Originally from Auckland, New Zealand Alex Ramsdale, our resident Gallery Manager and art expert, spent four years working and living in London, UK, before putting down roots in Melbourne, where she has devoted her time representing artists and furthering her appreciation and understanding of art in the retail/commercial space. We are lucky to have her onboard to guide the direction and curation of our shows in our new Gallery Space.
1/ Tell me a little about your background and how you landed the role as Gallery Manager at Fenton & Fenton?
I came to work for Fenton & Fenton in 2019 after returning to Melbourne post a stint living abroad. I had been working at Tate Galleries in London as a retail manager for their exhibition shops and helped set up the high-end shop Tate Edit. Here we sold furniture and lighting by Jasper Morrison, alongside limited edition prints and other small homewares.
Fenton & Fenton was a natural progression. The playful and bold use of colour and pattern, as well as the opportunity to represent and sell the work of the many extremely talented Australian artists really excited me. I initially started as store manager, and then in 2021 when Lucy decided to open The Gallery, we both knew this was the dream job for me. And, here I am living out that dream each day.
2/ What do you look for when selecting artists to represent?
I look for uniqueness. It’s great seeing work by artists and thinking ‘I’ve never seen that before’. There should be a distinct style in the artwork that makes you recognise it almost immediately.
Other attributes can include an interesting use of colour, finesse in the composition or technique, and continuation of practice.
3/ Tell us a little about your personal art journey and practice?
I remember being recognised as a good painter at a very young age and continued to adore art making throughout my school career.
After completing a Postgraduate Bachelor of Visual Arts at AUT in Auckland I held a solo exhibition of paintings and drawings at Sanderson Gallery. I then moved to Melbourne soon after this.
I lived in Melbourne for just over a year and continued to paint and draw but did not pursue it as a career quite as wholeheartedly. My practice, when I make time for it, mainly consists of abstract oil painting inspired by nature and neo-impressionist pointillism. It is also colourful and fun.
When I moved to London I relished working at Tate Gallery and visited every exhibition I could, as well as many exhibitions held at some of my other favourite institutions: The V&A, Serpentine, Hayward Gallery, Courtauld and the many other commercial galleries.
It was here that I identified a purpose to my life: To increase the public’s enjoyment and understanding of art. My personal focus now is to support our artists, and to increase the understanding and enjoyment of their art.
4/ Who’s work are you coveting right now?
It is hard to say – with each exhibition passing I always find a piece that I want to take home with me! Isobel Rayson’s recent artworks are exceptional. I’ve also always loved Silvia Rotundo, Cate Maddy and Maryanne Moodie’s artworks too. I am also coveting one of the Rising Talent finalist’s work – Miranda Reilly. I’m very excited to see what she will produce.
5/ What have we got to look forward to at the Fenton & Fenton Gallery this year?
An exciting schedule of exhibitions involving some new and our beloved Fenton & Fenton artists, with workshops such as weaving basics held by Maryanne Moodie.