What to do with all that artwork?

Hong Kong. No doubt: there runs a pretty prolific artistic streak in my family. Artwork (finished or not) can be found in every nook and cranny of our place. Once in a while my husband and I try to get rid of some of it since if art turns into untidy piles of colourful clutter or crumbles upon touching its toothpasty or sandy surface, it ceases to be enjoyable … believe me!

Children's Art

Inundating the apartment: artwork galore!

Now, getting rid off pieces where its creator does not feel particularly invested in or which are just plain hideous is one thing, but what about the other stuff? What about all those great art works brimming with primary colours and put on stretched canvas? What about all those  paintings that have taken many art lessons to complete and are/were once the pride of your beloved child? Yes, you get it … you cannot simply put them in a box (or worse: trash) and forget about them. Nor do you want to …

Over the years, we have come up with a few ideas of how to mitigate the problem. The best solution, of course, is always to encourage the children to turn their newest master piece into a birthday/Christmas/Easter/“you name it”- gift for  grandparents, favourite aunts/uncles, teachers or friends. That works to a certain extent. But, unfortunately, it does not really solve the problem when you see a new canvas arriving every week.

So here are some other ideas. If you have some as well, please post them as a comment to this note! Rest assured, you will make a lot of spaced-deprived Hong Kong parents very happy!

Create an art wall. If you are in the lucky position to have a large, bare, white wall (for example one, that leads into the basement, a staircase wall, or even the garage), beautify it with all the colourful paintings you have collected over the years. If they are of the kind that’s stretched on canvas, you don’t even need to frame them. Just hang them there – all together – for everyone to see! It’s fun.

Cross section of FLW like

Cross section of FLW like “picture shelf”

Build an art shelf. The originator of this idea is actually nobody else than Frank Lloyd Wright. To display the extensive art collection of one of his clients, he invented a shelf that can hold art in a stacked way. The individual (cantilevered) shelf boards are fairly deep (~ 280mm) and have a “lip” (20-30mm high) at the front edge so that the canvases cannot slide off. The shelf’s width depends on the space you have available and the thickness of the shelf board is a matter of style and taste. I prefer them fairly thick (about 100mm), but there is no reason why thinner ones shouldn’t look good either. Other than that the canvases are just casually leaning against the wall and against each other. (Put the bigger pieces behind the smaller ones).  Of course, in the end you won’t be able to see every single one in its full glory, but that’s besides the point. They are still neatly displayed and easy to access for everyone who is interested!

Take pictures, create a photo book, and store the originals away in a box. Clearly, this is the most space saving method so far. If the photo book is of coffee table quality it even lends itself for decorative purposes. You can create a photo book for each child, go chronologically and do annual “art yearbooks,” or go by motif (animals, landscapes, minions, you name it),  … the possibilities are endless. The disadvantage, of course, is that the originals are out of reach and with them their texture and immediate link back to the time when they were first proudly presented to you …

Going forward (and when your children are a bit older) you may want to think about going the digital way. My daughter Natasha, for example, is producing a lot of her art now on a graphic tablet … Storing digital art is a piece of cake although I must admit that we have recently ordered a print on canvas of one of Natasha’s works since we felt it should be rescued from the ‘eternal darkness’ of her hard drive  and displayed in the open for everyone to see!



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