Fine Arts student Alex Matthews has had a great final year at Whitecliffe. She was Overall Winner at the prestigious Eden Arts Art Schools Awards in August and just exhibited her final installation of works before graduation at our 2014 Whitecliffe End of Year Exhibitions in November.
In terms of what inspires and motivates Alex, she claims, “I have to be my own motivation. I get so excited about new projects and ideas and that’s definitely what pushes me to keep making and finish work. I love seeing the end result, I’m a little bit impatient in that way. I am inspired by the things around me; my family, friends, new places, movies, and music. Sometimes it will just be little things, like a billboard with layers… layers of posters or birds flying together that inspires me.”
At the moment, Alex’s body of work creates a narrative between found images and objects. She says, “I like the idea of making something that is open-ended, so that the viewers can make up their own minds without being told what to think. Presentation strategies are getting a little bit crazy now that I am experimenting with the images and objects a little bit more, but that’s really exciting for me. I like not knowing what the end result will be, which is a new thing for me. Before when I would make work, it would all be preplanned way in advance, but this is a much more creative and exciting way of working.”
Alex was raised in Cambridge, made famous for horse breeding and rowing, and attended St. Peter’s School, and then went onto Cambridge High. Alex’s art teacher at Cambridge High encouraged her to pursue the arts and attend Whitecliffe. “Art was always something I was interested in and passionate about. I think I got it from both sides of the family, my mother and my grandmother (on my father’s side) are both very artistic, so I guess I just kind of grew up with it. At the time, I was also interested in pursuing tertiary study in Wellington, but eventually made the decision to move to Auckland to stay closer to my family and baby sister.” Alex made the big move from the countryside town of Cambridge to the big city of Auckland upon her acceptance at Whitecliffe.
Commenting on her time at Whitecliffe, she said, “my experience has been a bit rocky so far. I took a year off between second and third year, so I could get out of Auckland for a bit. It was definitely the best thing for me. Being able to clear my head and come back focused on what I want to do was really helpful.” What she enjoys most about studying at Whitecliffe is all of the lecturers’ dedication to teaching. Alex adds “they have been so helpful in guiding us all in the right direction.”
Her advice to potential students considering studying at Whitecliffe “would be to try it out. The great thing about the first year at Whitecliffe is that you get to study a little bit of each art discipline, so you can really figure out what is best for you. Be experimental while also being consistent would be my overall advice.” Within the next five to ten years, Alex says that art will remain her main focus and hopes to keep her art practice alive through participation in group and solo shows. She continues, “I would like to have my MFA within the next five years. I think making a name for myself is my main goal, like most of the students here, and that all depends on how hard I work between now and then.”