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Picture hanging, van Gogh and charity

Currently preparing to decorate - after extension building work and post-fire rebuilding work - and taking pictures down throughout the house. And this got me thinking, or musing, about the images that we choose for our homes:

Were I to win the lottery, I would fill the house with paintings - I would love to have a Jack Vettriano or two, or even better several, and maybe the odd Mondrian, or van Gogh (decided I quite liked van Gogh after sleeping in a room that had two of his paintings on the wall ... and there was a Picasso in the loo!) And I would pay my son to produce vast canvases of his atmospheric and arty photographs. These wouldn't be trophy pictures, because I actually like them, and am not remotely interested in some of the more trendy, current collectibles that could be hung purely to impress any visitor in the arty-know. I 'm not generally the sort who sets out to impress (although that van Gogh story is true).

Short of huge wealth landing on my doorstep, however, I am more than happy to make do with prints of places that mean something to us - places we have lived and locations we have travelled to on holiday - one or two nice, but not very special paintings, and numerous photographs of the children.

Children's artwork - paintings, drawings, collages, cards, unfired pots and clay models, woven fabric pictures and glazed pottery - adorns walls, shelves and in the case of two coiled snakes, the fireplace hearth.As they grow, these are a poignant reminder of their younger days.

So, we choose art that is personal and that we are happy to share our home with, but the children have their own space. What do they put up in their rooms? What images are common to all children's rooms? And are there any pictures that parents should, or could encourage?

With younger children, Winnie the Pooh springs to mind - most nurseries in the UK have probably, at some time, been home to at least one image of this iconic, literary bear - and if this encourages the reading of his stories, then it is a very positive thing .

Pop-stars, actors, cars, sports teams and bits of blue-tack adorn every teenager's room I have ever entered. Aspirational, belonging, hobby-forming, life-enhancing - all to be encouraged (and painstakingly, laboriously removed when teen eventually leaves home).

But what of images that mean more, remind us of who we are and of how fortunate our lives are - what about a UNICEF picture, or a photo of a sponsored child? No, we don't have one in our home ... but perhaps this redecorating is an opportunity to change; to try make a difference to distant lives. If we all stopped for a moment each day, and maybe put a coin in a box, it would be a step in a better direction. And we might encourage our children to do the same.

So, post-decoration, check the walls in our larder, kitchen or utility room - those rooms that we all walk through every day - and if there is no picture of a needy child, or charity box, then feel free to remind me and nudge me in the right direction.


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