Alex Hartley

British artist who confronts our experiences and understanding of the built and natural environments

Alex Hartley during the 2004 Expedition, Svalbard.

During the 2004 Art/Science expedition Alex Hartley began the work Nymark (Undiscovered Island), a photographic piece that echoes the journeys of the early Arctic explorers in describing the process of finding and naming a ‘new’ island; one only uncovered in the last five years by a retreating glacier. The work toured internationally with the Art & Climate Change exhibition.

In October 2009 nowhereisland was announced the winning Artists Taking the Lead project for the South West of England, the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad’s most ambitious event. Alex Hartley developed the work begun in 2004, transporting the island of Nymark and sailing it to the ports and harbours of the South West of England. Find out more at the project website:

On the morning of the twentieth we traversed the glacial edge in the Noorderlicht coming within an arm’s distance of the towering blue face. Then, after breakfast, we turned our backs on our newly discovered territory and set sail for points south. It was with a heavy heart and a tear in my eye that I watched it disappear. This land so newly revealed, land which has lain below the crushing weight of the ice for thousands of years, land on which no human had ever stood. This new land, so freshly released, was indeed our land, and part of me was left behind there…”

Blog by Alex Hartley during the 2004 expedition

Well known for his encased photographs of the interiors of galleries, tower blocks and fictitious structures, Alex pursues in his work an innovative dialogue with iconic modernist architecture. Often, Alex’s wall based works are sculptural photographic compositions, with images of architectural spaces set inside etched glass boxes creating a haunting, illusory depth. Concerned with the representation of space, these fractured images cleverly toy with two and three dimensions simultaneously.

Alex has also developed monumental architectural installations that create a disorientating fictional space that both perplexes and seduces the viewer. Long interested in the relationship and interdependence between architecture and nature, Hartley most recently has produced photographic works with sculptural architectural elements built up on the surfaces, turning images of actual landscapes into surreal studies of fantastic architectural forms.

Art & Climate Change exhibition
Burning Ice – the book
About the 2005 Art/Science expedition
About the 2004 Art/Science expedition

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