Art Interviews

“My heart was always in my sketchbooks” – Alice Hole

My introduction to Alice’s beautiful artworks begins in a traffic jam, on a high cliff road in St Ives, Cornwall. My family were packed into the car after a day on the beach, crawling along stop-start-stop-start and then, suddenly, the houses to the left seemed to drop away, giving the most perfect view of the seaside town, directly through the lines of houses, all the way out to sea. “Look!” cried the children as I scrambled for my camera. It was fleeting, sudden, and then gone again, blocked off by rooftops.  A year later, I saw the exact same view – in an illustration by Alice. Cornwall is full of such moments, and Alice has a skill for capturing these transient scenes: the few seconds that a vast nine-foot hedge is broken by a gate leading to rolling green fields beyond, or jostling boats separating and calming so that Saint Michael’s Mount is clearly framed between a tangle of masts and rigging.

"St Ives Rooftops" by Alice Hole

“St Ives Rooftops” by Alice Hole

Alice’s illustrations take us on a journey through the centuries-old residential streets, whisking the viewer to places we know we would unlikely find by ourselves.   “I like to tell a story in my work and get a real sense of atmosphere,” says Alice, “I also like people to feel as if they could walk right into my pieces, as if they are a part of the picture themselves.”  One of Alice’s strengths is her ability to create a dramatic feeling of anticipation; the beautiful old pathways are not static, but feel so alive, our eyes are drawn towards corners and turns, she asks us to question – what path would we take?  Which direction would we choose?  What lies further down this road, beyond this gate?  We are there with her.

"Cathedral Lane - Truro" by Alice Hole

“Cathedral Lane – Truro” by Alice Hole

Although Alice now lives in Cornwall, she was actually “born, and grew up, in Brighton,” where she professes to loving art  “from as old as I could hold a pencil and brush!”  A degree in metals and textiles was a natural progression, “after being encouraged to do so by my Foundation year tutors” and whilst she “enjoyed playing with materials in 3D, my heart was always in my sketchbooks, and that was really where my best work was.”  Higher eduction complete, Alice worked part-time in a friend’s art and craft shop, and it here that she “started to develop [a] love of drawing buildings and scenes with a sense of history to them.”

"Porthleven Harbour" by Alice Hole

“Porthleven Harbour” by Alice Hole

It was after starting a family and relocating to Cornwall that Alice began to “really get into my art again,” keen to “try and make some sort of living from it, as that had always been my dream.  I was and am so inspired by Cornwall. It has such a rich landscape and history to it. I really wanted to capture the essence of Cornwall how I see it and for people to see it through my eyes in my drawings and paintings.”

It transpires that the grey scale illustrations that have become her trademark, are actually the result of serendipity:  “I tried out all different and new techniques for me, including felt [and] pastels,” then “stumbled upon Copic Ciao and Sketch markers and had a go. I could only afford a small pack of grey shades, but loved the results.  When I drew ‘Church Street, Helston’ using them, it seemed to have a very old world, historical feel to it, like an old photograph, which was exactly how I felt looking at the scene in real life!  I started to explore drawing more scenes tonally. It is a very interesting thing to do that and makes you concentrate on different things when you draw in that way.”

"Church Street Helston" by Alice Hole

“Church Street Helston” by Alice Hole

Most recently, in artworks such as “Newlyn Harbour,” she has “started to explore colour again, using acrylic inks and paint.”  There is an intense level of detailing and finesse in this piece, and of this Alice replies “people often comment on the level of detail in my work. That is not my main aim! I don’t try and make my work as detailed as possible.”  Her primary intention remains the same:   “wanting to capture the atmosphere of the place and tell a story.”

"Newlyn Harbour View" by Alice Hole

“Newlyn Harbour View” by Alice Hole

Alice has embraced social media, with nearing seven thousand followers on twitter alone, and she “loves” the immediacy of feedback, “[it’s] amazing how a painting or drawing can be viewed by so many people before you’ve even taken it off the drawing board! And I get so inspired seeing everybody else’s work too.”  Of the future she says, “I’m just going to do one drawing at a time of whatever interests me and see where it takes me!”


Artworks: Alice Hole


Article by: Beck @artistscribbles

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