Alex Beattie – Living Room Dreaming – Inspiration and Process
This is my living room.
Until 2020, I really didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. It was a place to come back to at the end of the day – to dump stuff in, and to relax. A space to gently procrastinate on Sunday mornings, while working out what to do. It had things that I liked. A sofa. A TV. And a window that, if you looked through it at an angle, you could just about see Alexandra Palace on a hilltop in the distance.
But then March 2020 happened, and everything changed. When so many of the other spaces of our lived existence were closed, restricted or experienced through masks, this space became a nurturing presence. It didn’t mean that I wasn’t aware of things happening elsewhere in the world, through the insistent drip-feed of the internet. It was just that here, time had slowed.
It gave me the feeling that I wanted to connect with this room, in a way I hadn’t before.
That started with a sketch – the meditative process of looking and recording; capturing the cluttered geometry of a lived space that I had come to know in intimate detail.
Then – thanks to the good people at Print Club London, who kept their studio open, the brush-drawn sketch turned into a silkscreen print, converting those simple black lines into full multi-layer colour.
After that, the daydreaming started, and the room started to fill with life.
But an oddly specific type of life.
Feeding on a binge diet of YouTube videos and Instagram shorts, I’d have expected my brain to pack the room with everything and anything. Yet clearly something deeply geek had been triggered, because the life emerging into my living room had travelled in from roughly 450 million years ago – from the teeming reefs of the Palaeozoic oceans.
Sponges. Jellyfish. A three-foot sea scorpion lurking behind the rocks. An ancient jawless vertebrate drifting languidly across my field of view. And an Orthoceras – a distant shelled ancestor of squid and octopus – looking back from the bookshelf.
Like the previous image, I produced it as a multi-layer silkscreen print.
As a process it’s painstaking, it takes ages, and you’re constantly at risk of screw-ups that can mercilessly ruin several days’ work. But what it gives you in return is this intense juiciness of colour that I haven’t been able to achieve through any other method.
Here, in 6 progress shots, the individual layers of transparent pigment are added one by one, slowly building up the depth and vibrancy.
…And here’s the final reveal – lifting the screen after the final layer, to find the finished print beneath. The dreaming is complete.
Alex Beattie is an artist and printmaker, whose hand-drawn silkscreen works draw the viewer into celestial dreamscapes of colour, symbolism and the supernatural. He takes inspiration from everything and anything – Byzantine mosaic to socialist poster art, Hokusai to videogames – but ultimately what he’s looking to capture in each work is some aspect of how it feels to be human: how we experience the universe, and how we look for meaning in it.