Studio Visit with Alex Ball (Umpel)
I arrive at Alex's house on a bright and sunny pearler of a Tuesday, and every time I'm there, I remember how much Bar Beach (Newcastle) is one bloody lovely spot! I can tell where he is straight away, a row of green garage doors faces me with one slightly open at the bottom to allow the wafts of coloured aerosol an escape form whatever lies within. Suddenly rolling up the door, Alex starts and practically hisses at the flood of sunlight, like some malevolent creature who'd only venture out under the cover of darkness. He squints up at me from the carpeted concrete floor of the small cave in which he works. It seems the looming exhibition is creating a little stress, which wasn't helped by the recent storms that left most of Newcastle in a blackout for a week delaying production.
The works are on the floor, with a surrounding mandala of small pots of acrylic paint, piles of pictures of his friends and inspiration. A crude Russel Brand podcast is ranting on in the background, with surf boards and boxes of aerosol cans, stacked up precariously against the back wall, and the endearing, yet contrasting, sound of small children learning football skills that carries in from the park up the street.
Alex is accustomed to working on large scale, public wall murals. He has collaborated with a number of artists in this way including two of our previous exhibiting artists Ellie Hannon and Ben Foster. He has exhibited work in several group shows but this will be his first solo exhibition.
The current series of work, That Sinking Feeling, features intimate portraits of those close to him, with imagery and symbolism associated to the concept of a sinking society. The colour palette is unusual but fantastic. Each pot of paint had been either "found, or quite heavily discounted, making the most of what would otherwise be considered waste". Each portrait is painted on boards splashed with paint and texture, scribbled on, scratched and scraped back, as Alex prefers not to work from a blank canvas.
That Sinking Feeling is on show at The Corner Store Gallery from May 14 - 31, with an opening night from 6-8pm on Friday May 15th.