I’m often asked the age old question ‘What is Art?’ I feel that if you ask 100 different people that same question you will likely get 100 different answers because, in reality, art is many different things to many different people: to the gallerist it could be the business of ideas and aesthetics, to the artist it could be whatever the artist says it is, to the viewer it can be an almost religious experience or simply something people hang on their walls. To me, however, I see art as a language; as an aesthetic means of communication. So, when I choose to live with art or put it out into the world at large I do so as a means of communicating beyond a written or oral communication.
In my own little world of my Atelier (live/work studio) art and design are not simply things that hang on the walls but are entities with lives all their own that communicate with each other as well as visitors to my home and sometimes with the outside world. They are things that I have created, not simply from the wilds of my imagination, but as a culmination of experiences; from reading,, researching, observing, to travelling, surfing, and so on. While that might sound a bit hokey and over-blown it is really the best way to see art, so far as I am concerned.
For me, the process of creating a piece of art should reflect at least a part of what one is trying to communicate. In my Horizon lines series I produce these works, sometimes over the course of a month or two, by kneeling down on the canvas or paper drawing slow, thoughtful lines with oil pens. A curator recently described these pieces as "meditative and mesmerizing," which I love, as that is what I was going for. By producing works in this process that come from philosophical ideas and abstractly represent seascapes I am simply trying to allow the viewer to bring into play their own unique experiences to something that is quite universal. By living with my own works before sending them out to the world I get to see first hand how others react and how my reactions to the pieces changes over time. Once I am satisfied they do what I set out for them to do, then I let them out into the world to live another life and communicate with more people; with the ultimate goal being that the pieces will then last well beyond myself and will continue to communicate to future generations.
In my Atelier, design takes equal place with art and both, ideally, will play off each other and communicate. I’ve always taken an interest in retooling old items that might otherwise have been discarded. Things like old kayaks and canoes, stripped down, wired up, and turned into large (sometimes 16ft) chandeliers. Much of this comes from flea market hunting. A number of years ago I came across an old gym climbing rope and realised I could wire it up and hang it as a pendant light of sorts. After living with it for months and reconfiguring it often people kept asking to buy it but I always refused since it was my only one. With a click of a light bulb I soon figured I could buy manila rope and draw upon my experience sailing tall ships in the Caribbean to create a line of ‘rope lights’ that have now been sold everywhere from the Google offices in Ireland to Starbucks café’s in Boston and Toronto; and as far afield as Dubai, Singapore and Indonesia in bars, restaurants and houses of all kinds. If it weren’t for my love of sailing they might never have come to play. But, even more so, the rope lights, the kayak chandeliers and the Horizon Line pieces all work together in an eclectic, and nautical interplay. My seemingly eclectic art and design elements all fall into a common theme that drives my everyday life in the city, with daily reminders of the sun and the sea… which will always motivate me, no matter where I am.
* Poetry pieces are done under the pseudonym Antoine Jouet
*Works by Alex Jowett (www.AlexJowett.com) can be seen at the LOVE ART FAIR Toronto, from April 16th-19th at the Alison Milne Gallery booth #C7
Alex Is represented by Alison Milne Gallery, Toronto; Elan Fine Art, Vancouver; and has shown his works across Canada and into theStates.