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Meet Alexander James Hamilton of Distil Ennui Studio

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexander James Hamilton.

Alexander James, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In the very early days as a young artist going as far back as 1984, I was traveling to remote places rough sleeping on beaches around the world building sculptural works from washed up and natural materials, taking them underwater and creating interventions on endangered or recently dynamited reef systems. This happened a lot in the past, often hotel developers would buy land with difficult beaches reef systems, and forcibly remove them to make way for softer waves and sandier beaches. I saw this first hand and it immediately moved me to action. Both in advance of the reefs destruction and afterwards as a moment mori for what was.

Most of these underwater installations were well offshore and difficult to swim to, so photography was used to fix and extend the work and allow others to access to its outcome and reasoning. The decision that water was to be my medium as an artist was set in those early days; it was difficult work and often dangerous. Freediving alone offshore, and tanked on deeper dives and always alone; sometimes the materials would fight me in their bid to stay afloat, and often there were inquisitive & sometimes unwelcoming receptions waiting for me. I dived exhaustively at least four times a day for four years working, dreaming and thinking underwater for this length of time had made its mark on me.

This was a time when there were so many fish in the ocean in vast shoals, now humans are clustered together in huge numbers on land just like the fish I remember; and now the big fish shoals are gone. Of that I am sure.

Now plastic pollution has taken such a grip on the most delicate and vibrant underwater worlds, this compulsion I feel has grown exponentially for me in my underwater world.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
God no… ‘smooth road’ this made me chuckle, but every step a completely satisfying one even the shitty self-doubting moments – there have been to many to talk about while sober.. but perhaps life affecting personal injuries, being attacked by shark and a feisty Portuguese man of war and sometimes even unwelcoming locals from the islands themselves.

I have never taken a holiday, never.; when I travel I am always working, the only way for an artist to be just that; is to work day and night, immersed in the process….

Do you have any idea how lonely that can be…?
Monastic dedication from the very beginning.

I am so tired of seeing artists just squish something out of a tube or take everything to shortcut to the result. Without the journey, you end nowhere. Without personal servitude, the art world can all too easily become a moral leper colony.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Distil Ennui Studio – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
My studio is driven by interests in field observation, scientific discovery with a prominence in exploring the liquid mechanics of water. I believe it is my role is to make the concerns of art relevant to society at large. A crucial means for turning thinking into doing in the world. Spanning sculpture, painting, photography, film, lighting, and installation. Not limited by the architectural confines of the art world, my practice engages the broader public sphere through interventions within natural landscapes and civic spaces alike, arts education, policy-making, issues of sustainability and ecocide.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am planning a new project in LA, taking over a disused space to flood a 200 tonne tank of water, where I will be acid bathing several American motoring classics including cars and trucks; the acid bath will remove all colouring and paintwork until they are just bare metal allowing them to be pure architectural design forms coloured only in black and silver colour swatches.

There are so many beautiful design classics in the American motoring world, we get so lost in the shiny, drivable elementals of them that we lose focus from the form itself; I am so looking forward to seeing this long-planned project come to life.


  • Works on paper 60×42 cms from $380
  • Museum framed works from $2,000

Contact Info:

All Rights Reserved © 1990 – 2017 Alexander James Distil Ennui Studio®

All Rights Reserved © 1990 – 2017 Alexander James Distil Ennui Studio®

All Rights Reserved © 1990 – 2017 Alexander James Distil Ennui Studio®

All Rights Reserved © 1990 – 2017 Alexander James Distil Ennui Studio®

Image Credit:
All images © 1990-2019 Alexander James Hamilton, Distil Ennui Studio ™ ®

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