November 27, 2022

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Artist Interview: Ali Barker | Cass Art

7 min read

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Ali Barker is a modern summary 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 forever installed on the panelling at possibly conclusion of the Queensway (Birkenhead) Tunnel.  She held her initial solo exhibit ‘Four-Dimensional Colour’ in 2016, and completed her MA in High-quality Artwork in 2019.

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Ali functions with a mounted palette of twelve colours to characterize the colors she perceives through her encounters of the phenomenon of audio-colour synaesthesia – when listening to tunes, she perceives every single note of the musical scale as a distinct color. She is encouraged and motivated by these activities, drawing on them and her musical background (she plays the violin and the viola) to develop her paintings. Setting up from her perceptions while listening to certain items and/or from the created new music, her approach interprets melodies and excerpts into vibrant paintings, ranging from gestural functions to geometric patterns.

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Hi Ali, many thanks so a great deal for having the time to communicate to us, firstly could you notify us a tiny little bit about your journey as an artist?

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Certainly, of program. My creative journey is a minimal unconventional, as I did not analyze artwork at university – I experienced to pick out either art or new music to suit in with a few science topics, so I selected tunes! My very first degree and occupation were being science-centered, but, in my spare time, I ongoing to make artwork and take a look at galleries and exhibitions, as well as play in regional orchestras.

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In 2009 I made a decision to examine A-amount art component-time, which is when I began to examine the connections in between audio and artwork. A handful of years later on, following 20 decades in my earlier profession, I left that at the rear of to emphasis on my artwork. I threw myself into studying Foundation Art and Style and design for a calendar year, which enabled me to experiment with connecting my synaesthesia, my musical background, and my artwork. Just after a pair of years of establishing my exercise on my possess, I analyzed portion-time for a exercise-centered MA in Fantastic Artwork, which provided a framework to have an understanding of what is most essential to me in my apply: my private ordeals of synaesthesia and of actively playing and listening to new music, and the processes I use to make my function.

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Your work is intently tied to your expertise of synaesthesia when listening to audio.  How do the sounds translate into colours and shapes, is it fairly literal to you or do you get one thing different from every diverse piece of tunes?

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The colors I perceive are always the identical for particular notes of the musical scale and they are the starting up level for my artworks. What I ‘see’ is tricky to describe in words (many synaesthetes obtain it difficult to explain their experiences) but could be explained as fleeting perceptions of bright colours in my mind’s eye. I don’t look at my synaesthesia to be a ‘condition’, relatively an ‘addition’ to my day-to-day life. The designs and shapes in my function are not literal reproductions of my encounters I attract on my musical track record and use the particular colours I perceive as the stimulus for my artworks in response to specific pieces of tunes. I am often affected by the new music I am rehearsing/doing, as nicely as the vast variety of music I pay attention to, or new music decided on by a consumer for a commission.

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The course of action I use to produce and produce the function tends to contain two approaches of functioning, which I refer to as expressive and geometric. The expressive will work are spontaneous, involving listening to the audio and placing down paint in the colours perceived, layering the distinct coloured marks and/or manipulating the paint on the area in response to the form or come to feel of the tunes. In distinction, the geometric operates can consider months or months to produce as a result of drawings and sketches prior to staying executed as a final painting. These translational paintings use the colours I understand in geometric patterns representing excerpts or melodies from the penned songs. A short while ago my geometric operates (this sort of as the two Mahler paintings in my Cass Art exhibition) have been discovering the visual interweaving of two or a lot more musical themes.

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You have said your perform is very significantly approach-pushed, but are there any artists or actions that you have found to be an impact on your art apply?

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It was a painting by Wassily Kandinsky (also considered to have been a synaesthete) that initial sparked my interest in studying the connections involving audio and art: he painted Effect III (Concert) in 1911 as his reaction to listening to a concert of new tunes by the composer Arnold Schoenberg. It was this investigation through my A-degree research which assisted me to fully grasp that my ordeals ended up synaesthesia, and to begin to put down the colors I perceive in paint and define my musical color scale. I feel in the early phases of building my observe, lots of early 20th century artists motivated my work, such as Kandinsky, Paul Klee (also a violinist), and the Australian artist Roy de Maistre (who experimented with translating whole items of new music into colour from 1919 onwards). Considering about additional modern artists, Bridget Riley’s sequences of colored stripes, and the huge, vibrant paintings of the late John Hoyland (also born in Sheffield!) have extra usually influenced my paintings. Gerhard Richter’s geometric patterns of coloured squares, as nicely as his manipulation of paint on a surface, have also affected both of my strategies of doing the job – similarly, I do not sense I want to limit myself to only doing the job in one particular way, I tend to change in between the two for intervals of time.

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What kinds of supplies would you say are integral to your do the job?

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I use precise paint colors, mostly straight from the tube to retain them clean up and vivid – my perceptions of colour are bright, so I try to reproduce the colours as intently as doable and restrict working with the duller colors of mixed paint. A single colour I perceive I would describe as a shimmering purple-brown, so after much experimentation, I settled on working with copper paint to represent that take note. I predominantly use Liquitex paints, as they can provide me with the range of certain colours I need to have – my go-to paint is Soft Entire body, but I have also applied their Spray Paint, Acrylic Ink, and Acrylic Gouache, as perfectly as a variety of their Experienced mediums to create the regularity and translucency/opacity I want for different pieces. When doing work on canvas, strong stretcher bars are critical – the Cass Art stretcher bars work effectively for me, appear in a huge selection of sizes, are easy to place alongside one another and are powerful enough not to warp, which is crucial for my geometric get the job done!

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Your murals for the Artwork on the Community levels of competition are an legendary portion of the Merseyside landscape.  What is it like to have your function as a long-lasting public artwork installation?

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I was a little bit overwhelmed when I won the opposition! It was all through my component-time A-stage reports, before I’d taken the plunge to go away my prior occupation. My digital patterns were being utilised by the organization who created all the panels for the tunnel refurbishment project they monitor-printed and fired the colours in vitreous enamel on to the stainless-metal supports. They were set up over 10 decades back but must final a very long time. My original Liverpool Composition and Wirral Composition paintings are, understandably, not for sale, but are however out there as minimal-version prints. I dwell on the Liverpool facet of the Mersey, but have various connections to Wirral, specially via audio, so I get to vacation past my artwork very routinely! 

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Last but not least, what is in store for you for the relaxation of 2022? Something 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 doing work with an orchestra and some other musical teams who are carrying out at the pageant, producing artwork in reaction to some of the parts they plan to play in their concerts and then exhibiting the concluded paintings at the concerts. In reality, some of the operates on paper in my present exhibition at Cass Art Liverpool were being made all through past year’s pageant.

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Normally, I am information to be primarily establishing new get the job done this calendar year, reflecting on and continuing from tips that arose from my 6-week solo exhibition and residency job in an artist-led area in Liverpool last summer. I am also setting up to look toward some possible exhibition chances in 2023 and 2024. There are generally group exhibitions to utilize for all through the calendar year, 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 finally 17th June 2022.  You can see more of Ali’s perform on her website alibarker.com  Be confident to follow her on Fb and Instagram @alibarkerart

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