Maddie Exton and Suzon Lagarde reflect on In the Studio’s visit to Alex Hirtzel idyllic studio in Royston, Hertfordshire.
In early July, In the Studio (ITS) made their final studio visit before their exhibition, to Alex Hirtzel’s converted barn in Royston, Hertfordshire. Hirtzel's multimedia work plays with the intersection between art and science, linking references from scientific research with historical artworks in order to create artworks that tell a narrative that references today. From 2015 to 2016, the artist was appointed the first-ever Artist in Residence for The Royal Parks, London working in partnership with Mall Galleries and the National Gallery.
Encased in wild, meandering gardens, ITS artist Suzon Lagarde described Hirtzel's studio as a “little heaven she has built for herself over time.” Lagarde recalls the artist's incredible generosity: "She had prepared the most delicious and colourful lunch, sprinkled with flowers picked from the garden.” Though it was her honesty and openness regarding "everything from her journey and practice without holding back any secrets," which Lagarde most appreciated.
Over lunch, Hirtzel shared some wisdom with her guests, expressing the joy she gets from teaching, “how it pushes her to go beyond any comfort zone, experimenting with new ideas and materials,” Lagarde says. She also stressed the importance of taking the “time to reflect on the direction you're heading: is this teaching not compromising your own practice? is your practice itself going where you'd like?”
In the Studio artist, Maddie Exton describes Hirtzel's studio as “the sort of place you wander into and wander out of a week later, judging it as hours.” Like Suzon, Maddie found herself in awe of Alex’s energy and passion: “It was infectious to be around someone who is excited about their studio and the importance of its function.” Exton reflects on the sometimes tricky balance of studio visits, in which ‘you can end up lingering too long on someone else's practice.” This wasn’t the case with Hirtzel, who “curated the whole day from the food to the talks, to the flower picking. It all felt so communal and introspective.”
Above all else, the studio visit made Exton feel at ease about pursuing her passion for art. “It's nice to see the art world doesn't cripple every artist within the first few years of their career,” Maddie concludes, “I got hope from Alex, and optimism, and an excitement for the future.”
The In the Studio programme will culminate in a group exhibition, taking place 12 to 17 August.