A WINNING FORMULA
beyond catches up with old friend Alan Walsh – the Yorkshire artist who has been wowing the world with his brilliant artwork and discover how he’s now gone all ‘ooh la la’ on us after moving to Monaco and setting up a stunning new gallery.
For a boy who grew up surrounded by the glamour of motor racing and the bright lights of the fashion industry, it perhaps comes as no great surprise to find Harrogate artist Alan Walsh now enjoying the high life in Monaco.
Inspired by a lifetime closely involved with the exciting world of Formula One, he finally fulfilled his lifetime dream of moving to the Principality playground three years ago.
And it is there in his stunning new gallery where Walsh brings those iconic F1 images and Riviera characters to life through his incredible artwork.
With his Andy Warhol meets Art Deco style and the explosion of vibrancy and colour he brings to his paintings, Walsh has spent the past 20 years creating a global name for himself.
It is a journey that has taken him around the world and seen him work with brands such as Aston Martin, Coca Cola, Tag Heuer and Porsche; create his own drinks business The Artisan Drinks Co and work on projects with the likes of Sir Jackie Stewart and David Coulthard.
But after 15 years living and working in Australia, he and his wife Emily made the decision to move to the French Riviera in 2019 and settle in the place he always dreamed of one day living.
It was a calling he says he has had since childhood when he would travel to Monaco, Monza and Spa with his parents to enjoy the Grand Prix glitz and marvel at the movers, shakers and fashionistas who filled the glamorous world of motor racing.
Alan recalled: “My dad was a racing car engineer supporting the F1 teams, so I grew up with motorsport, the people who followed it and the glamour that came with the luxury brands sponsoring the cars.
“Some of my earliest and fondest memories were of travelling across Europe with my parents to these incredible places and not only did I love the racing but I was mesmerized by the fashion, the styles, the atmosphere and the buzz surrounding all these stylish people. It is those memories that have always stayed with me and what have proved to be the inspiration for so much of my work.
“I always wanted to be a part of this world and if you look at my art, much of it is linked directly to those bold colours of the advertising brands that sponsored those iconic cars back in the 80s and 90s like the bright yellow Senna Lotus and the red Marlboro Mclaren which are still colours I use today.”
Their arrival in Monaco couldn’t have come at a worse time though and within months of setting up a home and gallery, the world went into lockdown and his dreams of launching and establishing a business were left hanging by a thread.
The 38-year-old Yorkshireman said: “It was obviously a tough time for everybody and having worked so hard to set up the gallery and gain a working permit, we were left financially and emotionally drained. Monaco was like a ghost town and we were left wondering whether we had made a terrible mistake.”
But as one door closed, another door quite literally opened and presented Alan with an opportunity that would go onto change his fortunes.
It was a chance encounter with ex F1 driver David Coulthard who walked into his gallery one day during the pandemic that resulted in him commissioning a piece from Alan which in turn led to a number of celebrity clients from the world of sport, showbiz and royalty buying his art.
From that moment on, the couples’ fortunes slowly began to turn and by the end of 2020 he had even tied up a deal to become the resident artist at the luxury Riviera hotel, The Martinez in Cannes.
He added: “Ever since I first saw that hotel I have always been fascinated by its’ iconic art deco features and the fact it has such a history as the first luxury hotel on the Riviera, so I decided to contact the hotel, donated them one of my pieces and told them that I’d love to work with them.”
Fast forward a few years and he is the now the official resident artist of the hotel where his work decorates every floor of the famous establishment with his giant portrait of hotel founder Emanual Martinez proudly hanging in the lobby.
Alan said: “Our brands work well together with my art reflecting the elegance and luxury of the Riviera which is what The Martinez is all about and it has allowed me to showcase my work to a much bigger audience.
“I think the lockdown made people appreciate art more than before and hopefully my work has brought a much-needed smile, some positivity and brightness to the world again.”
Having now moved into a second gallery following the collapse of the building they initially rented, Alan and Emily are now planning to expand their art offerings into luxury soft furnishing and homewares with plans for a large UK exhibition in the pipeline for next year.
He added: “We’re going to spend the next few years building up our presence and reputation in Monaco and focus on the sporting themes that are so relevant to this part of the world – GP, yachts and cycling – all those things are on our doorstep and it’s a place which since childhood has never failed to inspire me.”
For a boy who grew up immersed in the glamour and glitz of the French Riviera, it seems only fitting he’s now finally found his home in the place which has always had such a special place in his art.