From ancient caves, to Renaissance palaces and post-modern masterpieces, humans have been adorning the walls of their dwellings with art. Not only does it enhance the beauty of a home, but it’s also important for our emotional wellbeing. We chat to two prominent Melbourne artists about decoration, aesthetics and inspiration in the below video.
John Taylor set out studying art history, English and philosophy at Melbourne University, and took private lessons, but it was a travelling scholarship to New York, achieved by his partner Aileen, that solidified his passion for art. Upon returning to Australia, he progressed from teaching the discipline to immersing himself in it. Now preparing for his fourteenth exhibition in ten years, John’s work can regularly be seen at Lumen Gallery in South Melbourne, and in homes across the Australia.
Abby Innes’s path began with an interest that found its outlet through studies in architecture and photography, but eventually turned to creating her own pieces after the birth of her daughter in 1998. The result is a series of unique work that has gained Abby much respect for her individual style, a series of sell out solo shows and numerous ongoing private commissions. Her paintings of girls are faceless with their hands demurely clasped behind their backs. Her love for architecture also led her to her current role as a Sales Assistant at RT Edgar.
How can art contribute to the aesthetic in a home?
JOHN: Paintings on a wall obviously set the vibe, the atmosphere, and that hard-to-define factor, that sets the other facets of a room into a harmonious, yet dynamic whole. The interiors that most interest me are the ones that utilise art and fine furniture to make a really interesting statement about the occupants. Significant interiors have this sophistication where a major art work sets a space alight. Iconic magazines such as The World of Interiors and the American Architectural Digest also pay emphasis to fine antiques, which in themselves share the intellectual tradition of the time, and reflect past lives and style.
ABBY: Artwork brings colour and personality to a room. It is self evident, if you go into an empty room it feels cold and uninviting: void of any substance and there is nothing to engage with. But as soon as your attention is drawn to a painting, it provides a focal point, something to reflect upon, and provoke thought or ignite feelings. It can ultimately lift your spirits.
Should you style your interiors around artwork, or style your rooms then understand what artwork will work best?
ABBY: I believe there are no rules when it comes to decorating your home with art. Whether you purchase a painting because you really love it and then style the room around it, or you, or select a piece of artwork to complement a room you have already styled, it doesn’t really matter. Both can lead to exceptionally beautiful spaces.
JOHN: Most people try to match a painting to their existing décor. But by choosing a piece of artwork and then taking inspiration from the artist’s palette to work your way through your own colour scheme lets you create something individual and poignant.
How would you describe your style? Who are your influences, and what are your inspirations?
JOHN: If you look at one of my paintings, especially an oil, you will quickly see someone who is love with paint and colour. Behind this is a journey, beginning with an inspiration and a considerable grappling with form, tone and composition – everything that is essential in a two-dimensional art work. The end product is an abstraction, where I hope that the sense of atmosphere, of time and timelessness, and psychological truth hold up. Thankfully, I have never lost a love of literature and poetry and I believe there is some sort of correlation in my paintings to how a wordsmith labours to get a poem right.
ABBY: Certainly the greatest influence in my art was the birth of my daughter. Not only did that wonderful event give me the impetus to realise my artistic expression through painting, but also inspired me to explore childhood emotion and life in my art. This ultimately led to my first major exhibitions: The Wonderment of Girls in 2006 and The Enchantment of Youth a year later. My artworks are of mixed medium, with the use of acrylic on canvas and collage.
What are your most notable projects?
ABBY: My artwork hangs in family homes and private collections and I have exhibited in Australia and Hong Kong. To date I have presented four solo exhibitions and been involved in numerous group exhibitions and competitions, here and abroad.
JOHN: Four years ago I was lucky enough to connect with Martin Allen. His showrooms in South Melbourne are a treasure trove of extraordinary antiques and objet d’art. The task of contrasting and juxtaposing artworks with his furniture is a complicated yet highly enjoyable one. I would have never thought that one of my abstract arrangements would complemented a 17th century William And Mary sideboard, but a photo of that pairing featured in Melbourne’s Vault magazine.
See for yourself
Lumen Gallery in South Melbourne is presenting a semi-autobiographical exhibition of John Taylor works,
launching Saturday 19th November. “Memories, visions, relationships, musings: the main seven works and on oils on canvas and are highly enthusiastic in the possibilities of paint, texture and colour.” Supporting this is an arrangement of works on paper using gouache and acrylic.