Alice Irwin: Artists Inside The Industry

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Our Artists Inside the Industry series shines on the London-based artist Alice Irwin. A graduate with a Master’s in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art in 2018, Irwin transcends traditional boundaries, weaving her magic across a spectrum of mediums, including sculptures, canvases, and the delicate craft of printmaking.

Alice Irwin: Artists Inside The Industry
Alice Irwin with Her Art Work

This can then be translated into everyday life as we get older.

Alice Irwin

Irwin’s practice lies deeply rooted in the whimsical world of playgrounds, a recurring motif that dances vividly through her creations. These playgrounds serve as more than mere physical spaces; they are crucibles of human interaction, mirrors reflecting the myriad emotions, the intricate dance of social skills, and the unbridled flight of imagination that unfolds in these communal havens.

Each piece by Irwin is a kaleidoscope of emotions, a vibrant and provocative journey that beckons the viewer into a realm of experiences from piece to piece. Irwin’s exceptional talent was highlighted in her 10-day solo exhibition “Life Lived with Play” at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, a celebration of vivacity and creativity.

In today’s dialogue, we delve beyond the canvas to discover the essence of Alice Irwin, the woman behind these captivating works. We explore the wellsprings of her creativity, the muses that inspire her, and the rich journey of her artistic practice.

Q: First things first, why do you do what you do?

Alice Irwin: I have never known of anything else. I am very dyslexic and at school I would avoid going to other classes and escape to the art room instead. I was either in the art room or on the sports fields. I think it’s a way of life for me, because some things haven’t come easily to me and art is my way of escapism.

Alice Irwin: Artists Inside The Industry
Need Good!!, Etching on Somerset, 30x30cm, 2019
Q: What is your inspiration?

Alice Irwin: My inspiration comes from a lot of things; sometimes it comes from spending time around people or it can be by going on a bike ride. When I go to a gallery, I find it can take a few days for me to feel inspired before I have a new idea. One of my main inspirations is play and the playground. I look at how play is such an important part of our lives, as well as history. I use the playground as a conceptual inspiration, for example, how someone can experience so many emotions at one time. I like to translate this in many different ways.

Q: What is your creative process when you’re creating?

Alice Irwin: I try to keep my creative process playful, so I never take a work too seriously until it is finished. This ensures I don’t become too precious about my way of working, and stops me from over working the works. I work on many pieces at one time, and also start with drawings before I progress onto print, sculpture, or graphic design.

Alice Irwin: Artists Inside The Industry
Alice Irwin In The Studio
Q: Which is your preferred surface for working on?

Alice Irwin: I like to work on many different surfaces, whether that be wood for a new sculpture or fabric for a new collaboration. However, I would say the surface I know and trust best is paper. My drawings are always on paper (my drawings are my bible) and my prints are mostly on paper, but that can vary. Paper is a material everyone knows and can also be extremely versatile.

Q: What would you say is an integral part to the work of an Artist?

Alice Irwin: The most important part of being an artist is making the work to a standard you are satisfied with.

Alice Irwin: Artists Inside The Industry
Rumors, Etching on Somerset, 15x15cm, 2018
Q: What is the reason behind your use of the playground?

Alice Irwin: As I said before, I use the playground as a point of reference. For example, how it is a site of interaction and in this one site you can experience many different emotions and life lessons through play. This can then be translated into everyday life as we get older.

Q: How do you know when a piece is finished?

Alice Irwin: I just know. I don’t really know how to put it into words, I just know when it is done. Sometimes a work is done in a matter of hours, sometimes it takes months to finish. It just depends on how the game is going.

Alice Irwin: Artists Inside The Industry
Freeze – Alice Irwin
Q: What is your favourite piece from your collection?

Alice Irwin: It is very hard to choose my all time favourite piece as I have favourite works within each series. One minute I like something, the next minute I don’t. I have my own language that I repeatedly use and I try to incorporate this into all my work. For instance, I have two figures that I repeat in both my prints and sculpture works. These figures will be sculptures on show at The Piece Hall, Halifax next year. 

Alice Irwin: Artists Inside The Industry
Split Peeps
Q: How did you feel when you did your first solo exhibition?

Alice Irwin: My first solo show was ‘Life lived with play’, a 10 day exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It is very special to see people connect with your work and an exciting experience to put on a show to the public exactly how you imagined it to be viewed. My art works well in a solo show as elements of my 3d and 2d work are designed to be shown in a curated space. Therefore, when I put all the world together, this playful element comes to life and my work invokes messages in the viewers mind, just as I had intended.

Alice Irwin: Artists Inside The Industry
Different Game..Same Player 1, Screenprint on paper, one-off, 50x60cm, 2019.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing for you about being a part of the Art Industry?

Alice Irwin: For me it is how people can be inspired and interested in your imagination. I want my work to reach as many different people as possible, so that everyone can take a step out of their daily life and experience something new. Whether this is seeing my work in a solo exhibition or wearing it on a jersey.

Q: Is there anything that worries you about how social media is affecting the promotion of artists?

Alice Irwin: It’s different for everyone. It is a very useful tool at this moment in time and it helps you expose your work to audiences that wouldn’t see it normally in day to day life. It is for me imporant to have an online presence and make sure that I am regularly exposing my work on it, but it is more important for my work to be displayed in galleries as this is the traditionally respected way of promotion.

Alice Irwin: Artists Inside The Industry
Hung Up Dream, Etching on Somerset, 20x10cm, 2019. 1/1
Q: In your opinion, do you have any advice for artists on how to manage their social media image? Or does it even need managing?

Alice Irwin: Of course you have to manage it, it’s your work and you are in charge of how you want your image to be seen and depicted. I think as an artist you don’t need to manage it as such, your style is you. You have to manage how you want the work to be seen rather than what your image is about.

Alice Irwin: Artists Inside The Industry
Alice Irwin
Q: Do you have any advice for artist starting and don’t know where to begin?

Alice Irwin: It’s hard as everyone has different advice depending on what has worked for them. I would say the main thing is to keep making work that you are passionate about. Talking with other artists and receiving feedback about your work is also helpful. I remember the first few months after I graduated from the Royal College of Art, it was my peers that kept me going.

Alice Irwin: Artists Inside The Industry
Sweet As Candy1, Screenprint on paper, varied sizes, 2018
Q: What would you say is the best way of getting your art noticed in the age of the internet?

Alice Irwin: I have work online and off. I think it’s important to have a presence in both areas.

Q: Are there any places where you feel Art and Technology really shouldn’t overlap?

Alice Irwin: I’m not sure there is at the moment. I am very interested in pushing the boundaries between art and craft and the way technology can compliment the traditional ways of craft and art.

This was Alice Irwin for Art Plugged artists in the industry; you can follow Alice on Instagram and head over to her website for news about her latest works, exhibitions and more.

©2019 Alice Irwin