Alex Williams was born in 1942 into a family and in a town where artists were treated with all the wariness with which you would treat exotic creatures escaped from the zoo. This book is the story of difficulties overcome both to become an artist and to make a successful living as an artist. Neither has been achieved without cost. The places where Alex has lived, studied, worked and drawn inspiration are set in their social and geographical contexts: small town Huntingdonshire, London at the start of the 1960s, California, Wales, the Welsh borders and the west country. There are glimpses of the young David Hockney and Francis Bacon, as well as Alex's teacher Peter Blake. Alex also played a part in Richard Booth's transformation of Hay on Wye into a book town and independent kingdom. Alex has kept a portfolio of his work all his life and the quality of the photographs in the book is superb. Not only do they show his progression as an artist, but they also illustrate the variety of work that he has done. The text by Liz Hodgkinson is eminently readable: she has written a skilful and honest narrative of the life and also provided a technical explanation of the art which is accessible to the general reader.
I knew Alex many years ago when he was a struggling student at St. Martins School in London. A moody, intense boy who was a wonderful mimic. He was my room mate for a short period and I still remember some of his early paintings. We both moved to Hampstead and I lost contact with him as he moved among his circle of artist friends. Liz hodgkinson's book is quite a masterpiece in itself. She has researched Alex's life and work with great integrity and the reproductions of the paintings are really excellent. I know that Alex had a tough time with his father's failure to accept the artist son and I was so delighted to see that Alex had overcome much of his early insecurity and become a confident speaker, teacher and painter of such diversity. This account of Alex's life and work is truly delightful to read and I heartily recommend it. Well done, my old friend, and by the way you still owe me half a crown!