At Home With Art Dealer, Alex Macarthur.
Alex Macarthur has more than 30 years’ experience in sourcing remarkable antiques and interior decor for her worldwide clientele of collectors, interior designers and hotel designers. She lives and runs her business from an incredible 14th century Grade II listed Monastery in the middle of the Citadel of Rye in East Sussex, a magnet for creative people.
Earlier this month our Decorcafe club members were honoured to be invited to meet Alex for a personal tour, to hear her inspiring story and the remarkable journey of how she has successfully turned the monastery into a truly magical interiors emporium, as well as home for her and her three gorgeous dogs: Quin, the Great Dane, (above) Mimi, the French Bulldog (below) and Toby the Jack Russel (not pictured).
The first thing we discovered is that nothing about Alex and her business is average or predictable. From the breadth of the collection of exceptional art, antiques and interior decor through to the very fabric of the building Alex has chosen to house them in, everything has a surprising and interesting element, an unusual detail and a story to tell. Her passion and unique creativity is expressed in every item she sources. Selected not just for the impact they make, their quality and original style, but for the emotion and excitement they generate within. Alex has a personal relationship with every piece and, somewhat heart-warmingly, revealed that each one reflects a different facet of her own personality.
Alex has owned the monastery for five years. It is a remarkable backdrop for her unique collection of carefully curated antiques, interior decor and art from around the globe, open to be viewed by special appointment. It is also used for film, photographic shoots and available for hire for special events. She lives in the attached Georgian cottage.
Before buying the monastery Alex had successful business premises in Brighton, but had been aspiring to find a church to use as her work-space. She identified her very specific search parameters, which many would have thought unattainable:
- a landmark ecclesiastical building
- both architecturally interesting and industrial,
- a lateral space
- lots of access points
- a walled garden for her beloved dogs.
- It also needed to be in East Sussex.
Quite a challenge. Remarkably just two weeks after setting her criteria, as if it was simply meant to be, the monastery came on the market. Destiny.
Built in the 14th century the monastery was converted for various utilitarian uses at the beginning of the twentieth century, creating an extraordinary combination of monastic and brutal industrial architecture.
Divided into two floors, the original 14th century architecture is dominant on the first floor with four stone tracery windows and lofty chapel proportions with the distance from the floor to the apex of the roof measuring 8.7 meters.
Sadly the first floor was closed for refurbishment when we visited as a group. The industrial ground floor is equally impressive. Chunky riveted iron beams span the ceiling and factory style doors lead to the main large garden with its huge ancient tree providing privacy.
Alex constantly fuels her creativity as new pieces are purchased and sold, and the space develops and new styles evolve. Nothing stands still.
For more inspiration, please do take a look at the pics from our visit in the gallery below, or visit alexmacarthur.co.uk to find out more about the location and unique pieces currently available for sale.