Ian Hadlow talks... Decorative Arts

  • By Antiques-Art-Design Sydney


What do you define as Decorative Art?

It’s a pretty broad term.  I would loosely apply it to any artisan-made object or craftsman-made item created for the primary purpose of decoration or of beauty.

Does beauty have a purpose?

Absolutely. Objects made for the sole purpose of beauty inspire and motivate us; they have a higher purpose than purely functional objects – a single, beautiful decorative object can reflect the innermost feelings and passions of the owner, and draw out emotion in all that behold it.   It can create a mood, or an atmosphere that can define an entire interior.  Its’ quality or rarity can unwittingly (or purposely!) reveal connosseurship, or appreciation of a craft, or knowledge of the period from which the object comes – even a refined appreciation of art.

What sorts of things fall into the ambit of the term Decorative Arts?

In the antiques, art and design worlds, the term Decorative Artsis used liberally and broadly.  The Decorative Arts are often categorised by materials, eg. glass, ceramic, metal, wood, stone, textile, etc, or they are defined in art and craft terms, eg. painting, sculpture, cabinetry, pottery, weaving, etc.  Most commonly, they are grouped by the style or the period that they represent, such as rococo, art-deco, art-nouveau, neoclassical, modernist or Georgian, Victorian, First Empire, Regency, etc – or by the function that they serve, such as vases, clocks, screens, furniture, jewellery, objet d’art and so on.

Is there a place for the Decorative Arts in modern living?

Definitely.  I think extremes and degrees of minimalism and maximalism will co-exist in interior design from hereon – within both ultra-modern and antique styles.  Done well they can be equally beautiful, and equally enhanced by careful use of Decorative Arts.   The right objects can create a breathtaking ‘gallery-like’ feel in a modern interior, without detracting from its’ sleekness.  They also provide stunning or delightful detail to antique environments, traditional or otherwise.  I think it’s important to remember that while there are superb antique decorative arts – wonderful contemporary pieces are also being made today.

What do you respond to personally?

Any object that is great example of what it is!  By this I mean any item of fine craftsmanship and quality material/s that artistically and definitively represents a style or period, or deliberately reflects neither.  If it also has a universal beauty then I will generally really like it.  But if I feel it captures a greater, perhaps more inherent beauty, (this is subjective, of course!) then I fall in love with it – in my eyes, it becomes art.

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