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For 20 years we lived virtually devoid of wall art.

Traditional Canarian walls don't need wall art


When we lived in Tenerife, our interior walls had the bobbled, rough plaster finish which is a feature of traditional Canarian architecture and is not conducive to hanging pictures on. Subsequently, for 13 years the pictures we brought with us from the UK lay behind the wardrobe in the guest bedroom gathering dust and mould.

In Portugal, our house was rented so, apart from using the three existing picture hooks, we couldn’t put anything on the walls there either. Once again, the wardrobe concealed our wall art which by now, was decidedly jaded.

The big move back to Britain initially saw us once again renting and restricted to a handful of existing hooks but at the beginning of this year we moved into our own home and suddenly, we had vast areas of blank wall space to fill.
Instead of being liberating, it was strangely intimidating.

How do you choose wall art?

I don’t know anything about art, I’m not a collector and I never will be, so I won’t spend silly money acquiring wall art. On the other hand, I want to look at pictures that are intriguing or beautiful or make us happy or mean something to us.

The open plan living/dining room seemed the obvious, and most visible place to start. I wanted to hang something big and dramatic over the fireplace to provide a focal point, but I couldn’t find anything I thought fit the bill. Our house was built on the site of the old village forge, so I wanted to have a colour scheme in the lounge that vaguely reflected that theme – red, burnt orange, smoky grey. Eventually I found something I thought was ideal.

“Look at this, what do you think?” I excitedly showed Jack the large canvas. “It makes me think of the city in the sky in Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land.”
“I really like it but it’s too big”, came his disappointing response.

Abstract wall art above the fireplace

I wasn’t convinced it was too big and thought we should take the gamble; we could always hang it somewhere else if we had to, there’s no shortage of wall space. But it was important that we both bought into something that would dominate our home, so we simply hung our Memories of Avignon picture there while the hunt continued. When the search remained fruitless, I simply ordered the large canvas.

It’s perfect. And Jack loves it. Result.

Wall art in the frame

On a trip to Singapore many years ago, Jack and I picked up Chinese copies of two of Joyce Roybal’s acrylic on canvas pictures. I doubt if we paid more than a fiver for them. My brother had a couple of Roybals that I’d coveted for years but Jack never liked them. The Singapore copies never got framed and had travelled to Tenerife and Portugal before returning with us once more to the UK, naturally now a tad worse for wear.

With so many blank walls to fill, it was finally time to get them wall-ready. I dug out a few more items that needed framing, including our certificates from walking the Camino de Santiago in 2021, and a poster of the Los Indianos fiesta from La Palma that we’d picked up a couple of months ago, and headed to the framing shop in Wellington.

Joyce Roybal copy


I clearly had very unreal expectations about the cost of framing because I nearly choked when the guy quoted £90 to frame the La Palma poster we’d been given for free. The Roybals were going to cost the same – each – while the certificates came in around the £75/£80 each mark. We decided to look for a cheap frame for the La Palma poster and we dropped one of the Roybals. The rest we went ahead and ordered.

It’s cheaper than buying art, we consoled ourselves.

A week or so later we collected our framed wall art and it’s superb, worth every penny. I’m now thinking I might go back and have the second Roybal framed too.

Wall art is like buses…

… you wait ages for one and then three come along together.

A visit back to Stockport gave us a chance to pick up a detailed pictorial history of Stockport’s rich music heritage. Not only is the picture a link to my hometown and to the music that influenced my formative years, but it’s also the work of our niece, Emily Flanagan, who designed the covers of both The Banana Road and Camel Spit & Cork Trees. Like the Roybals and the Camino de Santiago certificates, it’s more than just a piece of wall art, it represents a part of our lives and says something about who we are.

Stockport Music Map


Then a chance visit to a garden centre turned up some paintings that we both instantly loved. The Roots of Time by Ulyana Hammond, an unglazed, abstract painting of trees embellished with vintage-style watch faces, we bought immediately. Admiring the whimsical beauty of their Gary Walton collection, I could easily have bought several, but their price tags were intimidating to say the least. I decided we should save up for one.

A week later we were wandering the streets of York just as shops were closing and spotted a Gary Walton original in a gallery. It was more than £2000 but there was also a good collection of his prints, and they were a fraction of the cost we’d seen them at in the garden centre. We chose one, paid to have it shipped back home, and saved £170 into the bargain.

Another result.

Now, for the first time in 20 years, we have wall art we love… and still loads of empty walls to fill.


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