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aboriginal art interior design home styling


Artwork: Water Dreaming by Bess Napanangka Poulson

Have you ever tried to choose a piece of art and thought, “This is just too hard”?

You are not alone let me assure you! 

But choosing the right artwork to put the perfect finishing touch on your special space can be simple and easy if you keep to the following five steps.


Do you have a style of art that you love: bright and bold, or subdued and subtle, or somewhere in between?

Or are you looking for a particular colour to help make your interior pop?

Identifying a style and colour scheme is simple. First consider your furnishings and finishes.

Is your space mainly traditional, coastal, contemporary, or modern?

Do you have a dominant colour scheme through your home, or is there a colour that you would love to see in your space?

Once you know what style and colours you would like to work with, you can then set out to find the right art piece for your space.

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Artwork: Anaty by Jeannie Mills Pwerle


Knowing and understanding your space is important when choosing art. Firstly, is your wall space large or small? Do you have a focal piece such as a sofa or buffet above which you want to display an artwork? Or do you have a blank wall that needs a fabulous showcase piece to fill the emptiness and add some character?

If you are placing a large piece of art over a sofa or buffet, be sure to know the dimensions of your furniture piece.  Art that is too small or too large will look odd. Try to keep your art in similar lengths or proportions and hang it in the same orientation as the furniture piece, either portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal).

Just to be clear, when discussing orientation or direction, landscape refers to an image that is wider than it is tall, that is, positioned in a horizontal orientation. While portrait orientation refers to an image that is positioned in a vertical orientation, so it is taller than it is wide.

For example, a long sofa or buffet should have a large piece of landscape orientated art positioned above it.

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Artwork: Leaves by Gloria Tamerre Petyarre

To make a particular piece of furniture such as a buffet the focal point of a space, a large horizontal artwork should be hung closely above it. By hanging the artwork closer to the furniture, it will draw the eye into a clean focal area in between and make other decorative items such as vases and photo frames stand out. The overall look will be aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

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Artwork: Mina Mina Jukurrpa by Pauline Napangardi Gallagher


When it comes to choosing the right sized artwork, you will need to consider whether you are looking to showcase a small or large area.

To achieve balanced and orderly effect on a blank wall, hang a large piece of art but position it so as to leave some of the wall space around the art. If the wall is taller than it is wide, then hang the art piece vertically.­­

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Artwork: Leaves by Gloria Tamerre Petyarre

When hanging smaller pieces of art on a large wall area, create a cluster with multiple artworks. For an eye catching visual effect display smaller artworks in odd numbered groups e.g., 3, 5, 7 etc.

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Artworks by selected traditional Aboriginal women artists displayed in an odd numbered group.


The way you finish the artwork can be the final piece of the jigsaw. With a painting done on canvas, you can either stretch or frame the artwork. Stretching is a simple and cheaper option to framing, however a frame will allow you to complement the style of your room. For example, a whitewash frame with matt board framing your artwork is perfect for a shabby chic décor or in a beachside style home. A rustic timber frame fits into the country style theme and a silver frame enhances modern and contemporary spaces.

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Stretched and framed Aboriginal artworks


Last of all but by no means least, the most important consideration when choosing a piece of Aboriginal art is to ask yourself, “Do I love it?”

Aboriginal art is so special. It is the world’s oldest art. The unique and intricate designs you see in traditional Aboriginal paintings date back to the dawn of human history. Each hand painted canvas depicts an ancient Dreamtime story that has been passed down to the artist through many generations of his or her ancestors over tens of thousands of years.

Size, composition, colours, patterns and textures are all very important elements of an Aboriginal painting, but it is the time-honoured story that makes Aboriginal art so exceptional. When choosing Aboriginal art, consider the story behind the design. Does it speak to you personally? When you look at it, does it invoke an positive emotional response? Look for artworks that you personally find uplifting, inspiring and intriguing.

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Artwork: Yankarri Jukurrpa (Emu Dreaming) by Margaret Nangala Gallagher

At the Mainie Aboriginal Art Gallery, we have an extensive collection of authentic artworks by highly collectible traditional Aboriginal artists from world-renowned arts centres in Central Australia, such as the Warlukurlangu Artists and the Utopia Artists.   

If you need advice about choosing the right artwork to create a picture-perfect space, we are pleased to offer a free art styling service with a fully qualified, professional interior designer, Rebecca Nelson. 

Please contact Rebecca on 0424 726 231 or to talk about your interior design project.

rebecca nelson interior designer


“Interior design is my lifelong passion. For as long as I can remember, I have had an eye for stylish interiors.  As a high school student in Perth, I would go directly to the ‘Home’ pull-out section of the West Australian newspaper and spend a lot of time flipping the pages looking at the stunning homes, interiors, styling and floor plans. I spent many weekends convincing my dad to drive me around Perth to view the latest architecturally designed display homes and interior decorator stores so that I could design my idea of ‘perfect’. After Year 12, I completed an Advanced Diploma of Interior Design, starting in Perth and finishing in what I believe is the design capital of Australia, Sydney (sorry Melbourne!) at the prestigious Nepean Arts and Design Centre. As an interior designer, I have worked for internationally known companies in roles including visual merchandising, home styling, specifications and sales. My creative collaborations with architects, designers and builders have given me the opportunity to work on some of Australia’s largest residential and commercial projects. I love my current role at the Mainie Aboriginal Art Gallery helping people to find meaningful art pieces for their residential and commercial interior design projects.”

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The Mainie Aboriginal Art Gallery is an approved Dealer Member of the Indigenous Art Code. We specialise in genuine investment pieces that are ethically sourced from reputable art centres representing traditional Aboriginal artists.  All artworks are presented with impeccable provenance including a Certificate of Authenticity and information about the Aboriginal artist and their story.


Shop 1, 81 – 91 Scott Street

Bungalow, Cairns QLD 4870

Open Monday to Friday 9:00am to 4:00pm

After Hours and Weekends by Appointment



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