October 1, 2022

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Artist Interview: Ali Barker | Cass Art

Artist Interview: Ali Barker | Cass Art

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Ali Barker is a present-day summary 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 permanently put in on the panelling at both finish of the Queensway (Birkenhead) Tunnel.  She held her initial solo exhibit ‘Four-Dimensional Colour’ in 2016, and finished her MA in Good Artwork in 2019.

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Ali works with a fastened palette of twelve colors to characterize the colors she perceives through her experiences of the phenomenon of audio-colour synaesthesia – when listening to music, she perceives each individual take note of the musical scale as a precise color. She is inspired and enthusiastic by these encounters, drawing upon them and her musical track record (she plays the violin and the viola) to build her paintings. Commencing from her perceptions even though listening to particular pieces and/or from the composed music, her procedure interprets melodies and excerpts into colourful paintings, ranging from gestural performs to geometric designs.

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Hello Ali, thanks so considerably for taking the time to communicate to us, firstly could you inform us a tiny bit about your journey as an artist?

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Of course, of class. My artistic journey is a small unconventional, as I didn’t analyze artwork at school – I experienced to choose possibly artwork or songs to match in with three science subjects, so I chose songs! My initial degree and job ended up science-dependent, but, in my spare time, I continued to make artwork and stop by galleries and exhibitions, as well as perform in local orchestras.

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In 2009 I resolved to research A-amount art part-time, which is when I started out to discover the connections amongst tunes and art. A handful of many years later on, following 20 decades in my prior vocation, I still left that behind to concentration on my artwork. I threw myself into finding out Foundation Artwork and Layout for a 12 months, which enabled me to experiment with connecting my synaesthesia, my musical qualifications, and my artwork. Right after a few of yrs of developing my follow on my possess, I researched section-time for a practice-based mostly MA in Great Artwork, which supplied a framework to comprehend what is most significant to me in my follow: my personal encounters of synaesthesia and of participating in and listening to songs, and the procedures I use to make my function.

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Your get the job done is closely tied to your working experience of synaesthesia when listening to tunes.  How do the sounds translate into colours and designs, is it fairly literal to you or do you get something various from each individual distinct piece of tunes?

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The colors I perceive are generally the same for distinct notes of the musical scale and they are the setting up point for my artworks. What I ‘see’ is challenging to describe in words and phrases (a lot of synaesthetes uncover it hard to describe their ordeals) but could be described as fleeting perceptions of dazzling colors in my mind’s eye. I never look at my synaesthesia to be a ‘condition’, rather an ‘addition’ to my day-to-day life. The patterns and designs in my get the job done are not literal reproductions of my ordeals I attract on my musical track record and use the precise colours I perceive as the stimulus for my artworks in reaction to particular parts of songs. I am normally influenced by the music I am rehearsing/carrying out, as very well as the huge array of songs I hear to, or songs decided on by a customer for a commission.

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The method I utilize to develop and build the function tends to require two strategies of doing work, which I refer to as expressive and geometric. The expressive performs are spontaneous, involving listening to the music and placing down paint in the colors perceived, layering the different coloured marks and/or manipulating the paint on the surface area in response to the form or come to feel of the audio. In distinction, the geometric performs can take months or months to establish by drawings and sketches prior to becoming executed as a ultimate portray. These translational paintings use the colors I perceive in geometric patterns symbolizing excerpts or melodies from the written songs. Recently my geometric performs (this kind of as the two Mahler paintings in my Cass Art exhibition) have been checking out the visual interweaving of two or a lot more musical themes.

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You have said your function is really significantly method-pushed, but are there any artists or actions that you have located to be an impact on your art practice?

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It was a portray by Wassily Kandinsky (also believed to have been a synaesthete) that initial sparked my curiosity in exploring the connections between songs and art: he painted Effect III (Concert) in 1911 as his reaction to listening to a live performance of new music by the composer Arnold Schoenberg. It was this investigate all through my A-stage reports which served me to understand that my activities have been synaesthesia, and to start out to set down the colors I understand in paint and determine my musical color scale. I feel in the early phases of creating my practice, a lot of early 20th century artists motivated my get the job done, which include Kandinsky, Paul Klee (also a violinist), and the Australian artist Roy de Maistre (who experimented with translating overall parts of songs into color from 1919 onwards). Wondering about a lot more present-day artists, Bridget Riley’s sequences of colored stripes, and the huge, colourful paintings of the late John Hoyland (also born in Sheffield!) have far more normally affected my paintings. Gerhard Richter’s geometric styles of coloured squares, as effectively as his manipulation of paint on a surface, have also motivated both of my approaches of operating – equally, I never feel I want to limit myself to only performing in just one way, I are inclined to change between the two for durations of time.

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What kinds of components would you say are integral to your perform?

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I use distinct paint colors, typically straight from the tube to preserve them clear and shiny – my perceptions of colour are vivid, so I try out to reproduce the colours as carefully as possible and limit making use of the duller colours of combined paint. A single color I perceive I would describe as a shimmering pink-brown, so following significantly experimentation, I settled on making use of copper paint to characterize that note. I primarily use Liquitex paints, as they can supply me with the array of specific colours I need to have – my go-to paint is Tender Human body, but I have also used their Spray Paint, Acrylic Ink, and Acrylic Gouache, as perfectly as a range of their Skilled mediums to produce the consistency and translucency/opacity I want for unique items. When doing work on canvas, durable stretcher bars are necessary – the Cass Artwork stretcher bars get the job done very well for me, come in a vast selection of measurements, are effortless to put together and are potent enough not to warp, which is important for my geometric perform!

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Your murals for the Artwork on the Network opposition are an iconic part of the Merseyside landscape.  What is it like to have your work as a everlasting community art installation?

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I was a little bit confused when I gained the competitiveness! It was throughout my part-time A-stage experiments, ahead of I’d taken the plunge to depart my previous profession. My digital styles have been utilized by the business who produced all the panels for the tunnel refurbishment challenge they monitor-printed and fired the colors in vitreous enamel on to the stainless-steel supports. They were set up about ten yrs ago but need to very last a extensive time. My original Liverpool Composition and Wirral Composition paintings are, understandably, not for sale, but are however accessible as confined-edition prints. I are living on the Liverpool aspect of the Mersey, but have a number of connections to Wirral, notably by tunes, so I get to vacation previous my artwork very consistently! 

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Eventually, what is in retailer for you for the relaxation of 2022? Anything 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 executing at the pageant, creating artwork in reaction to some of the pieces they strategy to play in their live shows and then displaying the completed paintings at the live shows. In point, some of the will work on paper in my latest exhibition at Cass Art Liverpool have been designed all through previous year’s competition.

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Or else, I am content to be generally building new perform this year, reflecting on and continuing from thoughts that arose from my 6-week solo exhibition and residency venture in an artist-led house in Liverpool past summertime. I am also setting up to appear to some possible exhibition possibilities in 2023 and 2024. There are generally team exhibitions to use for in the course of the 12 months, so I’ll see what else comes up!

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Sensation Inspired?

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Ali’s exhibition ‘Musicals to Mahler’ is at Cass Art Liverpool until eventually 17th June 2022.  You can see much more of Ali’s work on her website alibarker.com  Be absolutely sure to abide by her on Fb and Instagram @alibarkerart

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