“Lighting has a direct impact on the atmosphere of a room,” explains Andrew Molyneux, founder of TM Lighting – the London-based lighting specialist responsible for Christian Louboutin boutiques, Apsley House and the Hyatt Regency’s Churchill bar (designed by Spinocchia Freund). This is true of lighting art as well.
Andrew’s company, which he founded with Harry Triggs, is responsible for the reinvention of the classic but somewhat outdated picture light. Their creations are timeless but sleek and discreet and guarantee that your art will look the part without it negatively impacting your interior.
“Choosing artwork is a very personal process that often elicits an emotional response,” Harry says, “It is important to spend time thinking about the best way to present and showcase the work once you take it home so that the experience continues beyond the gallery.”
Here the qualified duo (“name an artist and we have most likely lit a work by them”) give their top five tips for how to do just that.
1. Visualise the art in your space
“It helps to visualise the space like a theatre stage and to handpick pieces in the space that will become focal points in order to create life and movement. You can create drama with the way you illuminate specific [art] pieces.”
2. Choose your technique
“Three easy techniques achieve very different atmospheres in the room:
1. Casual solution: Pick out a key picture within the group and light only this and let the light spill onto other works.
2. Intermediate solution: Use accent lights to project a pool of light onto the group of artworks.
3. Serious collection solution: Light every piece specifically using individual lights per artwork.
With all of these solutions, we recommend creating a secondary layer of vertical illumination, this provides the warmth of the reflected colour of the artwork into the room and adds depth to your lighting scheme.”
3. Fit the lighting to your style
“Lighting is dependent on the artwork and its environment. In a contemporary environment, there may be more flexibility to use a discreet track and spotlight solution. This will give greater flexibility in the lighting scheme particularly if the client has a rolling/curated art collection.
In a classical setting, consider using picture lights instead of spotlights. Both have their own benefits but the use of picture lights provides a more precise lighting tool in comparison with spotlights, which can create scallops of light above the artwork.
4. Match the finish to your room
“The finish of the lights should be considered. If using picture lights, consider using a finish to match other features in the room such as door handles and other light fixtures. Alternatively, match the finish of the picture light to the frame or wall colour in order to create a subtle, seamless look. All solutions will work equally well in both settings if the finishes are correctly selected for the environment.”
5. Consider your medium
“When lighting 3D artwork and sculpture, use spotlights in specific positions working with light and shadow in order to accent the form of the sculpture. Poorly positioned lighting on sculpture can completely change the intent of a piece – a face could look sad or happy just from an incorrectly positioned light.”
Top tips for art care
Be careful of positioning
“Avoid positioning artwork in natural light that is high in UV radiation during the morning and high in Infrared radiation during the evening,” says Andrew, “These wavelengths are outside of the visible light spectrum but are damaging to delicate pigments in artworks. Therefore hanging in a position where light spills directly from the window onto the canvas can fade artwork.”
Only use LEDs
“In the past, art was lit with halogen and other incandescent light sources, emitting infrared, ultraviolet and a great deal of heat – a harmful combination that is incredibly damaging to paintings, oils and particularly delicate colour pigments
The principal benefit of using LEDs is that the harmful rays are minimised. This is crucial when lighting delicate items such as watercolour paintings or textiles and fabrics over a sustained period of time.
LED products have the added benefit of dramatically reducing energy consumption and maintenance costs. The benefits of LEDs supersede those of any other light source.”