March 5, 2024

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Artist Interview: Ali Barker | Cass Art

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

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Ali will work with a set palette of twelve colors to characterize the colors she perceives via her experiences of the phenomenon of seem-color synaesthesia – when listening to tunes, she perceives each be aware of the musical scale as a certain color. She is influenced and inspired by these ordeals, drawing upon them and her musical track record (she performs the violin and the viola) to create her paintings. Setting up from her perceptions although listening to specific pieces and/or from the composed new music, her process interprets melodies and excerpts into vibrant paintings, ranging from gestural operates to geometric styles.

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Hello Ali, many thanks so considerably for taking the time to communicate to us, to start with could you explain to us a minimal bit about your journey as an artist?

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Indeed, of study course. My inventive journey is a minimal unconventional, as I did not review artwork at university – I experienced to opt for either art or tunes to match in with three science subjects, so I selected songs! My to start with degree and job ended up science-based mostly, but, in my spare time, I continued to make artwork and visit galleries and exhibitions, as very well as play in local orchestras.

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In 2009 I decided to review A-stage artwork aspect-time, which is when I began to check out the connections amongst music and artwork. A couple of several years later on, right after 20 years in my prior job, I left that at the rear of to emphasis on my artwork. I threw myself into learning Foundation Art and Style and design for a calendar year, which enabled me to experiment with connecting my synaesthesia, my musical history, and my artwork. Immediately after a pair of yrs of building my apply on my own, I analyzed element-time for a practice-dependent MA in Good Art, which presented a framework to understand what is most essential to me in my practice: my personal activities of synaesthesia and of playing and listening to audio, and the processes I use to produce my do the job.

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Your function is closely tied to your knowledge of synaesthesia when listening to new music.  How do the sounds translate into colours and shapes, is it fairly literal to you or do you get one thing various from every single unique piece of tunes?

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The colours I perceive are generally the exact same for specific notes of the musical scale and they are the starting up stage for my artworks. What I ‘see’ is challenging to explain in words (lots of synaesthetes discover it complicated to describe their experiences) but could be described as fleeting perceptions of bright colours in my mind’s eye. I really do not think about my synaesthesia to be a ‘condition’, relatively an ‘addition’ to my everyday lifetime. The patterns and designs in my do the job are not literal reproductions of my encounters I draw on my musical background and use the specific colours I understand as the stimulus for my artworks in reaction to distinct pieces of new music. I am frequently motivated by the songs I am rehearsing/accomplishing, as perfectly as the wide range of audio I listen to, or music chosen by a shopper for a fee.

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The approach I make use of to produce and produce the work tends to include two approaches of performing, which I refer to as expressive and geometric. The expressive works are spontaneous, involving listening to the audio and putting down paint in the colours perceived, layering the distinctive coloured marks and/or manipulating the paint on the area in reaction to the shape or truly feel of the music. In distinction, the geometric functions can acquire weeks or months to build via drawings and sketches prior to staying executed as a closing painting. These translational paintings use the colours I understand in geometric patterns representing excerpts or melodies from the penned audio. Lately my geometric will work (these types of as the two Mahler paintings in my Cass Art exhibition) have been checking out the visual interweaving of two or additional musical themes.

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You have claimed your function is really much procedure-driven, but are there any artists or actions that you have observed to be an impact on your artwork observe?

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It was a painting by Wassily Kandinsky (also believed to have been a synaesthete) that first sparked my fascination in exploring the connections in between new music and art: he painted Perception III (Concert) in 1911 as his response to listening to a concert of new new music by the composer Arnold Schoenberg. It was this investigation through my A-amount studies which helped me to comprehend that my experiences were being synaesthesia, and to get started to place down the colors I perceive in paint and outline my musical colour scale. I assume in the early stages of establishing my follow, numerous early 20th century artists influenced my operate, like Kandinsky, Paul Klee (also a violinist), and the Australian artist Roy de Maistre (who experimented with translating overall parts of tunes into color from 1919 onwards). Considering about a lot more contemporary artists, Bridget Riley’s sequences of coloured stripes, and the huge, colourful paintings of the late John Hoyland (also born in Sheffield!) have far more commonly influenced my paintings. Gerhard Richter’s geometric styles of colored squares, as very well as his manipulation of paint on a area, have also influenced equally of my approaches of functioning – equally, I really do not feel I want to restrict myself to only functioning in a single way, I have a tendency to change in between the two for durations of time.

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What types of products would you say are integral to your do the job?

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I use particular paint colors, primarily straight from the tube to retain them cleanse and dazzling – my perceptions of color are bright, so I consider to reproduce the colors as closely as doable and restrict using the duller colors of combined paint. One particular colour I understand I would describe as a shimmering red-brown, so just after much experimentation, I settled on using copper paint to represent that observe. I mostly use Liquitex paints, as they can present me with the vary of certain colours I require – my go-to paint is Gentle Overall body, but I have also employed their Spray Paint, Acrylic Ink, and Acrylic Gouache, as perfectly as a range of their Professional mediums to develop the regularity and translucency/opacity I want for various pieces. When functioning on canvas, strong stretcher bars are important – the Cass Art stretcher bars function nicely for me, come in a wide range of measurements, are simple to set alongside one another and are robust adequate not to warp, which is important for my geometric perform!

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Your murals for the Artwork on the Network competitiveness are an legendary element of the Merseyside landscape.  What is it like to have your perform as a everlasting public artwork installation?

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I was a little bit confused when I received the opposition! It was all through my part-time A-amount studies, prior to I’d taken the plunge to go away my previous job. My digital patterns had been employed by the organization who built all the panels for the tunnel refurbishment job they monitor-printed and fired the colours in vitreous enamel on to the stainless-steel supports. They had been set up about 10 a long time in the past but should last a lengthy time. My original Liverpool Composition and Wirral Composition paintings are, understandably, not for sale, but are nevertheless offered as limited-edition prints. I stay on the Liverpool aspect of the Mersey, but have a number of connections to Wirral, specially by way of tunes, so I get to travel earlier my artwork fairly regularly! 

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At last, what is in retailer for you for the rest of 2022? Everything you can allow us in on?

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In October, I will be Artist in Home for the Wirral Arts Competition 2022. I’ll be operating with an orchestra and some other musical teams who are accomplishing at the competition, creating artwork in reaction to some of the parts they approach to participate in in their concerts and then displaying the finished paintings at the live shows. In point, some of the will work on paper in my current exhibition at Cass Artwork Liverpool were manufactured all through past year’s pageant.

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Or else, I am content to be largely creating new operate this 12 months, reflecting on and continuing from suggestions that arose from my 6-7 days solo exhibition and residency challenge in an artist-led place in Liverpool previous summer season. I am also starting up to glimpse towards some prospective exhibition possibilities in 2023 and 2024. There are generally group exhibitions to utilize for during the yr, so I’ll see what else will come up!

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Feeling Motivated?

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Ali’s exhibition ‘Musicals to Mahler’ is at Cass Artwork Liverpool until finally 17th June 2022.  You can see extra of Ali’s operate on her website alibarker.com  Be confident to observe her on Facebook and Instagram @alibarkerart

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