporary artists.

Peter Atkins: EP PROJECT, 2016.

Dana Harris: spoolworks 2010 – 12, yarn spools bound with cotton thread, variable dimensions.

Emma Langridge: Except, 2016 enamel / acrylic on wood
approx 30 x 20cm.


Kenji Uranishi: Momentary, a collection of ceramic works exhibited
at Brisbane Museum.

Momentary, a collection of ceramic works exhibited at Brisbane Museum.


Jane Brown: Outback netball, White Cliffs, New South Wales, 2014/16.


Bryan Spier Multiplicity, 2011 Synthetic polymer on canvas board 30 x 40cm.


C20 – 100 years of Australian art from the TMAG collection

John and Betty
John Brack
oil on canvas

If you just can’t get enough of Australian 20th Century Art and Design,
then you’ll be pleased to know that the Tasmanian Museum and Art
(TMAG) has an exhibition featuring  paintings and decorative
arts from some of Australia’s best artists and designers.

According to the TMAG website, featured artists include Merric Boyd,
Grace Cossington Smith, Russell Drysdale, Ian Fairweather, Donald Friend,
Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Clement Meadmore, Sidney Nolan,
John Perceval, Arthur Streeton, Albert Tucker, Patrick Hall
and Philip Wolfhagen.

I’m told that the gallery have an excellent collection of post-war
furniture, including an extensive collection of pieces designed
by Clement Meadmore. Like any gallery, often most pieces are not
on display, so it’s often a good idea to call the gallery and ask if it’s
possible to make a time to view pieces in their collection that
are in storage.

C20 will be on open to the public from Friday, 17 September 2010
until mid-2011, and admission is free.

So why not grab a cheap flight to Tassie and check out the exhibition.
Make a weekend of it so you can check out the Salamanca Market, which runs
every Saturday 8.30am-3pm at Hobart’s Salamanca Place. Who knows, you may
well find a nice vintage piece.