LONDON - Often it is the artwork that creates the focus in the room. A room can even be decorated based on a favourite picture or sculpture. The key to lighting artwork is how to choose the best solution to suit not only the art itself but also the interior.

1 A historic interior may require a more traditional approach. This could be a picture light. Always select one frame or wall mounted so that it relates to the picture. Never mount on the wall with a gap above the picture as the wall in between the picture light and picture becomes brighter than the picture. This seems so obvious but I have seen it many times. 

Beware of the very slim picture lights – they may be the interior designer’s dream but often the optics are bad and they provide a narrow band of light at the top and nothing more. 

It is important that the picture light projects well beyond the picture and even above to ensure no direct reflection in the art itself. 

Be sure to always see samples of any LED picture light to ensure the light is not too cold, is dimmable and has a good CRI (Colour Rendition Index). This will ensure the best results on the painting.  A good picture light will have a high CRI 2700K colour temperature (It can be 3000k in museums and galleries but in the home I prefer the warmer colour temperature).


PICTURE EVENLY LIT WITH AN LED PICTURE LIGHT FORM JOHN CULLEN.

2 Another solution that may be simpler in the more contemporary interior is a recessed directional spotlight. Again there are rules for their selection. The light source must be baffled to reduce glare, the colour temperature should be a warm 2700k and the CRI above 95 as for the picture light to ensure best and true visual impact of the artist’s work. The next important thing is the beam width. For dramatic effect, the light should be narrow enough to avoid spreading too far beyond the canvas. Fixtures with varying beam widths10°/24°/36° are ideal like our John Cullen Polespring LED.



A SERIES OF PICTURES LIT WITH THE POLESPRING LED DOWNLIGHT FROM JOHN CULLEN LIGHTING.

3 Sometimes a surface track may be the only solution and the same criteria as the recessed spotlight is essential. 

 

4 For a mural, a wall grazer or recessed slot or uplight may be the correct solution.  In each case this will depend on the interior space and the lighting designer’s role is to work out what is best.

5 For an almost invisible effect, the recessed framing projector that lights nothing else except the picture or sculpture itself, can be used in contemporary and traditional spaces for a magical effect. 


THIS ART IS PRECISELY LIT WITH A FRAMING PROJECTOR FROM JOHN CULLEN LIGHTING.

 

Sally Storey will be in conversation with David Nicholls features director of House & Garden at 9.45am on 2 November  at Sotheby’s, New Bond Street discussing 'How to light art'.

Each lecture costs £10, redeemable against part of the price of a sale catalogue, including refreshments. Readers can book lunch in Sotheby's café with a free glass of wine.

 

BOOK NOW

To book, send cash or a cheque payable to 'Sotheby's', with your name, address, email and phone number, to: Tildy Sturley, Sotheby's Interiors Day, House & Garden, Vogue House, Hanover Square, London W1S 1JU.

For more information, call 020-7152 3849 or email tildy.sturley@condenast.co.uk. To book lunch, call 020-7293 5077, quoting 'H&G open house'.