Artwork’s Title: People Play
Materials Used: Steel
Studio Based: East London
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
My work always starts with drawings. I do lots of drawing, all the time. I have quite a few rules that I follow in my process, but I don’t really follow them, instead I use them to push against. I then usually turn these drawings into some sort of print, either an Etching or Screenprint. When I am drawing and printing, I choose certain characters to come out into the sculptures. This routine changes depending on the work, but most of the time I follow this process.
How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
Playful, diverse and subjective.
How did you come up with this sculpture idea? Is there any story behind the ‘People Play‘ artworks?
For me, sculpture came about when I wanted to start bringing characters in my work to life. These sculptures are in my current solo show, People Play, at The Piece Hall. They range from 5ft-9ft and are inspired by a family of mill workers involved in the Halifax Textile Industry. I have also been working with local Halifax Mills; Dean Clough and Artworks, and two of my sculptures are placed at each of those sites.
These sculptures have been drawn out of the works in the gallery exhibition.
I wanted to bring some of my characters to life and into the real world.
What colour is used the most in these artworks?
I have three main colours I use, pink, orange and blue. I am not sure why I use these certain colours; I am just automatically attracted to them.
Is there any particular message that you wish your viewers can take from this sculpture?
I want to bring out your inner child, whatever your age, and take you back to your childhood. The sculptures were inspired by the mill workers around Halifax who were denied the opportunity to play because they worked long hours.
Maybe now they are also social distancing..
Could you tell us about your experience exhibiting your sculptures at The Piece Hall? How’s the feeling of placing your work outdoors at a public square?
People Play at The Piece Hall is my first major solo exhibition. It was really exciting to see my sculptures in such a fantastic space. It’s like we made The Piece Hall into a physical print of my work. I have also learnt a lot doing this exhibition which I will take into my future projects.
Has self-isolation due to Convid-19 affected your creative activities or behaviour so far? If so, in which ways?
It has changed my routine, like a lot of us. I have lost a lot of work and don’t have access to my studio, but I have started some new practices like Lino printing. I am also using this time to get on top of other little jobs that I have wanted to do and plan some future works.
Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
Ciara Phillips for her use of print, Keith Harring for his graphic imagery, Matisse his shapes, Helen Marten for her use of objects, and Mike Kelley, Anette Messanger for their use of looking into childhood in a darker way.
What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?
I work at a few places, because I mainly use a print studio and like to keep things different. My main studio however is in East London. It is quite small and the walls are covered with drawings. It is like my little safe space and idea den.
What does your mum think about your art?
My mum is a doctor, so sometimes when explaining modern art you don’t get very far. She is always very supportive of my work and tells me exactly what she thinks about it.
Which exhibition did you visit last before lockdown?
I wasn’t able to get to many exhibitions because I was working on my exhibition at The Piece Hall, but I had been to the Science Museum. I love it there because there is a lot to inspire me.
Which are your plans for the near future?
To keep making and exhibiting my work. I have some collaborations in the pipeline too, including transforming some of my prints into graphics for fashion labels.
*Born in London in 1994, Alice Irwin lives and works in London, UK. She completed her MA in Printmaking at the Royal College of Art in 2018 and also received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from City and Guilds of London Art School in 2016.
*People Play is commissioned by The Piece Hall Trust in partnership with The Artworks, Arts Charity Dean Clough and Yorkshire Sculpture Park [YSP] and funded by Arts Council England through its National Lottery Project Grants programme.
© All images are courtesy of the artist