Hospitalfield House is an artists’ retreat in Arbroath, on Scotland’s east coast and is about twelve miles north of Dundee. Built on the site of a hospital for a monastery in the 13th Century, it was remodeled by Patrick Allen Fraser in 1850 as his private residence and a repository of his vast art collection. Upon his death it was bequeathed “for promotion of Education in the Arts in 1890.” Each artist in residence was allotted their own room in the main house and studio in one of the many buildings on the grounds. Meals were taken together in an informal dining room and a comfortable lounge was provided for relaxing. Artists in residence had access to many of the rooms of the main house, which still contain many of the original furnishings and art collection.
My first interview of the entire project was with Ali Kazim, a painter from Lahore, Pakistan. He was in residence at Hospitalfield and was gracious enough to allow me to interview him at length about his career and his work. Ali works in pigments and handmade paper. The humid Scottish weather was wrecking havoc on his routine as it took much longer for the paper to dry between washes. Added to that challenge a mouse was fond of the taste of his brushes. He worked in one of the painting studio sitting on the floor with a pillow at his back and his brushes and pigments spread around him. I found his paintings to be exotic, haunting and vibrant. His subject matter was mainly figures with piercing stares set in either stark white or vibrant solid colored backgrounds. Ali explained to me that his work is influenced greatly by Pakistani cinema painting. From what I gathered from our interview, Ali’s studio set up in Lahore is not very different than the simple set up he had at Hospitalfield House. The most important feature for him was natural light at his back. But he did dream of a studio where he could work in ceramics as well as paint.