Art & Soul

There should be a law against bland.

As a traveler, if I wanted bland I would stay at a cheap motel.

When I travel, I specifically look for properties where I can see signs of life & the personality of the owner. This is most often evident in what they have hanging on their walls. It doesn't have to be an Old Master... it could be a humorous poster, a striking modern painting, pop art, a stencil, some photos or something the owner has painted themselves. Whatever the medium, I want to feel interested and engaged. I don't even mind if I hate it, just please don't bore me to death!

Art gives your space a visual anchor. Your choice of art can convey your personality, inspire and uplift, and set a tone or mood for your space without a word being spoken. You can create a sense of fun, drama, romance, playfulness, all with the judicious choices you make about what hangs on your walls. But first, it helps to think about who you are and what you like. Don't make the mistake of trying to second guess what people will like... that's too safe - that's what cheap hotels do. Make your choices about YOU!

It is no accident that the most exciting trend in the hotel world is Art hotels. The hotel industry's meticulous research & experience proves that I am not the only one who appreciates some visual eye candy in my living space. When I think of the glorious Museum Art Hotel in Wellington NZ, and the wonderful Art Series hotels in Melbourne, I know the reason they stand out for me is that they engage me at a very visual level.

The Museum Art Hotel in Wellington is my number one favourite. Checking in to this boutique rabbit-hole is like being on an acid trip (not that I ever have...). The personality of the eccentric owner Chris Parkin is evident everywhere you look, and the pieces have been designed to shock, amuse and puzzle in equal parts. Super-sized sculpture, taxidermy, paintings and curios have been carefully curated to mess with your head.

There are 4 collector's edition MV Agusta motorbikes in the foyer (they are valued at more than 60,000 euros each!). The temptation to throw a leg over is almost overwhelming and I have trouble dragging myself away, lost in a fantasy of acquiring a yellow leather motorbike jumpsuit, a la Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. Wonder if they make those in a size 16? Damn those Italians!

Then there's the larger-than-life bull made out of flattened corned-beef cans (notice the irony?), and the golden hippos that march along the ceiling leading you to the fabulous restaurant. And did I mention the larger than life-sized wonder-woman wearing a coat of many-coloured dried tea-bags? I'm still trying to figure out the metaphor on that one... let me know if you have any ideas! This place celebrates the absurd, the bizarre, the over-the-top, the outlandish. What's not to love? You are gob-smacked and delighted at every turn.

I confess that I would travel to Wellington for no other reason than to stay here, and it is worth every cent. For me, it is a destination. With Wellington's notoriously abysmal weather, it's a good thing you are living in a museum. You may never want to leave your room. It's the only hotel I know where the amenities are truly worth nicking.


Aboriginal art, impressionist, cubist, landscapes, pop art, old masters, modern, contemporary - what's your flavour? Let your personality shine through every time you choose a new painting, print or wall poster. Love a bit of surrealism? Don't be shy... get that Dali up on the wall and build a room around it! Explore your art style here with Richard Tarrant from PictureStore

Here's a fabulous example of an Airbnb listing in Chippendale Sydney, chock full of original art. Interesting, startling, amusing, never boring. Imagine that grey wall without the super-sized portrait... It would be very dull indeed. But as a home for this gargantuan visage, it turns an otherwise ordinary room into a gallery space. As a leading picture on your Airbnb listing, this would be a traffic-stopper. Host Peter is an interior designer with a real eye for eclectic composition. Check out the entire listing here, and click through to Peter's other listings to see more of the same. This is one of my preferred pit-stops when visiting Sydney, because I just want to explore all that fabulous art over & over, and see if he has acquired anything new.

Ever had a burning desire to own original art, but still waiting for that inheritance to drop down?

Well, I have just the solution for you - something I stumbled upon ages ago. I'm always surprised that nobody seems to know about this amazing Commonwealth government initiative: Read on...


I regard this as one of the greatest public projects of all time.

In a nutshell, anyone can "rent" a piece of fine art from our National Gallery. It's surprisingly affordable with prices starting at about $600 per year, and you can swap the pieces out when you want to move on to something else.

Artbank is a Commonwealth Government art leasing program for contemporary art. It supports visual artists and craftspeople across Australia utilising more than 10,000 artworks kept in Commonwealth archives, far from the public eye.

  • 100% of the leasing fees go back into supporting artists.

  • They will send an art consultant to your home free of charge

  • Expert staff will help you choose a piece to suit the space and your taste

  • They organise the lease agreement and help with insurance

  • They deliver & install, often free of charge

  • Can be claimed as a tax deduction if you use it in your Airbnb!

Too good to be true? No this is not a hoax... Check it out

For those not wanting to commit to serious art, there are other options.

Vintage poster art is enormously popular. Vintage posters have classy and stylistic images with advertorial content that references nostalgia. The combination of art and advertising is best exemplified by the iconic and ubiquitous Andy Warhol pieces we have all come to recognise.

Here's a great Vintage Poster Art explainer, again by Richard Tarrant of Picture Store


Want to know where to find some great prints? Here are some links to my favourite wall art sites. Some are Australian and some ship from the USA but as we are only talking about shipping prints, it's not a big deal.

WARNING: Shopping on these sites can be addictive.


I hope you have found these links useful. The 2 biggest tips I can leave you with are:

1. Let your art reflect who YOU are

2. You can own art on any budget

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