Selkirk painter proving to be a smash hit, thanks to car crash

A car crash isn't many people's idea of a sound career move, except for stuntmen and cash-for-crash insurance claim fraudsters.

Friday, 28th October 2016, 3:09 pm
Updated Monday, 31st October 2016, 9:52 am

It’s working out for Selkirk artist Alex Hain, however, although it wouldn’t necessarily have been his ideal way of going about things.

The 26-year-old, a regular at the Selkirk Wasps studios along with his fellow artist father Rob, sustained a punctured lung after losing control of his car and crashing into a tree near St Boswells six years ago.

It was while recovering from that accident that he took to painting as a form of self-medication, he says.

“I was bedbound after my accident and started drawing portraits. I just felt an impulsive need to draw,” said Alex, of Lilliesleaf. “It was a catalyst, and it was a necessity to paint more than anything else.”

Alex is now returning to the Cumbrian art gallery that helped to get his career up and running after hosting his first exhibition last year.

His work will go on show again at Cockermouth’s Castlegate House the weekend after next, and he is hoping to build on the acclaim he attracted on both sides of the Atlantic after exhibiting there last time round.

Since then, Alex has made fans of Jerry Saltz, the New York magazine’s senior art critic, and his wife Roberta Smith, a senior art critic at the New York Times.

He said: “They are two of my favourite critics.

“Jerry can be harsh, but he is a proper critic, not just someone who is a polite commentator on art, and on the whole, he generally likes what I do and always tells me to paint bigger.”

Alex added: “Over the past year, I have been making paintings that predominantly investigate childhood, both mine and other people’s.

“Every day, when sitting down in front of a canvas, I started to subconsciously examine my work and thoughts, ask questions and analyse my changes in perception.

“What fascinated me the most about the childhood paintings was in the subject’s perspective – the child’s own vision and thoughts, looking at the way they made art and made it in a free and uncompromising way, a primal visual language that has existed for thousands of years. That’s what’s so fascinating. In my view, it’s the DNA of painting.

“It’s some of the most imaginative and authentic work there is, and it’s something that I hope my work is seen to investigate.”

Also featuring in the show, as was the case last time round, is Jess Pigott, 24, of Bath.

Steve Swallow, co-owner of the Castlegate House gallery with his wife Christine, said: “Alex and Jess are two young artists fresh into their careers.

“After a hugely successful first exhibition in 2015, it’s fascinating to see how, in the 18 months since, their work has developed.

“Being part of the start of something special is what this is all about.”

The pair’s exhibition, titled Continuance, can be seen at the Cockermouth gallery from Saturday, November 5, to Saturday, November 26.

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