One of the best things about winning an Amara Interior Blog Award last year was the incredible winner’s goody bag. So overflowing with goodies was it, in fact, that I had to leave half of it at a mate's house in London as I couldn't get it all on the plane.
Luckily, the best thing in the goodie bag was actually the lightest: a £300 voucher to spend on Rise Art’s website that fitted nicely in my handbag. The Pink House Husband and I were very pleased with this generous gift; we always talk about adding to our art collection but life, Netflix and a complete inability to agree tend to get in the way. Not this time! With this £300 voucher, expiry date 31 December 2016, we were being forced to clear space in our diaries, come to a creative compromise and make a decision on a piece of art we both liked. Excellent.
When I woke up on 1 January 2017, the first thing I said (nay, screeched), was: “Oh my God! We forgot to use the art voucher!” What numpties.
As soon as my modest hangover had sufficiently subsided, I emailed the extremely helpful people at Rise Art, confessed my crapness, and begged for a voucher extension. Luckily, they were able to give me an extra week during which to schedule an aesthetic stand-off with PHH. Phew.
Sunday 8 January (nothing like cutting it fine - twice). The small Pink House Dwellers are in bed, dinner has been eaten, there's nothing on Netflix and the scene is set for Art Choosing.
ME *encouragingly*: OK, so what else do you need to be ready for the Art Choosing?
PHH *on green sofa, staring at his phone*: Peppermint tea. And to finish reading this article about Begbie.
ME: As in Begbie off of Trainspotting.
There is a long pause, while Pink House Husband stares at his phone some more. Then he produces something from behind a cushion and puts it in his mouth.
ME: What’s that you’re eating?
ME: You didn’t mention that in your list of things to do before Art Choosing; ‘eat Yorkie’ wasn’t mentioned at all.
PHH munches on, entirely phone-focussed. I put the kettle on and make two cups of peppermint tea in our pink and blue Pantone mugs. While this is in progress, PHH ceases staring at his phone on the sofa, comes to sit at the kitchen table and starts staring at his laptop. I place the pink mug of tea next to him.
PPH * still staring at laptop*: I’ve done it.
ME *suspiciously*: You’ve done what?
PHH: I’ve found the art we should have. There. We’re finished.
He sits back in his chair, sighing contentedly. I look at the screen. There’s a semi-abstract (is that an art term? Let’s say it is) painting in muted colours. It’s called Sky Flair and it’s by Alison Johnson (see above). It’s not doing it for me. Sorry Alison.
ME: Why this one?
PHH *looking surprised*: Why not?
ME: Well for starters it’s a bit boring. There’s not enough colour.
PHH *sternly*: Enough colour for what? For where? Remember, we’re buying this art to go in an unknown house we haven’t bought in an unknown location in London. So there’s quite enough colour. For all of us.
(NB: if you haven’t heard, we're moving back to London in the summer and are in the process of buying/selling properties – as PHH indicates, we are very early on in the process)
ME: But it doesn’t go with anything in our house.
PHH *patiently*: It’s not for THIS house.
ME *frustratedly*: But it doesn’t go with any of the STUFF in our house. And that same stuff will come with us to our next house.
There is a pause. PHH appears to be thinking.
PHH: OK then. So what do you reckon?
ME: About what? Art in general?
PHH doesn’t reply. He is clicking away and staring at the laptop again.
PHH: I’m trying to narrow it down a bit. There – now I’m only searching for artworks costing between £100 and £500.
ME: But there are still 2588 artworks. Can we narrow the search some more?
PHH *tapping away*: Okaaay. So I’m now searching for art up to 1.5m wide. Hmm. We still have 2500 artworks.
He carries on tapping, clicking and frowning at the screen. It’s time I took control.
ME: So you want to know what I think about art? I like my art to be contemporary, bright and irreverent. I like typography. And pop culture. You know – stuff like adverts and graffiti and fashion shoots. Stuff with the Queen's face scrubbed out - you know. And it has to be colourful and fun.
I am aware I sound like a bit of a dick, but I'm in my late 30s, so I don't care. I like what I like.
PHH clicks on ‘Pop Art’ in the Style menu. Immediately the screen is a riot of colour and instantly I feel more at home. PHH starts scrolling through the artworks. A bright blue image of half a dog dripping with paint catches my eye.
ME: Yes – I like that. I’m not really into dogs but I could see that working really well above a Victorian mantelpiece. You know – contrasting with cornicing, a colour pop against a dark wall…like something in Livingetc...
These words are falling on deaf ears; PHH simply tunes out the moment I start with the styling fantasies/twattish chat. He continues scrolling in silence, faster this time.
ME: Hey – stop – not so fast; can we go back to the colourful drippy paintings?
PHH *decisively*: No.
ME: OK. No drippy ones.
ME: Are we just going have to spend £150 each?
PHH: That could work. But yours might get accidentally damaged when we move house.
I move to take control of the laptop.
PHH *menacingly (or as menacingly as a ginger man looking at art on the internet can manage)*: Gerroffit – I’m the driver.
He clicks on a work by Kristjana S Williams called Hvit Ljosabox Gold Leaf Circle. The screen fills with vivid pinks, purples and greens, against a round gold background.
ME: Ooh I like that. The gold. The colours. It reminds me of our Rugman ‘Ziggy’ print. [This Bowie-inspired artwork in our Den also involves gold leaf and a circle design - see pic below, and click here for my blog post on Rugman's art.]
PHH *dreamily*: I want to go and see the new Trainspotting film with Susie and Stephen.
ME *ignoring him*: Right. So why don’t we take the laptop downstairs and look at this art next to the Rugman one?
PHH: No; I’m not ready for that. It’s a level of commitment beyond where I am right now. [Those of you who have read my previous blog post, The Pink House Husband’s Styling Challenge, may remember that this is how he actually talks, word for word – I’m not making it up].
More scrolling. He is now looking through a selection of works by the Gold Leaf Circle artist, Kristjana S Williams. Her works remind me of Timorous Beasties wallpaper, which is a good thing. He clicks on an image of a vintage-looking black-and-white London map, embellished with exotic plants, birds and animals round the edge, called Lulu Guiness Gold London (A1 Size). It looks like the jungle is slowly creeping over London. It’s very appealing – and one thing PHH and do I agree on is our love of London. And maps. That’s two things.
PHH: What about this one? It’s sufficiently weird enough for both of us. And you like that kind of colourful stuff that’s going on at the edges. What's is called? Embellishment?
ME: Yep; I reckon this is a good symbolic sort of thing to buy while we’re planning our move back to London. It’s a good idea.
PHH: Right. I’m buying it. Where’s that voucher code?
He’s a man on a mission (PHH hates shopping and prevaricating), so before I can think of anything else to say, he’s bought Lulu Guiness Gold London (A1 Size) by Kristina S Williams for £315 (£300 voucher plus £15) in just a few taps of the keyboard.
ME: Wow. That was fast. I feel like I’ve hardly looked at anything. Why did you do it so quickly?
PHH: So we can go and watch an episode of The Man in the High Castle.
ME: Fair enough. Shall we watch it in the Den?
PHH *staring at his phone*: Yup. But I just need to watch the Trainspotting trailer one more time first. Can you make me some more peppermint tea?