What to do with a bare wall? Hmmm…
You could paint it in an amazing colour, hang family photos, use wall decals or stickers (I happen to like this idea), or just leave it as is.
Bare walls are attractive, at least to me. They look bright and clean. 😊 Besides, cool furniture can work as wall décor too, in a way. I think. 😉
But if you are/are not like me, change your mind down the road, and feel like your room or house could use some personality (or something else), why not consider a mural, or one or more pieces of art?
I’m asking because I saw photos of Ethrisha Liaw’s artwork at the recently opened Hotel Soloha – a boutique hotel in Singapore’s Keong Saik neighbourhood – and got inspired.
They’re pretty bold and eye-catching – definitely conversation starters. 👍🏼
Ethrisha is an experimental textile, print designer and multi-disciplinary creative, and there’s a good chance you’ve already seen her work. She has been featured in many publications; did collaborations with Swarovski and Converse; designed and created the official cultural attire for the Singapore contingent at the 45th Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Programme (SSEAYP); and held an exhibit at the 2018 M1 Singapore Fringe Festival at the Esplanade. She also had her first performance art piece, Artwork No. 23 (2.03%), showcased at Your MOTHER gallery in Singapore.
But back to her hotel masterpieces
“I love how they complement the space to give it a fun edge – the pop colours and textures echoing the element of the lit-up bar, and the metal accents to parallel the furniture,” she says, referring to the above mural in the reception and lobby.
The theme is “play”, with words like “urban jungle” and “tropical sensuality” thrown in. Ethrisha put her stamp on it with pop art elements, coconut trees, goldfish, and arresting hues.
“They’re abstract but they also suggest – and you know it’s about ‘play’ when you see them – that there’s energy and rhythm captured within the colours and contrasts, the strong highlighter yellows going against the deep electric blues, and plastic bags as flowers,” she adds.
The mural was meant to be.
“The original idea for the wall print was for it to be one of the in-room framed works, but Josh (Hu, the hotel founder) saw it and believed it would look great in the lobby – and that’s how it became a 4 metre-wide wall print,” Ethrisha continues.
“The wall mural has now become a sort of signature print where people identify it with the character of the hotel. It’s become Hotel Soloha’s photo wall. I’m just really happy to see how my work gives value, and I’m really excited because this project was the first for me to show my work on such a large scale. I’m used to designing fabric on the body, so this really changes the way I see my work, or now think about its possibilities.”
Now it’s our turn
Ethrisha’s art at Hotel Soloha represents her in the sense that they’re “playful” and “reflect my background in textiles”, she maintains.
“I’ve been experimenting with something I coined to be ‘textile therapy’. Although it’s not directly related, what I’ve learnt is that it doesn’t have to be about touch. It’s already interesting how people are able to feel through what they see; it’s a play with lines and colours and tension and movement. It’s like seeing a furry and already feeling comforted, in a way,” she explains.
“I’m very fascinated with how we react with material, how our senses are heightened by being in touch with surfaces. Being exposed to both graphic work and textiles enables me to think more creatively to merge both worlds. The pieces energise the space, they allow for excitement, and walk the thin line between realism and suggestive space. It’s how I like to live life – practical but also open for magic to happen.”
Well, here’s how we can achieve the same with Ethrisha’s help. 😊 So get ready to scrutinise those bare walls and spaces, and have fun filling them with art!
#1 There are no rules!
“Art can be anything, from a wall weaving to a light fixture. You can even think about incorporating art in the form of a carpet piece to add a bit of dimensional fun to your space,” she points out.
#2 Uncanny art attack
“For those like myself who spend a lot of time in the bathroom, having a little accent in there might add a bit of spirit to washing up in the mornings or when you’re taking a bubble bath – and it’s definitely a pleasant surprise for your guests when they come over. Consider having your art in unexpected or transitional spaces at home, such as your kitchen or entry hallway, for a touch of character!”
#3 Size matters
“Like a mirror, a large piece of art can make your room look bigger. Conversely, many smaller pieces could clutter it. Pay attention to negative space – does it consume the work, or accentuate your little gem?”
#4 Experimenting builds experience
“Not all art pieces require big tickets – you could find and experiment with different illustrations, paintings, embroidery, etc found on Etsy, or from contacting artists via Instagram and Artsy to articulate your perception and taste. To start, neutral-toned canvases work well to add that punch of flavour without appearing gaudy,” Ethrisha relates.
“Take as much time as you need to strategise and plan your collection. Over time, you will know what works for you.”
#5 Be creative with your display
“Consider different ways of presenting your work – they could be hung up without frames, on a clothesline, or layered on a mantle so they could be moved around to change the look of your room between seasons,” she suggests.
“I remember once, when I was exhibiting a weave in the gallery, the rod the weave was hanging from broke. I had little to no time to replace it – I literally went out of the building and started poking around for a branch, which I took to replace the broken rod to hang my weave from organically. It worked wonders, and gallery goers actually appreciated the added element of nature complete with its leaves. So yes, lean it on the wall, peg it on a book shelf, stack it on some books, you do you!”
#6 Trust your gut
“Something you truly connect with is something that will ultimately withstand the test of time and trends.
“I encountered an art book at a fair a couple of years ago that I really liked, but hesitated getting it because it was expensive. I went home without it, and still think about it to this very day. Unfortunately, it was released in limited copies and I missed my chance, so I’m here to make sure you don’t miss yours.”
That’s incredibly thoughtful (thanks, Ethrisha!). We better not waste the opportunity to get creative then – because decorating our spaces with meaningful art could be our most fulfilling house project yet. 😊
Watch out for the latest news on Ethrisha at ethrisha.com (which will be up soon). In the meantime, you can catch her on Instagram: @ethrisha.
Blue wooden shutters and panel doors, a reception counter that’s also a technicolour bar, forest and tropical themes, modern amenities, striking art pieces and furnishings, cosy spaces – Hotel Soloha offers an interesting stay indeed (and lots of spots to take photos in). Maybe it could be just the thing you need to perk yourself up over the weekend?
These are some of the rooms with Ethrisha's pieces, with more closeups: