For a long time, I thought minimalism and my love for art didn’t go well together so one had to go. And since having space to live and think was more important to me, I just stopped buying and getting art wherever I lived at that point of time. But that was all about to come to an end as I found three ways to surround myself with beautiful things without cluttering the space I live in. If you are a renter or if you are location independent moving a lot, you must read this.
Minimalism is a skill and like any other, it must be practiced. When I first heard of this concept, my childhood room was full with print books. Lots of them. And moving to college from one place to another was a nightmare. I am thankful that today I am at my 3rd ebook reader and I read even more books than I did back then. If you’d visit my home today, you’d think I’m barely literate as I own very few print books. But I’m still the same bookworm. Reading has been one of those few things where I didn’t change. Many of my previous books were art albums and I admit I haven’t been keen on buying new digital ones as I much prefer text on my basic Kindle. But I found something even better to replace my addiction to beautiful things, at least to images depicting them: I joined Pinterest. And to be honest, that social media website is to be blamed for setting up this blog and getting into visual arts again. I’ve forgotten how much I loved colors and shapes. And unlike Google Images, on Pinterest I could organize ideas into collections and images are less cluttered too.
A second strategy I used was to admire art outside of my place. And a natural place to start with were museums. But here lies a pet peeve of mine: most times I visit an art museum, it’s actually a museum with only one type of art – painting. Sculptures are a rarity in museums where I live. And decorative arts are even rarer. But all these art pieces are still created and produced, it’s just a matter of time to find them or even to extend the definition of what an art-displaying place is. It could sometimes be a library. Or a botanical garden. Or an abandoned wall turned into a graffiti. Or a niche craft fair whenever there is a public holiday. Or a nice restaurant where the food is not only good tasting, but also beautiful to look at. And since I have a weakness for traditional Japanese arts, I realized that art can be found anywhere and created by anybody and out of any materials. But it’s a skill to notice it.
Which brings me to the third way I enjoy visual arts without hoarding lots of stuff at home. When I had to move into my home, I had to make lots of difficult decisions. I am still the unsympathetic person in the family who says ‘no’ when there is danger to bring clutter in the home – like a new piece of furniture or whatever. When I moved in, the house was empty and white. Compared to all the other places I lived in, it felt so liberating. And ever since then, I struggled to keep it like that as much as possible. And I had to ask myself what is the minimum number and type of objects I could go by with. The answer to this has a lot to do with combining minimalism with a passion for beautiful things.
Because at a minimum, you need something to cover your body and some utensils to eat from and with. An unspoken way to own few things in your pristine home and still enjoy visual arts is to embed the latter into functional objects. Instead of walls being adorned with beautiful paintings, try to get those same pictures on objects you use every day – like on a plate or a teapot or a keepsake box. Instead of filling your house or even a dedicated cabinet with sculptures and figurines, try to embed those in three-dimensional objects you need anyway – like a lamp to read in the evening or a centerpiece fruit bowl in the kitchen. The moment you stop using these objects for their functional purpose and use them for display only, you become a collector. Is it worth it? You decide that one.
To sum it up, here are the three ways to enjoy visual arts without cluttering your home:
– go digital and try Pinterest and ebooks and digital arts in general
– admire art outdoors and indoors outside your home – art does exist wherever you least expect it
– buy decorative art objects instead of fine art ones – you need pottery and textiles and some furniture anyway, so why clutter your home with objects which although beautiful, have no other use?
If you’ve managed to enjoy art and still kept your home clutter-free, I’d love to hear from you in a comment below!