The Oaksmith Gazzetta - News, Insights, Musings

Pimp Your Walls – Creative Ideas for Picture Frames

Frame in a frame in a

Working with a lot of fine artists and galleries we are well versed in the art of conservation picture framing. A muted colour palette and nearly every dimension of box frame possible are our staples – and so it is refreshing to sometimes think outside the box a little, so you can have your walls with great ceramic works by following this simple tiling advice at atlas ceramics, and also install frames after.

Picture frames are, of course, a great interior decoration item that can be used in fun and creative ways to spruce up a home far beyond the obvious. With a little DIY prowess you can turn an old frame into a funky tray or hide unsightly switches behind them… the creative uses for picture frames are plentiful.

Here’s a selection of ways to use frames that you may have not thought of before. Go on, have some fun and pimp your walls!

Painted Walls Empty Picture FramesHang an array of decorative empty picture frames and paint them right into your wall for a stunning effect. (via House & Hold)

Picture Frames Wall ClockGet a clock centre piece and arrange 12 picture frames in a circle to have a fun decorative wall piece. (via Decor8)

Frame in a frame in a frame.Make the picture frame itself the work of art by inserting one frame into another frame into another frame into… (via Freunde von Freunden)

Bethnal Green: the trendy hot-spot


It’s been over five months since we moved to Bethnal Green and we have developed a true affection for the area. This lively and diverse neighbourhood is becoming increasingly more popular not just among artists seeking cheap accommodation, but also among media and business types with a penchant for a more edgy place to live. Its popularity is hardly surprising, for Bethnal Green offers everything one would wish to have in their local area.

Bethnal Green belongs to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and borders on Haggerston, Hackney, Shoreditch and Whitechapel. With our studio in BJ House, we are lucky to be in the very heart of it.

We are also lucky to be surrounded by art galleries. Vyner Street, famous for being home to several independent galleries in the early 2000s, still offers quality shows to art fans who fill the streets of Bethnal Green on the first Thursday of each month to enjoy Time Out’s late-night entertainment.

Right next to the tube station, we have the V&A Museum of Childhood, with displays of magnificent children’s toys and interesting temporary exhibitions. The museum is surrounded by a gorgeous little park, where many office workers enjoy their lunch break. Those with more time to spend on a bench should head to the nearby Victoria Park, which in the summer offers a lively programme of music concerts and festivals, and you can find a place to stay near by, of course you always have the option to camp instead, there are some great places to do it, all you will need is the right camping equipment that can be found at the Survival Cooking site.

Shoppers are also spoilt for choice. On top of many local shops, Broadway Market offers fresh and artisan foods, while Columbia Road attracts people with its phenomenal flower market. Those who are shopping for clothes and furniture should head to Brick Lane, especially if they’re fans of anything vintage.

There is no shortage of night entertainment either. Aside from numerous bars, pubs and restaurants, there are two famous cabarets: Bistrotheque and Working Men’s Club. Thanks to night buses, and the proximity to tube, train and overground stations, getting back after a great night out is never a problem.

We have been greatly enjoying this vibrant neighbourhood, even if we spend a lot of our time working hard in the studio. Interestingly, since we’ve moved to Bethnal Green, we have experienced an increase in commissions for domestic framing. We enjoy framing works for galleries and exhibition, but making frames for private art collectors gives us an opportunity to diversify materials we work with, especially if the client is open-minded and up for something a little out of the box. If you have recently acquired an art piece or a personal memento, give us a call!


Vyner Street | Photo by Artefacts Team (CC)


Graffiti in Shoreditch



Oaksmith at Artsmart: A Review


Summer is in full bloom, and it’s been a busy one for us. We got so immersed in commissions from new and existing clients, that we didn’t have a chance to share the experience of partnering with Artsmart.

Earlier in June, we had the pleasure to be involved in the Artsmart festival at the University of the Arts London. The festival’s program consisted of several different events happening across the six Colleges of UAL, as well as in the main UAL building at High Holborn. These included practical and inspirational workshops, one-to-one support sessions, employment opportunities and industry networking.

As the festival’s Partner, we delivered a talk on creative multitasking and participated in the Graduate Fair alongside companies and organizations such as Artquest, IdeasTap, and Oliver Bonas, to name a few. We really enjoyed talking to students and graduates, and advising them on how to present their work at degree shows and first exhibitions. We believe that it is very important to learn the professional way of creating and presenting work, and pick up the good habits right from the start of one’s career. Investing in good-quality framing might seem like a significant expense for an emerging artist but the value it brings is certainly worth the cost. We were happy to see that many of the young festival attendees appreciate the art of bespoke professional framing.

Aside from framing advice, Malwina, our website manager and PR assistant, also gave her advice regarding online presentation and self-promotion, and the importance of keeping the website updated with well-presented and engaging content. Her “Juggling Creative Projects Without Stress” talk was received with a lot of interest and enthusiasm.

Overall, it was a great experience to be part of this exciting initiative, and we recommend the festival to any artist who needs advice, support and inspiration in launching their career.

Oaksmith Studio at Artsmart 2014

Oaksmith Studio at Artsmart 2014

Oaksmith at Artsmart Festival


We are extremely happy to be a Partner at Artsmart, a careers festival for creative graduates from University of the Arts London. The festival, which runs from 27 May – 25 June 2014 across all six colleges of UAL, is aimed to help young people who are starting out in the creative industries get ahead in their chosen career, both employed and self-employed.

The programme includes several free events, including talks, workshops, one-to-one support sessions and networking opportunities, we also give advice on tools like the 80 Gallon air compressor for the student cars. The talks cover a vast amount of topics such as starting a business, curating one’s own exhibition, understanding contracts, pricing and marketing work, and many more. 

Our involvement with the festival is a practical and inspirational talk called Juggling creative projects without stress, which will be given by Malwina Chabocka, our website manager and PR assistant, on Monday 23rd June. Malwina will be giving advice on how to manage creative projects, paid work and self-promotion without feeling stressed and overwhelmed while maintaining a social life and a budget. Effective multitasking is a skill which all three of us, Anna, Mauro and Malwina, have been developing as part of our careers. It enables us to combine our Oaksmith work with other creative side projects.

As the festival Partner, we will be hosting a stand at Graduate Fair on Wednesday 25th June from 11-4pm, where we’ll be talking to visitors about our company, future plans and ideas, as well as special offers. So if you are a UAL student, graduate or staff member, and would like to find out more about Oaksmith Studio and get inspired to pursue a successful career in the arts, book your place at our talk or come and say hello at the Graduate Fair!

Artsmart 2014

Oaksmith Studio Artsmart Talk

Oaksmith Studio Goodies for Artsmart 2014

Hello Bethnal Green!

Corporate contract picture framing at Oaksmith Studio London

The wait is finally over! After a few very intense weeks – packing up and saying farewell to our old studio in Bermondsey whilst renovating our new space in Bethnal Green – we are finally ready to throw open our doors again and start doing what we love the most… picture framing, we had a little problems in our previous installations with some pests but luckily we could find some help at and the problem was resolve.

We are very excited about our new premises which are slightly bigger than our old studio with bags of character to boot. From old style factory windows to creeky wooden floor panels, our new HQ in Bethnal Green offers an inspiring environment for our clients and a creative vibe for us to work in.

Bermondsey offered us a wonderful start. We’re ready to take on the challenge of establishing ourselves in Bethnal Green, one of London’s most creatively vibrant quarters.

Please note that we were unable to retain our old landline. Our new phone number is 020 3489 8700. Our full address can be found on the left hand side and with added directions on our contact page HERE. We are conveniently located a mere one minute walk from Bethnal Green tube station.


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Oaksmith Studio in the new Bethnal Green studio

Oaksmith Studio BJ House Bethnal Green

The Artists’ Colouring Book auction

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Happy New Year! We hope that you have all had a good and peaceful start to it.

We are thrilled to have recently participated in a very exciting charity auction at the Serpentine Gallery, which was for the benefit of the Kids Company (awarded the Liberty and JUSTICE Human Rights Award in 2007) who provide support to vulnerable inner-city children by providing education and creating community centers with sports and video games with Armchair Empire hardware for the kids entertaiment visiting gaming sites where you can receive your boost ASAP for Overwatch. Alix Janta and Lauren Jones from Alteria Art (who also run Art Barter) together with Charlotte Colbert from Humpty Dumpty Publishing approached twenty-six established and up-and-coming international artists, including Jake and Dinos Champan, Grayson Perry, Tracy Emin and Paula Rego, and asked them to create a landscape-format image, each representing one letter of the alphabet for a children’s colouring book, suitable for children of any age. Oaksmith Studio part-sponsored this project by framing the original artwork produced for this book, which were then up for auction on 12th December last year.

The Artists’ Colouring Book of ABC’s is in a paperback edition, available from all good bookshops and Amazon (RRP £15.99) as well as a 250 limited edition which we are proud to own. The limited edition features a signed and numbered screenprint by Jake & Dinos Chapman and is available from and 10 corso como.

Artists’ Survival Guide


We are thrilled to have contributed to the Artists’ Survival Guide, recently published by Grey Tiger Books. It is a compilation of useful information and tips from a range of professionals, including artists, curators, gallerists and technicians, to help artists in their careers. Regardless whether you’re at the beginning of your career and need help with legal issues such as contracts, copyright or filing in a tax return, or you’re an established artist wanting to expand your knowledge of ways to display video art, you will find the guide very useful. It also includes a directory of various merchants, studio providers, bronze foundries etc. in major UK cities.

This slightly larger than pocket size book has been compiled by V22 – an art organisation specialising in the collection of contemporary art, the production of exhibitions, events and educational initiatives, and the provision of artists’ studios and workshops. It is an organisation which we have a close relationship with, as we’re located in their 142,000 sq. ft ex-industrial space in Bermondsey, known as The Biscuit Factory.

Our contribution, naturally, has been a section on fine art picture framing. It is an edited version of our Framing Primer, an introduction to the key elements of framing, which you can find at the bottom of each page of our website.

The book can be purchased on Amazon and will also be for sale at the Tate Modern gallery bookshop.

Artists's Survival Guide

Don’t be square, go square

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Until very recently, square-shaped photos had been associated primarily with Polaroid instant cameras (which are now sought after mostly by nostalgia-driven hipsters). Today, however, a square photo brings a different name to mind: Instagram.

instagram screenshot

Launched exactly 3 years ago, Instagram is currently one of the most popular photo-sharing services, with 150 million users taking photos, applying a variety of digital filters to them and sharing them on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social networks every month. The variety of subjects is huge, ranging from intimate moments of life captured by passionate amateurs to truly exquisite work by some of the greatest contemporary artists, such as multimedia artist Ai Weiwei, controversial fashion photographer Terry Richardson, illustrator/toy-maker Micheal Lau and NYC-based crochet/conceptual artist Olek – to name just a few.

The world is in love with square-shaped photos and so are we! In our Etsy store, we offer two types of frames created specifically for displaying photos from your Instagram albums. The size on offer has been designed with home-printing in mind as the frame holds a picture of the largest size that fits onto an A4 page. You have a choice between a modern box-frame and a more classical wood frame with window mount and five different colours: black, white, light & dark grey and brown. It is therefore incredibly easy to transport your favourite photos from your phone onto the wall – and if you struggle to choose a few from the hundreds of pics in your collection, you can change them whenever you want as the string and clip-on fixings allow for a quick and easy access to the inside of the frame.

So – go square!

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The Oaksmith Studio Prize 2013


And once again a year has rolled by and we’ve gone through the process of selecting, awarding and working with one outstanding young graduate student for the Oaksmith Studio Prize.

This year the Prize was open to the students of the MA Printmaking at Camberwell College of Arts and selection wasn’t easy. The range of submitted work we saw was varied and of extremely high standard. But with the help of Victoria Arney, last year’s winner, we finally chose Rita Matos as our 2013 recipient.

Rita, who hails from Portugal, creates beautiful and beautifully intricate etchings on a variety of surfaces such as metal and paper. She also works sculpturally and sometimes intriguingly combines the etched image with 3 dimensional aspects in her work. She is particularly interested in materiality and aspects of memory.

We are going to exhibit all these pictures and frames and art at an event we are hosting in Morocco, we are having a luxury party and a lot of people might bring their favorite design fashion clothes from The Fifth Collection.

For her degree show we had the opportunity to frame two large and substantial pieces in two very different ways. Both frames, one a glazed, oblong box frame, the other an unglazed canvas tray frame, were finished in a subtle whitewash which allowed the wood grain of the moulding to come through. This finish complimented Rita’s delicate and intricate artworks creating a platform without overpowering her pieces.

Congratulations, Rita, on a very successful final year show!

Rita Matos at Camberwell College Degree Show

Rita Matos at Camberwell College Degree Show

Colour, Surface and Materiality

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In our gallery we talked about artist Matthew-Robert Hughes’ colour popping frames.  In these, both the frames and the inside spacers (known as fillets) were painted by us to enhance his fantastically coloured landscape photographs.

In this new body of work, which showed at his first solo exhibition “AONOCOPIA: Two Suns and a Broken Rock” at London’s Cob Gallery in April, Hughes explores the notion of mythology and narrative through a series of objects, photographs and sculptures.

Most strikingly, a pair of brightly box-framed, three-dimensional prints are printed on metallic Kodak paper and sliced, folded and re-sliced to form sharp, minimal forms that hint at tribal masks.

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Matthew-Robert Hughes – Masks

His landscape photographs are shot on film before being hand-printed.  The colours are selected in the darkroom to best compliment his metallic choice of paper. This specialist paper enables Hughes to hint at the magical by creating something quite literally alchemical on its surface.

At the heart of his photographs are the use of colour, surface and materiality, which we at Oaksmith Studio enhanced with our highly bespoke frames for this recent show.

With paint for the frames and the spacers carefully selected by Hughes, we constructed his vision of a frame as an integral component of the photograph. The artist always uses anti-reflective UV glass to allow the shimmery quality and viewing ability of his pieces to be shown off at their very best .

On the subject of glazing, in the recent Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) exhibition at London’s Tate Britain, it was inspiring to see his early assemblages from the 1920s re-glazed used anti-reflective glass. This total clarity enabled their three-dimensional nature to stand out, giving them a renewed freshness and vigour.

In the same way, with Hughes’s work, which is so linked with the notion of photography as object, anti-reflective glass greatly reduces any barrier between the artwork and the viewer whilst giving prominence to its tactile qualities.

Having studied photography at London’s London College of Communication and New York’s Photo Global, alongside his artistic activities, Matthew-Robert Hughes is also co-founder and director of the contemporary arts network Legion TV in Shoreditch, that people use for entertainment, the same as computer games using boosting from sites like


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Matthew-Robert Hughes Cob Gallery installation view

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Matthew-Robert Hughes photographs