Artist Interview: Ali Barker | Cass Art

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Ali Barker is a present-day abstract artist based in Liverpool.  She was the winner of Merseytravel’s ‘Art on the Network’ opposition in 2011, with two of her skyline murals of Liverpool and Wirral permanently installed on the panelling at both end of the Queensway (Birkenhead) Tunnel.  She held her initially solo present ‘Four-Dimensional Colour’ in 2016, and done her MA in Fantastic Artwork in 2019.

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Ali will work with a set palette of twelve colours to characterize the colors she perceives by way of her experiences of the phenomenon of audio-colour synaesthesia – when listening to new music, she perceives each individual be aware of the musical scale as a certain color. She is inspired and motivated by these ordeals, drawing on them and her musical background (she performs the violin and the viola) to make her paintings. Starting up from her perceptions even though listening to specific items and/or from the composed audio, her procedure interprets melodies and excerpts into colourful paintings, ranging from gestural works to geometric designs.

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Hi Ali, many thanks so substantially for having the time to discuss to us, for starters could you tell us a minor little bit about your journey as an artist?

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Of course, of training course. My creative journey is a minor unconventional, as I did not review artwork at college – I had to decide on both artwork or tunes to suit in with 3 science topics, so I chose music! My very first diploma and profession had been science-based, but, in my spare time, I continued to make artwork and stop by galleries and exhibitions, as properly as engage in in area orchestras.

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In 2009 I determined to study A-degree art section-time, which is when I started to discover the connections involving songs and art. A couple yrs later on, just after 20 a long time in my preceding career, I left that at the rear of to concentrate on my artwork. I threw myself into researching Foundation Artwork and Style and design for a 12 months, which enabled me to experiment with connecting my synaesthesia, my musical history, and my artwork. Just after a pair of a long time of establishing my apply on my possess, I studied component-time for a exercise-based mostly MA in Great Artwork, which furnished a framework to comprehend what is most crucial to me in my practice: my personalized ordeals of synaesthesia and of playing and listening to music, and the procedures I use to build my work.

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Your get the job done is closely tied to your expertise of synaesthesia when listening to new music.  How do the sounds translate into colors and styles, is it fairly literal to you or do you get one thing distinct from every diverse piece of songs?

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The colors I understand are generally the exact for particular notes of the musical scale and they are the setting up place for my artworks. What I ‘see’ is challenging to describe in phrases (quite a few synaesthetes uncover it hard to explain their encounters) but could be explained as fleeting perceptions of vivid colors in my mind’s eye. I really do not take into account my synaesthesia to be a ‘condition’, instead an ‘addition’ to my every day lifestyle. The styles and shapes in my function are not literal reproductions of my ordeals I attract upon my musical qualifications and use the specific colours I perceive as the stimulus for my artworks in reaction to precise pieces of new music. I am often influenced by the music I am rehearsing/carrying out, as perfectly as the extensive range of tunes I pay attention to, or new music chosen by a customer for a commission.

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The approach I utilize to acquire and produce the work tends to involve two means of working, which I refer to as expressive and geometric. The expressive functions are spontaneous, involving listening to the tunes and placing down paint in the colours perceived, layering the distinct colored marks and/or manipulating the paint on the surface in response to the shape or experience of the music. In distinction, the geometric works can get weeks or months to produce by drawings and sketches in advance of staying executed as a remaining portray. These translational paintings use the colors I perceive in geometric designs symbolizing excerpts or melodies from the penned tunes. A short while ago my geometric works (this sort of as the two Mahler paintings in my Cass Artwork exhibition) have been checking out the visual interweaving of two or a lot more musical themes.

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You have stated your get the job done is really substantially procedure-driven, but are there any artists or movements that you have identified to be an impact on your art exercise?

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It was a painting by Wassily Kandinsky (also believed to have been a synaesthete) that to start with sparked my desire in looking into the connections in between audio and artwork: he painted Perception III (Live performance) in 1911 as his reaction to listening to a concert of new tunes by the composer Arnold Schoenberg. It was this exploration in the course of my A-level scientific tests which helped me to comprehend that my encounters ended up synaesthesia, and to get started to set down the colors I understand in paint and define my musical color scale. I consider in the early phases of building my follow, a lot of early 20th century artists influenced my get the job done, such as Kandinsky, Paul Klee (also a violinist), and the Australian artist Roy de Maistre (who experimented with translating overall items of music into color from 1919 onwards). Considering about more modern day artists, Bridget Riley’s sequences of coloured stripes, and the big, colourful paintings of the late John Hoyland (also born in Sheffield!) have much more generally affected my paintings. Gerhard Richter’s geometric patterns of coloured squares, as properly as his manipulation of paint on a floor, have also motivated both of those of my means of operating – in the same way, I never truly feel I want to limit myself to only operating in a person way, I have a tendency to change involving the two for periods of time.

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What types of supplies would you say are integral to your perform?

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I use certain paint colors, typically straight from the tube to keep them clean up and dazzling – my perceptions of colour are brilliant, so I check out to reproduce the colors as intently as achievable and limit applying the duller colours of mixed paint. A single colour I understand I would explain as a shimmering red-brown, so following substantially experimentation, I settled on using copper paint to characterize that be aware. I predominantly use Liquitex paints, as they can provide me with the range of certain colours I require – my go-to paint is Comfortable Overall body, but I have also made use of their Spray Paint, Acrylic Ink, and Acrylic Gouache, as effectively as a assortment of their Skilled mediums to create the regularity and translucency/opacity I want for different items. When functioning on canvas, sturdy stretcher bars are crucial – the Cass Artwork stretcher bars work perfectly for me, come in a vast variety of measurements, are easy to place collectively and are robust more than enough not to warp, which is vital for my geometric work!

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Your murals for the Art on the Community levels of competition are an iconic component of the Merseyside landscape.  What is it like to have your get the job done as a long term general public artwork set up?

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I was a bit overcome when I received the competitiveness! It was all through my section-time A-degree experiments, just before I’d taken the plunge to depart my previous occupation. My digital models ended up employed by the company who designed all the panels for the tunnel refurbishment venture they screen-printed and fired the colors in vitreous enamel on to the stainless-metal supports. They ended up mounted in excess of 10 a long time ago but should last a long time. My original Liverpool Composition and Wirral Composition paintings are, understandably, not for sale, but are still obtainable as restricted-version prints. I dwell on the Liverpool facet of the Mersey, but have many connections to Wirral, specifically by means of new music, so I get to travel past my artwork fairly regularly! 

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Finally, what is in retailer for you for the relaxation 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 Pageant 2022. I’ll be doing work with an orchestra and some other musical teams who are executing at the festival, generating artwork in reaction to some of the pieces they program to engage in in their concert events and then displaying the finished paintings at the concert events. In reality, some of the performs on paper in my existing exhibition at Cass Artwork Liverpool have been made for the duration of last year’s festival.

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In any other case, I am content material to be generally acquiring new work this 12 months, reflecting on and continuing from tips that arose from my six-7 days solo exhibition and residency task in an artist-led area in Liverpool previous summertime. I am also starting off to appear in direction of some prospective exhibition prospects in 2023 and 2024. There are generally group exhibitions to apply for during the calendar year, so I’ll see what else arrives up!

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Feeling Motivated?

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

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