A Thought piece by James Balmond & Azara Jaleel co-founders of Art & Living by ARTRA Magazine & Balmond Studio together with Jat Holdings

Art is almost as old as humankind itself. From pre-historic times to the contemporary multiplex, artistry has permeated every zeitgeist. The link with man, and by default consciousness, is inextricable. Our need to express the intangibles of human experience, and our desire to engage with this expression, is undeniably human.

We travel within to express without. We absorb without to feel within.

This is one interpretation of metaphysical relationship between art and consciousness. The point here is that art is intertwined with both the human condition and existential experience. We see it every day – on the streets, in galleries, shopping malls, hotels and our homes. Infinite aesthetics for the senses stimulate infinite emotions on the spectrum. Living with art is a daily phenomena.

What is the causality at play here? Within the paradigm of daily life, art offers something unique to the viewer – the disruption of objective reality. It stands as subjective manifestation. An alternate ‘reality’ with never-ending forms and iterations.

Art fractures the norm.

Our perception of the world is shaped through personal experience. External stimuli are filtered through, and processed by, our senses everyday. We de-code, interpret and re-classify the world through internal psychological processes. Like a sculptor, our mind molds the clay of life into a unique form.

The fabric of life appears via repetition of action. Repeated behavioural patterns, repeated frequenting of environments, repeated adherence to norms and values. However we are not automatons. We are multifaceted, complex creatures. We yearn for the irregular, the spontaneous, the improvised.

Humans lust for an alternative frequency. Art challenges all our experiential daily processes. Think about it. We are behaving in a conventional coded manner when suddenly we are confronted by a work of art. For a moment in time, life as we know it fades. The laws of physics melt away. The piece has the potential to be anything, ‘say’ anything and make you feel anything. It has no rules. No government. No predetermined function. The piece is raw expression unbounded. It stands as a counterpoint to brushing your teeth, spreadsheets & alarm clocks. It exists beyond these edifices of steel and concrete. It transcends the beautiful complexity of land contours and leaf structure.

In a systemic world of chaotic, yet organised, networks, art is an anomaly of sorts - a ‘malfunction’ in a positive sense. An infinite expanse shaped by the mysterious nuances of the relationship between consciousness, reality and expression. We can never fully understand this ethereal realm. That’s why it is so appealing.

Humans need to be exposed to the indefinable as much as the quantifiable. This is what art provides. So far we have been examining the art and living dialectic from a human centric standpoint. Yet there is another player in the connective nexus – environment. To put it another way, art has a physicality. It is atomic mass. It exists in relation to its surroundings. We’re talking environments composed of physical volume, light conditions, angles, solid and void, colour etc. All these elements form part of a spatial equation. To insert a work of art into this equation is to add another variable into the mix, creating a new solution. 

Much like how art disrupts the conventional process of being, it also alters the conventional relationship between space and mass. In a nutshell art changes both consciousness and environment simultaneously. By adding a work of art to your kitchen, one alters both the conscious and sub conscious experience of a kitchen, as well as the conventional spatial and design connotation of the space itself. It is a re-wiring of what we ‘know’ on multiple levels.


Returning to the personal, art is communication. Our home (its design, furnishing and so on) is a reflection of self. We generally make choices that reflect our likes and dislikes, our personality and values. Art in our personal space is an indication of identity. More specifically, an act of selfaffirmation. The choice of artworks re-affirm our characteristics through its meaning, message or aesthetics, as we are exposed to, and engage with, the work each day. It solidifies our sense of self.

Now the ‘other’ comes into play. The artwork within your space also communicates something about you to other people, as well as stimulating their own internal emotive responses. Art becomes a medium to engage and enhance the communicative connection between individuals, bringing them closer together in a metaphorical sense. Communication without words. An initial catalyst for further dialogue.

So what does this all mean? We are not suggesting our engagement with art, in a living context, is all pensive reflection and philosophical extraction. Rather it is a testament to the vibrancy of the human condition. The artistic spirit cannot be contained to a gallery or stage. We cannot make creative expression a functioning unit within the systemic processes of sociocultural and sociopolitical infrastructure. It spills over into the every day. It moves through a mysterious osmosis into our existential fabric. It bleeds into learned ‘pattern’ as exception to the norm.

A unique glitch in the Matrix.

To have to coexist with a philosophy and conscious that speaks on behalf of our creative physiognomies and conceptual comprehension, the choice of placement of the physical visual cognizant and what it should be, remains a significant and vital consideration. The counterbalance between visual aesthetic and mental concept is an element of crucial value. Every room speaks of you and every room needs a focal point of perspective to convey the nuances of your contemplations. A Rembrandt or Goya might transpire into degrees of your conventional understanding while a work of art by Leonardo Da Vinci may narrate the contemporary.

Art is a translator; it translates the language of your thoughts into your personal spaces discharging the molecules of your story into creating a bigger picture. In the perceptibly applied sense of the concept, how does art contribute to a living space? An artwork can be used to introduce movement and motion into a room. Movement is a distinct technique pragmatic in the environment as a way for an artist of the living space to direct the viewer’s eye and to influence the viewer’s perception. Using a work of art that conveys a lot of movement can help create a rhythm between the art and your furniture, with the lines creating the type of movement that translates into a story. The conveyed movement within a piece of art will be reflected in your interior design concept to create an imaginative and original design. 

A palette of color and choice of texture can be used to dictate or enhance an authenticity. For example, a neutral color palette on the scope of a canvas can be applied to highlight visual pieces of living fixtures. A bright palette might enrich and add color to an otherwise subdued ambience; the juxtaposition between bold color on a canvas and crisp white walls may set the stage for a translation of your coexisting moods.

The idea that an artwork existing in parallel dimension to your space of living is not just for visual aesthetic, but one of atomic contemplation. Different and diverse works of art will highlight different elements of your thoughts simultaneously complementing your space of living, reviving and refreshing both counterparts. Art in a space of everyday investment will inspire a cognizant to deliberate in distinct philosophies and communicate a perception intrinsically, construing from within and stimulating from the external.


1) A faultless display of art will consider scale, balance and composition. We always encourage our readers and collectors to place works of art on the wall so they can engage and appreciate it from their eye-level.

2) When works of art are comparatively smaller in size, we encourage to place a series of smaller works together so as to command the attention of those in the space.

3) In a busy space where there is much furnishing, antiques or recreational artifacts, we encourage to place a larger or a single statement piece to induce a sense of balance.

4) Select works of art that you personally connect with, or of some sort of significance to you, so you can stir conversations with your family, friends and guests.

5) Create a mock up on the floor or wall with paper cut to the size of the works of art you are planning to place on your walls. This will determine your preferred outlook and style, avoiding any distastefulness from your end.

6) We encourage white frames as they don’t distract from the art while enhacing its character.

7) If you have a smaller work of art, don’t be afraid to use a larger frame leaving more white space around the artwork. It can draw the eye and create a stimulating focal point.

8) Check how the light reacts to your work of art before hanging it on the wall. See how the light sits with the work during daylight, mood lighting, evening shade – as all can really make a work of art shine in a room. So don’t rush to hang it, until you find the best place for it in your home.

9) If you have a larger collection of art, you may consider creating your own gallery wall. You may arrange it in a myriad ways (Await forthcoming edition of ARTRA Magazine on Art & Living’s Tips on How to Curate your Own Gallery Wall)

10) Importantly, place your works of art out of direct sunlight to ensure longevity so you can admire it for years to come.

Island kitchens are extremely popular due to their flexibility, versatility and design possibilities. The utilisation of an island can enhance the potential of an L-shaped kitchen and reinvigorate a Galley kitchen (refer to ARTRA Magazine, e51 feb 2020 Art & Living segment) as long as both spaces are wide enough to accommodate the island. Galley kitchens are usually narrow but in a larger room, an island offers a focal point in the middle for people to sit at. In other kitchens, like the large U-shaped kitchens (refer to ARTRA Magazine, e51 feb 2020 Art & Living segment), islands can be a great communal point in the middle of a large, dominating kitchen. If you are short on space the island becomes a prep area plus an alternative dining area.

It is recommended to place a larger, prominent work of art, which will function as a focal point in the space or a collection of smaller works of art in uniformity.

Additional Commentary

These ideas of modulation and configuration really move one into the conceptual territory of the balance between space and form. When to fragment a space and when not to fragment a space. Solid and void.

For your personal consultation on home and kitchen design call 076 5513631

If you are after the utility of an island kitchen but lack a lot of space the Peninsula kitchen could be the right design solution for you. Essentially when you add a peninsula to a kitchen, you are really adding an island that is just connected to the rest of the kitchen. The result is a little like a horseshoe shape or like having the counter space of the U-shaped kitchen layout, just without the wall behind it. There are limitations to this approach when it comes to use and accessibility, but it can be a solid compromise for enhancing a small, L-shaped layout.

‘Placement of art’ box signified in purple recommends the placement of a larger, prominent work of art, which will function as a focal point in the space.‘Placement of art’ boxes signified in red recommends the placement of a larger, prominent work of art that complement each other, so as the juxtaposition of the works have a tasteful flow.

Additional Commentary

Here we are talking about two elements living together as it were. How do we emphasise each? Or do they work as a complimentary pair? Focal lighting and seating for example have roles to play here.

For your personal consultation on home and kitchen design call 076 5513631

This efficient plan is popular in smaller studio flats and loft apartments due to its maximising of space. All of the functional focal points are clustered in a straight line,echoing the single wall.This includes the mounted cabinets and appliances.

‘Placement of art’ box signified in red recommends the placement of a larger, prominent work of art. ‘Placement of art’ box signified in purple also recommends the placement of a larger, prominent work of art. You can place larger, more prominent works of art in either of the spaces, or in both spaces.‘Placement of art’ box signified in blue recommends the placement of a smaller work of art in comparison to the art placement boxes signified in red & blue. You can place works of art on all three suggested spaces or either, in accordance to your taste and style.

Additional commentary

Avoid juxtaposing all the workstations, this removes any free countertop space between the work related elements. You might want to consider adding an island to create more useable surface and an additional concentration point for the space.Avoid juxtaposing all the workstations, this removes any free countertop space between the work related elements. You might want to consider adding an island to create more useable surface and an additional concentration point for the space.

For your personal consultation on home and kitchen design call 076 5513631

6th March, 2020 Applied Art