Designer Desire: Ken Law

Mosaic of Ken Law artworks | H is for Home

I’ve had a great response from people about my early birthday present, an original painting by Ken Law (1919-1988) entitled, “Oldham Landscape”. I thought I’d look into and share more of his wonderful artworks as this week’s Designer Desire.

For years, there was absolutely no information about Ken on the internet. Then his son John came across an online forum of people all over the world who either appreciated or owned examples of his work. John filled in a few details (one being to confirm that Ken Law the LSO cellist and Ken Law the artist were indeed the same person!). The family still own many of his works and two of the forum members visited Ken’s widow and photographed some of them. These have been shared on the forum.

A dedicated website has been created by Ken’s grandson however, other than some background information, just over half a dozen or so images of his oils and watercolours have been uploaded.

Portrait of Ken Lawcredit

Additional image credits:

20th Century Forum | Deerfieldpb | Flickr | Ken Law

Ken Law Oldham Landscape original

Original Ken Law Oldham Landscape, etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

We’ve mentioned a few times previously that we love the work of artist Ken Law – and have a small collection of his 1960s prints – Hampstead High Street, Tower Bridge and New York Bridges, to date. Well, I was browsing a well-known online auction website a couple of weeks ago – and did a quick search for Ken Law to see if any of his vintage prints were currently for sale. My jaw dropped when this original oil painting appeared before my eyes – only just listed. Straight away I thought, “Oooooh, early 50th birthday present?!”.

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

The painting depicts Oldham – a Lancashire (now Greater Manchester) mill town about 15 miles from here. Perhaps former mill town might be more accurate now; at its peak, it was the largest cotton-spinning town in the world. Justin grew up in the neighbouring town of Rochdale and often went to Oldham on Tommyfield’s flea market day – and for nights out in his youth! So this landscape is very much in his psyche – and mine too, as an honorary Northerner, residing here for nearly 20 years now.

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

It’s a classic Northern Industrial scene – factories, terraced houses, chimneys – the Pennine moors in the distance. This picture captures it on a winter’s day, sun low in the sky, snow covering the rooftops and vehicles slipping & sliding down the hill!

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

Ken used oil on gesso – the surface being painted, scratched and gouged. It’s full of character and texture. We’re still researching, but we think that this painting was exhibited at The Royal Academy in the late 1960s.

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

By this point, you’ll realise that we can describe it quite accurately and have taken lots of photos – yes, it did become my 5oth birthday present – it arrived today!

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', showing signature, etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

I just couldn’t let the opportunity for a genuine Ken Law depicting favourite subject matter slip through my fingers. There are certainly no regrets now it’s arrived – it makes me happy just looking back at the photos in this post.

Reverse of original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

Much loved already – I’ll always remember when it came to live with us. A real birthday treat!

 Original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 with jug of flowers | H is for Home

Ken Law Brooklyn Bridge print

Ken Law Brooklyn Bridge print with vintage West German vases | H is for Home

In our last Ken Law inspired post, we mentioned that we were on the lookout for a copy of his ‘New York’ print. Well, our wait is over!

Vintage Ken Law Brooklyn Bridge print showing signature | H is for Home

We bought this cute little example last week – for the bargain price of £1. The stylised river, bridge and skyline scene is classic Ken Law. We love how he creates an image incorporating a series of coloured ‘blocks’. It’s so imaginative and distinctive.

Vintage Ken Law Brooklyn Bridge print | H is for Home

Despite only being small, it still grabs your attention as you turn a corner on our landing. We’ve hung it alongside a group of vintage West German vases. We thought the styles and colours worked very well together. One of our last foreign trips (pre Fudge) was a fabulous ten-day holiday in New York – so, in addition to being an eye-catching decorative piece, it’s a lovely reminder of some great days sightseeing, shopping and drinking cocktails in El Quijote!

Vintage beaten copper plaque

Vintage beaten copper plaque above the bed in our top-floor bedroom | H is for Home

Last week, we published a post about our recent decorating exploits – specifically our top floor bedroom and its shades of grey and black. At that point, there was a large space above the bed waiting for a suitable piece of art. We’d mentioned that there are lots of things relating to nature in the room – and also copper highlights dotted about. Imagine our joy when we found this gorgeous vintage 1960s beaten copper plaque at a local flea market this week.

Tail detail from vintage beaten copper plaque | H is for Home

The first thing we saw peaking out were the feathers. “Oh, that looks interesting!”, we thought…

Head detail from vintage beaten copper plaque | H is for Home

…and, as we pulled it towards us for a better look, the bird’s head was revealed.

Vintage beaten copper artwork above the bed in our top-floor bedroom | H is for Home

We absolutely love it – the stylised bird, so typical of the era, the materials used, texture, patina and colours. We thought we’d be waiting quite a while to fill that long, narrow space with something suitable – but a few days after taking the initial photos, there it appeared. We very nearly missed the market that day too, but fortunately fate intervened!

Designer Desire: Rosslyn Ruiz

Mosaic of Rosslyn Ruiz abstract artworks | H is for Home

A couple of weeks ago a fellow vintage dealer posted a photo on Instagram of an artwork they owned. Straight away I recognised the artist’s work – we also own one of her paintings. Her name is Rosslyn Ruiz… and it was the first time we learned of her full name.

Ruiz tended to sign her work merely ‘Rosslyn’ hence the reason we couldn’t find out anything about her before that fateful day. Ever since then, I’ve been on a quest to find out more about her and other examples of her work.

After quite a few Google searches, I stumbled upon a photo taken of the back of one of her paintings on which a label was stuck with the following inscription:

Rosslyn Ruiz was born in London in 1935. She is completely self-taught and began painting professionally in 1960 working with most recognised mediums and unconventional ones as well.

Her need to ‘create without rules’ has enabled her to explored and expand her techniques in texture and form. By combining holograms and collage with more traditional materials she creates contemporary paintings and has developed a unique style that demonstrates excitement and free spirit.

Rosslyn has had many successful exhibitions in Europe, America and Spain. She became well recognised in the 60s after her work was purchased by celebrities such as John Lennon, Jaqui Dupre, Thora Hird, Haley Mills, Jack Palance and Charles Bronson.

She appears to be still practising and is currently a member of Ely Art Society.

Additional image credits:

MyPlanet72

Home decoration: How to use framed art the right way

Framed art above a desk

Purchasing and hanging framed art in your home so that it makes a good design statement is as much an art form as it is an expression of the things you love. You may choose framed pieces in similar colour schemes or maybe one or two pieces in an accent colour to add interest or to brighten up a dull room. In this article, we’re going to give you a few tips for hanging your purchased pieces.

1. UV and heat protection

Framed art on a radiator

UV light will eventually fade your artwork so try and hang it on walls that don’t get much direct sunlight. Heat and humidity can also cause damage to your framed pieces over time so avoid hanging in humid environments such as bathrooms or even the kitchen. Alternatively, if you do want some pictures in these rooms swap them with other pieces on a regular basis so they’re not exposed to the heat and humidity for extended periods.

2. Effectively group your art work

two rows of framed black & white artworks

Grouping smaller pieces together can be a very effective home décor design feature. Before you hang your pictures, lay them out on the floor in the way you’d like to hang them on the wall. Try to maintain some kind of symmetry by creating a rectangular or square display and space your frames about 3 to 4 inches apart.

Once you’ve laid your artwork out on the floor and you’re happy with the display, cut out paper templates of each frame and tape these to the wall so that you’ll get an exact idea of how the finished collection will look. Mark the picture hook locations with a pencil and then you’re ready to hang your art.

3. Make sure the pieces are consistent with your home décor

Framed oil painting above fireplace

You want the selected pieces of framed art to reflect your own personal style and also add character and charm to your home.

Before purchasing any piece of artwork, look around your home to evaluate what kind of pictures would best suit your décor. Consider your dominating colour scheme and your available wall space. You want your art pieces to compliment your décor, not dominate it. You can find a huge collection of interesting and eclectic framed artwork from places like Fine Art America which are sure to suit your particular decorating style.

4. Mount your framed art at the correct height

trio of framed artworks hung at different heights

To maintain the symmetry of your room and its furniture, ensure that you hang your artwork at the correct height. In standard 8-foot ceiling rooms, the middle of your picture should be about 5 feet off the wall. If your room has higher ceilings, you can hang your artwork a little higher.

If you’re hanging a picture above a sofa, it’s a good idea to leave a space of approximately 6 to 8 inches between the bottom of the frame and the top of the sofa. If hanging above a tabletop, you should leave a space of about 10 to 12 inches but this can be adjusted to account for lamps or other display pieces on the table.

Conclusion

Art on the floor propped against a wall

To make the most of your framed art pieces it’s important that you choose and hang them correctly. Choose pieces that not only match your personal style but your home décor as well. Consider the light, heat and humidity of each room before choosing pieces that you want to hang.

Group smaller pieces of art in a nice symmetrical shape by using paper templates to first consider their positioning and ensure that you hang your favourite art pieces at the correct height so that it’s pleasing to the eye.

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