In the first in a new series of articles focusing on Digswell Arts Alumni, this month we catch up with Alex McIntyre who was a fellow at the Forge studios from 2011 to 2016
Alex McIntyre has been working as a professional artist since 2007 and paints from her studio at Waterhall Farm in Whitwell. Alex creates art for exhibitions, commissions and through collaborations with other creative professionals, and has work held in private and commercial collections across the UK, United States, Japan, Norway, Germany, France and Holland.
Alex completed her five-year artist fellowship at Digswell Arts in 2016 and has held artist in residence positions with Middlesex University, Brent Museum and Archives in collaboration with English National Ballet, Wizard Presents Production Company and Watford Museum.
Alex has shown her work widely at art fairs: self-representing at 14 editions of The Other Art Fair in London and New York, and been represented at The Affordable Art Fair and Fresh Art Fair. Alex has shown work in the following galleries; Byard Art, Kendall’s Fine Art, Bils and Rye Gallery, The Biscuit Factory, Artichoke Gallery, Mylo Fine Art, the Stone Space and Quercus Gallery.
In March 2020 Alex released her first self-published book, Through The Blue Door, a 48 page full colour catalogue which showcases a selection of work produced during the last five years. We catch up with Alex to find out about her new book and her practice since she left Digswell….
Alex, please tell us more about your new book Through The Blue Door…
The book came about because I was commissioned by a corporate client through Onderneming and Kunst in Amsterdam to create three paintings for a cruise ship. When the commission had been completed, they asked me to provide a book for the library. It seemed like an excellent opportunity to create one… so I did.
I started by thinking about what I would like the book to be like for the reader- hoping that it would be more than just a catalogue of works.
The process putting it together was so exciting. I collaborated with Jo Howe (also a Digswell Alumni) who did the graphic design, held my hand, exchanged ideas and was generally superb to work with. Kevin Mead at Art Van Go did the visual editing of art work images and offered his opinions and eagle eye. Nicolas Laborie took the artist portrait photographs during a whole day of wandering and conversations. The photographs of paintings were taken by both John Vincent (another Digswell Alumni) and Graham Matthews (studio based on Waterhall farm).
I love that there are so many brilliant people involved behind the scenes – and that the book seems to be resonating. On receiving the book one client said, “Thank you for the first spontaneous, not conscious- anxiety driven, deep breath I have had in days. Inspired just by opening it up. It was this that made me realise I was going to have to find a way to live with this book open. Closing it and allowing other books to pile on top of it would be to waste it.”
What are you working on now?
Like many artists, the exhibitions and fairs I had lined up for the Spring have been cancelled or closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. For me, this includes two international shows: Beyond Other Horizons, at the Iasi Palace of Culture, Romania, a British Council / Romanian Cultural Institute / UNAGE show curated by Peter Harrap, Anna McNay and Florin Ungenau featuring 40 British artists and 40 Romanian artists and The Other Art Fair in New York, which was due to take place in May.
I was also due to participate in two exhibitions in the UK: a selected group exhibition at Quercus Gallery in Bath and a pop up exhibition taking over the ground floor of my parents’ home in Highgate where I intended to showcase a collection of 30 paintings. As part of the pop up, I had organised two sell out events collaborating with Anna McNay, an arts writer, editor and curator and John Prebble, a creative producer. We had a confirmed visiting audience of 150 people over the course of the weekend. I’m pleased to announce that this event has been rescheduled to 18-20 September. The next deadlines I have for shows and projects are not until the autumn, although I am aware that these may yet also be cancelled.
How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected your practice?
From a sales and audience engagement point of view, owing to the current situation, there has been an obvious shift towards building an online audience through social media channels, including taking part in the #artistsupportpledge initiated by Matthew Burrows; Studio rooms with The Other Art Fair presented by Saatchi Art online; and collaborating with artist networks to organise online viewing experiences with a view to generating sales of work – look out for news of this via @alexmcintyreartist on my Facebook and Instagram.
On Saturday 18 April I am participating in V-Art Show 7-10pm. This is an opportunity for visitors to virtually meet 8 emerging artists and talk to them about their latest collection of work. Using the video chat app Zoom, you will be able to wander through our virtual show going into different zoom rooms, each with a different artist https://www.v-art.show/
In terms of my creative practice, this time in the studio without the pressure of deadlines has been a gift. I am approaching it like I would an artist residency. It is an extended opportunity to do practice-based research, explore, play, make with authenticity and find ways to share that process. I am reminding myself to be brave, to hold in mind those qualities of making that make my heart sing and to create simply for the joy it.
You can also sign up for Adventures from the studio and beyond, a monthly news update including invitations for future shows via Alex’s website – www.alex-mcintyre.co.uk
Alex’s book Through The Blue Door, £14.50 is available to buy via her website: https://alex-mcintyre.square.site/product/-alex-mcintyre-through-the-blue-door/25
List of artworks:
Breath, 2020, 10cm x 10cm, ink and bubbled gesso on panel, £175 as part of #artistsupportpledge
February Morning, 2020, 10cm x 10cm, ink and bubbled gesso on panel, £175 as part of #artistsupportpledge
Look up to catch comets, 2019, ink and gesso on birch, 160 x 110 x 5.5cm framed, £3000
Do not trouble to head anywhere but the sky, 2019, ink and gesso on birch, 160 x 110 x 5.5cm framed, £3000