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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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