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Alison Stirling: Pylonlove

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Hello! It is an honour to be featured Artist on Duncan Grant’s website. I am a great admirer of his work. I have several pieces on my walls, as you may know, they are as addictive to buy as I am sure they are to make. His industrial landscapes are something I can connect with in my own Art work.

My name is Alison Stirling and I paint pylons. My interest stems back to childhood holidays when my dad quit his job and bought a van to drive us around Europe on the cheap. We spent hours and days on motorways. He wanted us to see the Colosseum, Pompeii, the Sistine chapel, but I’d be as fascinated by the journey as the destination – to me, the pylons, the ring roads, the concrete service stations were Disneyland!

Not much has changed in that respect. This year following an exhibition, I went trekking in Peru to research a new series of paintings, ‘Pylons of Peru’.Alison Stirling, artist, on the Inca Trail in Peru

I had wanted to walk the Inca trail for some time and I am interested in how human intervention shapes a landscape. After three days of climbing and descending passes at altitude (one unnervingly named ‘The Dead Woman’s Pass’) through awe-inspiring but unavoidably knackering landscape I found that my legs were reluctant to move. The guide, realising that my pace had slowed down came back. He clearly thought about creative ways to get the part-time hikers moving. ‘If you keep going for half an hour we reach an amazing Inca trail site…..and there’s a pylon,” he said. Pylons and mountains and stairs, oh my! Not even the snake, spectacled bear and poisonous frog shifted me that fast!

Alison Stirling, artist, 'The Pylons of Peru'I get various people taking an interest in my work, not only Art lovers and buyers but as I discovered there’s a whole world of pylon enthusiasts out there, some seriously knowledgeable hardcore spotters – knowing your L2 from your L12 doesn’t even scratch the surface. I started following various groups on social media such as the pylon appreciation society headed by the fabulous Flash Bristow. She brings together all kinds of people, whatever the angle (ahem), spotters, line workers, pylon painters, model makers.

There are other group too pylonspostsandlines, justpylonthings, and my favourite, the Japanese group steeltower_artistic I get some unexpected interest. I’m equally likely to get a ‘like’ or a comment from Bill the lines man in Wyoming as I am from someone interested in painting.

Alison Stirling, artist, paints pylonsI have often wondered what it would be like to be an actual pylon painter. (I once read about an Artist who compared himself to a shepherd because of the solitary nature of the process.) When I am painting, after I’ve had my fun putting down the loose brushstrokes for the sky or a wild landscape, I get down to the long painstaking task of creating tiny geometric lines, constructing the pylon. I tend to work for six hours at a time. If my eyes feel raw, like they are on stalks, by the end of it then it has probably been successful. Alisin Stirling, artist, paints pylonsHowever, the reality is that my work takes place indoors (much of the time) with a strong cup of tea to hand, I’m not dangling 165 feet in the air, inches away from 400,00 volt electricity cables in icy weather. Mind you, if Turner supposedly strapped himself to a mast in a storm … this space!

If you’d like to see more of Alison’s work, including her stunning cooling towers, or if you’d like to know where she is exhibiting, visit her website or follow her on Instagram Facebook or Twitter

You can also contact Alison directly about commissions or exhibitions at

Coming soon….In part two of her guest blog – coming soon – Alison describes how her love of pylons took her all the way to exhibiting  at the 2019 Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition. If you’d like to receive a notification when Alison posts again, please subscribe to this website by putting your email in the box above and clicking on the link you receive in reply.

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Updates: Christmas cards, book cover, spotted in Japan and chewing gum

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A few updates to give you in this blog.

Christmas cards
In April, I put out a call for designs for Christmas cards to raise money for Christmas dinner, this year, at No. 84 Tearoom and Eatery at Echo Square in Gravesend  Owners Adrian and Andrea offer a free Chrstmas dinner to anyone in the local community who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day. Well, the cards have been printed and boxed up. They are available on this website and in various venues around the Gravesend Riverarea, including (more sellers to be added soon) or you can get them from me directly, if you know where to find me.

There are 42 original card designs, plus envelopes, in each box. Boxes costs £20 (plus postage and packing if you order them from the website). All profits go to helping those less fortunate than ourselves this Christmas. You can find out more about the 2019 Christmas card project here

A big thank-you to everyone who took part! These pictures posted by Cafe No.84 from last year’s Christmas dinner, show the impact the money we raise can have

Book cover – The Milkman by Anna Burns
In May, I found out that one of the prints from my winning #LibertyOpenCall Small Town fabric design had been chosen for the cover of a special edition of Faber & Faber’s Booker Prize winning publication, Milkman by Anna Burn.

Each year Faber & Faber bring out a classic book, covered in a Liberty fabric (actual fabric, not a picture of it) from the year of publication. This year’s book was to be Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, which was first published in 1963.  But because of their Booker Prize success with Milkman, Faber & Faber published an extra edition this year and my Small Town design was in the right place at the right time when they asked Liberty, ‘Have you got anything with houses on it?’

Last week Milkman it appeared in the shops, followed closely by a gift wrapped copy through my letterbox.


Spotted in Japan….
Small Towns have been spotted in Japan!
Japanese company AmandaMandy seems to have bought a lot of different Liberty fabrics and is turning them into objects for sale – anyone for a Small Town water bottle holder, or a handy fabric covered notebook?

Ben Wilson: Chewing gum man
Artist Ben Wilson completes his latest miniature artwork on chewing gumThree weeks ago my blog featured artist, Ben Wilson aka ‘Chewing Gum Man’ 
Ben paints mini-artworks on discarded chewing gum and at that time was working his way down the Millenium Bridge just outside Tate Modern. My sister Annie met up with him again last week and was pleased to report that he’d reached the door of the Tate. His Kickstarter project to raise funds to produce a book of the Millenium Bridge Chewing Gum Trail reached its total, with just four days to go. Congratulations!

Tate Modern has agreed to allow Ben to hide some of his artwork around the gallery. You can see those pieces and keep up with his project on Instagram. benwilsonchewingumman

Think that’s all the updates for now! I’m trying to add some new artwork to my gallery – some of the stuff I’ve been posting on Facebook and Instagram lately – but have encountered a technical problem. Will let you know when I’ve managed to upload them, or check in here over the next few days