It’s rare to find a gallery like Kojonup’s Gallery Aura in regional WA. Opened nearly a decade ago, in an old agricultural supply building, the space features magnificent old floorboards and pressed tin ceilings that create an ideal setting for the many artistic treasures that lie within.
Owned by Kojonup local, Jill Capper, the idea for the gallery came after years of helping out at the town’s annual primary school art show.
“I was involved in the fundraising art show for many years,” Jill says. “I met so many artists and had a long list of contacts so when the exhibitions stopped, I was keen to still be involved in showcasing and selling art.”
The final piece of the idea fell into place when Jill was helping build set props for a local play. While laying out the props on the expansive floor of the then vacated farm supply building, Jill realised the space would be perfect for a gallery.
“My husband and I already owned the building so, once I got the idea, it wasn’t long before I was renovating the space and contacting artists.”
Jill is very careful about what she includes in the gallery and this has been key to its success. She also has a number of guidelines for what she selects to go up on the walls.
“Good art is about a good idea that’s been well executed,” Jill explains. “The work has to be high quality in technique and visually pleasing. Of course, my own personal taste does play a role in what I choose as some artworks just speak to you. It’s always the case that the paintings I really covet are the ones that sell the fastest.”
Jill is also conscious of how each artwork fits in with the gallery’s broader collection. For Jill, curating artworks requires effort and a considerate eye. Just one new painting can lead to a major reshuffle of other works on a multitude of walls. While this may be considered purely an aesthetic consideration, Jill says it goes much further than that.
“There is a great responsibility when hanging an artist’s work. I need to display their work in the best way possible and that means deciding whether to tonally match it with the wall or opt for a contrasting wall. There’s also consideration for connecting it with what’s around it – whether that be other artworks or items of furniture.”
Having built up a regular client base, Jill says she tries to feature predominantly WA artists and you’ll find works from more than 30 artists including Teresa Fernandez, Laura Newbury and Julie Silvester.
When it comes to buying art, and hanging pictures in your own home, Jill offers this advice.
“Choose good, original art that’s really well done. People often shy away from a big art investment as they wonder if it will hold or increase in value. You should only buy art that speaks to you; buy it because you love it rather than for investment because good art is really an investment in your own personal enjoyment.”
Jill also suggests choosing artworks based on the theme or colour scheme of your house or the room where it will be hung.
“Too much variation can look busy and won’t do anything to give your home a cohesive, calm feel. Go bold if you want, just remember to keep a basic tone in mind so it ties back to your existing colour scheme.
“Another tip is to create gallery walls. These are a great option for hanging lots of small pieces as they concentrate the art in one place without overcrowding wall space. Visual balance is key, so try to keep the middle at eye level and place stronger or heavier pieces at the bottom.”
Hanging height is important too and Jill says a lot of people hang paintings way too high.
“When you’re standing in front of the painting your nose should be in line with the middle of the picture; this is the centre of your vision. You also need to take into account the size of the wall in relation to the size of the painting.”
Jill’s closing advice is to consider lighting.
“Good lighting is important. It can transform an artwork from being part of the general decor to it being the focal point of a room. Consider some adjustable downlights in crucial areas. And, always remember that balance, colour and lighting are the cornerstones for choosing and hanging pictures.”