By Graham Chalmers
The first time you meet the quietly-spoken but persuasive Harrogate-born Alister Colley you realise he’s not only a talented artist, he’s also a natural at marketing.
Operating from his bright and attractive studio in Pateley Bridge’s King Street impressive complex of offices and workshops, he’s been putting that skill to good use not in the service of installation or conceptual art like those famous rogues of the YBA movement of the 1990s, Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin, but for the rediscovered pleasures of illustrative and fine art.
His rise was swift after graduating from Leeds Beckett University with a degree in art and design only a short decade ago.
Despite doing things his way and turning down some of the obvious routes to success, his vibrant, quirky and fun art has seen him become a Fine Art Trade Guild Awards finalist five times since then.
Having been chosen as the official Grand Depart Tour de France last year, he produced the first-ever official Grand Depart painting.
It became a massive success, highlighting Alister’s natural command of the sometimes conflicting needs of art and commerce.
A sensational last 12 months have seen Alister’s company Zeitgeist Fine Art Ltd transform itself with the help of his wife and managing director Claire, and sales and marketing director Tom Barber.
Originally a publishing house and gallery purely for his own work, it’s now threatening to become something broader and, potentially, bigger for the community.
Currently working with three local artists, Alister is now focused on helping talented young artists make their way to the market place in a less soul-destroying way than is normal.
Alister said: “We know that allowing the market dictate what an artist produces can be a stranglehold on their development. So we give them creative control over the production of their collections. We let the artist progress and evolve without interference.”
No narrow blueprint, Alister’s intentions can by judged by the exciting young artists he has signed so far.
Ripon’s Kate Hunt is 20 and produces lush art exploring water on skin, though her latest work is already showing a major change of direction.
Pateley Bridge’s Izzy Hodge is a traditional illustrator par excellence, tapping into the British love of books like Wind in the Willows in a charming and original way.
Fellow Pateley artist Joseph Hayton is 27 and produces stunningly authentic classical sculpture in bronze of horses and more.
Alister said: “The art-buying community are much more sophisticated than a lot of art publishers give them credit for They don’t want to be patronised by having an exhausted theme thrust upon them. We aim to provide for their needs by protecting the exclusivity of our artists and letting them grow.”