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Friday 2 October 2020

Art Unlocked Q&A with Ali Clarke

Art Unlocked, October 02-04 – A response to the unfurling of Covid-19 by the Artists, Designers and Makers of Richmond Art House Open Studios.

Below, we asked Art Unlocked artist Ali Clarke, a few questions about her work and the impact of Covid-19 on his artistic practice.

Don’t forget to book your free ticket here

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your art practice

My arts training and background was in spatial design so I’ve always thought on an architectural scale. As part of the design process, I would make models which became the artwork themselves. I’ve worked with concrete for a long time, I love its quality and feel and I love the unexpected results upon opening up a mould. I’m always attracted to contrasts so combining delicate materials such as wire, thread or even a delicate pencil drawing upon the surface with the heavy mass of concrete can give really interesting results.

How does your piece in the Art Unlocked exhibition relate to Covid-19?

Our homes have taken on a huge role since Lockdown which has been a different experience for each individual. Many have felt trapped, while some have appreciated being at home away from the pressures of the outside world. Home, for me, has felt secure and warm. We are four individuals who all enjoy each other’s company and the atmosphere in our home is one of comfort.

In my piece, Lockdown, this feeling of warmth is represented in the use of dyed felt in the interior. I only partially felted the fleece to allow the fibres to be visible. They whirl around within the confines of the cavity, at times letting light through. In the same way our emotions were in turmoil during that initial lockdown. None of us had ever experienced anything like this before and the overall confusion still hangs in the air.

During lockdown nature had a small chance to recover. The air smelt cleaner without the planes, the roads quieter and there was a universal appreciation of being surrounded by nature on our daily walks. The drawing of roots around the sculpture symbolises this constant, slow growth of nature gradually taking over at a time when the world stood still.

Ali Clarke, Lockdown

How did lockdown impact your artistic practice?

I was working towards an exhibition which has had to be postponed. This effected my momentum, however, it has had a positive impact in that I have more time to develop each strand of the work I was preparing and I believe the exhibition will be better as a result. As artists, we can put pressure on ourselves when it comes to exhibitions, and that can inhibit the work we do when it’s important to take time to experiment. This strange situation we find ourselves in has been a catalyst for working with new materials and in different ways.