July 7, 2022

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Artist Interview: Ali Barker | Cass Art

Ali Barker is a contemporary summary artist based in Liverpool.  She was the winner of Merseytravel’s ‘Art on the Network’ competitors in 2011, with two of her skyline murals of Liverpool and Wirral forever mounted on the panelling at either conclude of the Queensway (Birkenhead) Tunnel.  She held her first solo show ‘Four-Dimensional Colour’ in 2016, and concluded her MA in Great Art in 2019.

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Ali operates with a set palette of twelve colours to symbolize the colours she perceives as a result of her ordeals of the phenomenon of seem-color synaesthesia – when listening to new music, she perceives just about every notice of the musical scale as a unique color. She is motivated and determined by these activities, drawing on them and her musical qualifications (she performs the violin and the viola) to build her paintings. Commencing from her perceptions whilst listening to unique items and/or from the penned music, her procedure interprets melodies and excerpts into colourful paintings, ranging from gestural works to geometric styles.

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Hi Ali, many thanks so significantly for getting the time to converse to us, first of all could you notify us a little little bit about your journey as an artist?

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Sure, of class. My artistic journey is a minimal unconventional, as I did not analyze art at college – I had to opt for either artwork or audio to in shape in with three science topics, so I chose audio! My first degree and profession were science-centered, but, in my spare time, I ongoing to make artwork and take a look at galleries and exhibitions, as properly as engage in in community orchestras.

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In 2009 I made a decision to study A-stage artwork aspect-time, which is when I begun to explore the connections involving songs and art. A handful of decades later, immediately after 20 yrs in my past profession, I left that driving to emphasis on my artwork. I threw myself into researching Basis Artwork and Design and style for a 12 months, which enabled me to experiment with connecting my synaesthesia, my musical qualifications, and my artwork. Immediately after a couple of a long time of creating my observe on my individual, I researched element-time for a observe-dependent MA in Good Artwork, which supplied a framework to comprehend what is most essential to me in my exercise: my individual experiences of synaesthesia and of participating in and listening to music, and the processes I use to develop my function.

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Your do the job is intently tied to your expertise of synaesthesia when listening to music.  How do the seems translate into colours and shapes, is it rather literal to you or do you get anything unique from each unique piece of songs?

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The colours I perceive are often the very same for certain notes of the musical scale and they are the commencing point for my artworks. What I ‘see’ is tricky to describe in phrases (lots of synaesthetes obtain it tough to describe their ordeals) but could be explained as fleeting perceptions of dazzling colors in my mind’s eye. I really do not consider my synaesthesia to be a ‘condition’, somewhat an ‘addition’ to my every day daily life. The patterns and designs in my work are not literal reproductions of my ordeals I attract on my musical track record and use the specific colors I perceive as the stimulus for my artworks in reaction to particular parts of audio. I am usually affected by the music I am rehearsing/undertaking, as effectively as the huge vary of music I hear to, or music selected by a shopper for a fee.

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The system I make use of to establish and build the get the job done tends to require two methods of working, which I refer to as expressive and geometric. The expressive operates are spontaneous, involving listening to the audio and putting down paint in the colors perceived, layering the various coloured marks and/or manipulating the paint on the area in response to the condition or come to feel of the new music. In distinction, the geometric works can choose months or months to acquire through drawings and sketches in advance of remaining executed as a ultimate portray. These translational paintings use the colors I perceive in geometric styles representing excerpts or melodies from the written songs. Just lately my geometric operates (these as the two Mahler paintings in my Cass Artwork exhibition) have been checking out the visible interweaving of two or much more musical themes.

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You have mentioned your operate is quite much procedure-pushed, but are there any artists or movements that you have located to be an influence on your art exercise?

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It was a portray by Wassily Kandinsky (also thought to have been a synaesthete) that first sparked my interest in looking into the connections involving audio and art: he painted Impact III (Live performance) in 1911 as his response to listening to a concert of new audio by the composer Arnold Schoenberg. It was this analysis throughout my A-level scientific tests which aided me to understand that my ordeals have been synaesthesia, and to start out to set down the colours I perceive in paint and outline my musical color scale. I feel in the early levels of establishing my exercise, lots of early 20th century artists motivated my work, including Kandinsky, Paul Klee (also a violinist), and the Australian artist Roy de Maistre (who experimented with translating whole items of new music into color from 1919 onwards). Wondering about far more modern artists, Bridget Riley’s sequences of coloured stripes, and the significant, vibrant paintings of the late John Hoyland (also born in Sheffield!) have additional typically influenced my paintings. Gerhard Richter’s geometric styles of colored squares, as effectively as his manipulation of paint on a surface area, have also motivated both of those of my techniques of operating – similarly, I really don’t sense I want to limit myself to only doing the job in a single way, I are inclined to switch between the two for durations of time.

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What sorts of elements would you say are integral to your operate?

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I use specific paint colors, typically straight from the tube to hold them cleanse and bright – my perceptions of colour are dazzling, so I consider to reproduce the colors as carefully as doable and restrict employing the duller colours of mixed paint. Just one colour I perceive I would explain as a shimmering pink-brown, so following much experimentation, I settled on utilizing copper paint to represent that notice. I predominantly use Liquitex paints, as they can provide me with the variety of particular colors I have to have – my go-to paint is Soft System, but I have also made use of their Spray Paint, Acrylic Ink, and Acrylic Gouache, as well as a wide variety of their Professional mediums to make the regularity and translucency/opacity I want for distinct parts. When doing the job on canvas, sturdy stretcher bars are critical – the Cass Artwork stretcher bars operate well for me, occur in a extensive range of measurements, are straightforward to set with each other and are potent ample not to warp, which is very important for my geometric work!

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Your murals for the Art on the Network competition are an legendary section of the Merseyside landscape.  What is it like to have your get the job done as a long-lasting general public artwork set up?

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I was a little bit confused when I gained the levels of competition! It was throughout my aspect-time A-stage research, ahead of I’d taken the plunge to leave my former profession. My electronic layouts were being used by the corporation who created all the panels for the tunnel refurbishment undertaking they screen-printed and fired the colours in vitreous enamel on to the stainless-steel supports. They ended up installed more than ten many years back but need to very last a very long time. My original Liverpool Composition and Wirral Composition paintings are, understandably, not for sale, but are however available as constrained-version prints. I dwell on the Liverpool facet of the Mersey, but have various connections to Wirral, particularly through audio, so I get to journey past my artwork very often! 

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Ultimately, what is in retail store for you for the rest of 2022? Something you can let us in on?

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In Oct, I will be Artist in Residence for the Wirral Arts Festival 2022. I’ll be functioning with an orchestra and some other musical groups who are accomplishing at the competition, creating artwork in reaction to some of the items they approach to participate in in their concerts and then exhibiting the concluded paintings at the concerts. In point, some of the functions on paper in my latest exhibition at Cass Artwork Liverpool ended up manufactured during very last year’s festival.

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If not, I am content material to be largely acquiring new get the job done this year, reflecting on and continuing from tips that arose from my 6-week solo exhibition and residency challenge in an artist-led space in Liverpool past summer season. I am also starting up to glance to some possible exhibition alternatives in 2023 and 2024. There are generally team exhibitions to use for in the course of the calendar year, so I’ll see what else comes up!

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Feeling Inspired?

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Ali’s exhibition ‘Musicals to Mahler’ is at Cass Artwork Liverpool right up until 17th June 2022.  You can see much more of Ali’s get the job done on her website alibarker.com  Be absolutely sure to follow her on Fb and Instagram @alibarkerart

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