Last night saw the return of Grand designs on Channel 4.
Like many others this is compulsory viewing in our house. Primarily because I am always astounded at the bravery (sometimes blind bravery) of the protagonists and their incredible plans, resilience and eventual outcome. The programme rarely disappoints.
Last night was no exception as couple Kay Ralph and Rob Hodgson built a beautiful, modern house right on the edge of a precarious clay cliff in North Wales. Remembering the storms of last Winter, my heart was in my mouth as I watched, thinking "this can't possibly end well". I was completely convinced that their estimate of 60 years of erosion before the sea would swallow the house would be ruined in that one storm in Dec13.
There was a lot of damage but the couple were eventually granted planning permission by the council to add clay soil to the eroded cliff. The idea being, they couldn't do anything structural to the cliff, but the earth they had dug out for their own foundations could then be deposited onto the cliff to "buy" them a few more years worth of erosion.
Like Kevin McCloud, I hope that mother nature is kind to them and they get to enjoy their beautiful home for years to come.
Early on in their project they had 'grand designs' on decorating their space with select pieces of art. Their white box is the perfect place to hang artworks. They went massively over budget, leaving no spare cash for cruising around London art galleries to get something special. No matter; the works of art were from friends and Rob even created his own version of a Mondrian painting, using the plans of the house as inspiration. The outcome was brilliant.
This couple were lucky enough to have artists as friends and some artistic talent of their own. But what about everyone else? What do they do about acquiring something beautiful for their home? Is it true that most people are so intimidated by the art world that they settle for prints, rather than real art. Are we completely convinced that we'll be ripped off by a gallery so we settle for something mass produced and disposable?
The thing is there are plenty of really talented artists out there who don't charge the earth for something wonderful. You'd be amazed at the quality of art that you'd be able to commission for only a few hundreds of pounds (not thousands, or hundreds of thousands).
With carefully chosen artwork you can have a really beautiful space. It takes real courage and skill to use strong colours on your walls and we all know that a dark colour needs about 8 coats of paint to cover it up when you want to get rid of it! But if you have white walls everywhere ( which is a very cheap and easy way to brighten up your house) you can then commission a nice big canvas and change the mood of the room completely. It can also be completely unique, uncopyable and highly enviable. Commission an artist to paint the view you wish you had, or to use the colour you wish you had the courage to use, or to create a mood or feeling in the room that you desire. Dynamic for the kitchen, calm for the bedroom; whatever you want! And you get to take it with you when you move house!
Go and have a look at unknown, comtempory artists, working in your area or via the internet and treat yourself to a select work of art, at an affordable price. You won't regret it!