Life With: Alex Tieghi-Walker
Alex Tieghi-Walker (curator and gallerist, owner of TIWA Select) used to be an editor at publications such as Wallpaper*, NOWNESS and Dazed, but when he moved to Northern California he was inspired by the type of art made by artists who were in touch with nature, just like Tieghi-Walker himself, he impulsively opened up a gallery to represent these artist who didn’t have a place to show their art. For Alex Tieghi-Walker life is about surrounding yourself with stories. Stories from art, nature and found objects.
I’m interested in people who collect. People who put themselves in an environment of objects and art that inspires them. When I was in Japan, I visited the Kawai Kanjiro house. He was a ceramist working from around 1910 through to the 60’s, and his cave-like home is filled with objects and ceramics—works that inspired him, and little things that he collected over his life. Just seeing all these kind of objects in one place that really characterizes and define someone’s work and mission in life, I think is amazing. Each object is a sentence in a much richer full story.
Another big joy for me is to go on studio visits. The artist’s studio is this physical manifestation of what’s going on inside of their head. It helps you understand what the artists story is and why they are making the work they are making. What they are looking for in the world before making art.
I collect a lot of things myself. The walls of my home are covered in art featuring faces and people, who tell different stories. A lot of objects I collect are functional, some with archaic functions; perhaps they would have been objects used on a farm or in a kitchen. These very specific craft objects have been an inspiration for a lot of modern designers and artist; they teach you about history, and are also very beautiful to look at.
I think good taste is about honesty. When I think of bad taste, I think of people not being genuine to themselves. Taste is something that should be very personal, and it should relate to the world that you have seen and experienced, and the moment you start trying to be someone else that’s when it becomes bad taste. I look around my home and I don’t have expensive design pieces at all, a lot of the things I have its very humble. Things I found on flea markets, on the streets, or I know the person who made it. I just prefer this quiet side of taste.
I was a writer and editor for more than ten years, writing mostly about food, lifestyle and travel; I also touched on architecture, art, and design. As a journalist, you got to experience creativity and innovation right from the source. You are meeting these people who are doing interesting things. I never intended to open a gallery. My father was an artist, and when you are growing up you never want to do what your parents do. I did not reject arts—I was definitely a creative child—but I never considered working in art. It wasn’t until I moved to Northern California that certain creative and artistic processes resonated with me. It was very in touch with nature of the region.
As a child, I spent lot of my time in the countryside. We’d hike in the Alps or the Welsh mountains, go sailing … Swim in lakes or rivers … My parents wanted me to get a full understanding of the world around me. It’s good to immerse yourself in as many ways as possible. I think nature has probably been my biggest inspiration. I’m really drawn to artists that are resourceful with the materials they are using. For the most parts they are making functional objects and using natural materials and traditional crafting technics. But are also experimental with their materials and incorporating found objects and materials into their work. I work with some ceramist who are making their own glaze. Andrée Singer Thompson finds broken glass on the floor and incorporates it in her work. And Vince Skelly forages his own wood —he’ll wait for a storm, or for trees to fall, and then he’ll go out and pick them up to work with.
I still find nature a very necessary part of my life and one of the hardest things about moving to New York away from California was that my access to nature has been so much more limited. I think nature is a very calming reflecting moment for me. I’m very social, I’m often around people. But in nature I’m often alone. I like to do road trips. I loved to drive out to the dessert and the Eastern Sierras when I was living in California. Incredible places that provide you a bit more context in life. They make you feel very small. Being able to reflect and find somewhere that calms you down, gives you a moment to figure things out. And to get great ideas.