Choosing Art for the Outdoors – 8 Top Tips

When talking about art for the home, often people mean a painting or print – art that hangs on your wall, able to be enjoyed every time someone’s in or passing through that room. However, there’s an increasing interest in art for the outdoors – not necessarily the kind that hangs on the wall, but sculptures or carvings that add personality and style to gardens and other exterior spaces.

Here are eight top tips when choosing art for your outdoors:

* Look and learn - For inspiration and ideas as to what might look great, visit a sculpture park – dotted throughout New Zealand, some are permanently open to the public, while others are open for just a few weeks a year. Many cities also now have a range of contemporary sculptures installed in public locations. While many of these works may be of larger scale than suitable for domestic purposes, viewing the works will help you hone your taste and learn what is available in New Zealand. A more convenient option is to visit your local art gallery - the gallerist will be able to provide you with information on the styles, sizes, media and prices that apply to outdoor artworks by the gallery’s artists.

* Size matters – Keep in mind what size of work would best suit your outdoor space as well as your budget. A cottage garden or balcony might best suit smaller pieces or works on plinths, while wide open spaces offer scope for installing much larger works.

* Ageing gracefully – Consider how long the work is likely to last, and what changes may occur over time. Works in bronze will last for centuries, but the patina (surface colouring) will change over time if not actively maintained to retain the artist’s chosen patina. Some materials are specifically chosen because of the way in which they change over time. For example, works in Corten steel are designed to deepen in colour with exposure to the environment, as the surface oxidises over time. Unpainted wood may also develop a silvery-grey colouring, which can be very attractive in a garden setting.

* Site it right - Where will the work go? To gain maximum pleasure from the art you love, place it in a spot you view often, or to achieve maximum impact each time you encounter the piece. Large pieces in a prominent spot can be viewed through the windows of your home, while smaller pieces may best be appreciated tucked next to places where you sit or walk past.

* Think of the big picture – For important pieces, consider reshaping your outdoor area to best show off the work. Clearing out a special area, or creating a path leading up to the work, may be effective ways to draw attention to your special piece.

* Mix it up - Don’t be too concerned about trying to match your outdoor art with the style of your garden. The art you live with should be what resonates with you, not something chosen to match your plantings or patio furniture. Focus on how the piece will work in your outdoor environment, rather than been driven by a single design theme.

* Hold steady – Depending on the size and media of the work, it may be appropriate to base it on a concrete pad or plinth (pedestal). Pieces of particular value, or that you don’t intend to move about, should be firmly secured in place.  

* Light at night – If you plan to install the work in an area visible at night, consider whether you may wish to light the work. It is best to consider your lighting options before finalising the location, as different lighting solutions will suit different areas (eg; a sculpture beside a wall that is lit from the ground up may cast shadows onto the wall behind).

For further information contact ZIMMERMAN - www.zimmerman.co.nz / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.