Artist Interview: Ali Barker | Cass Art

Ali Barker is a modern abstract artist based mostly in Liverpool.  She was the winner of Merseytravel’s ‘Art on the Network’ competitors in 2011, with two of her skyline murals of Liverpool and Wirral forever put in on the panelling at either end of the Queensway (Birkenhead) Tunnel.  She held her initially solo show ‘Four-Dimensional Colour’ in 2016, and finished her MA in Fantastic Art in 2019.

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Ali is effective with a preset palette of twelve colours to depict the colors she perceives as a result of her ordeals of the phenomenon of seem-color synaesthesia – when listening to audio, she perceives every note of the musical scale as a specific colour. She is influenced and determined by these encounters, drawing upon them and her musical qualifications (she performs the violin and the viola) to build her paintings. Starting off from her perceptions while listening to distinct pieces and/or from the written tunes, her method interprets melodies and excerpts into vibrant paintings, ranging from gestural is effective to geometric designs.

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Hi Ali, many thanks so a lot for using the time to talk to us, firstly could you convey to us a small little bit about your journey as an artist?

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Indeed, of study course. My creative journey is a minimal unconventional, as I didn’t research artwork at university – I had to select possibly artwork or music to match in with 3 science subjects, so I selected songs! My very first degree and career had been science-dependent, but, in my spare time, I ongoing to make artwork and go to galleries and exhibitions, as nicely as play in local orchestras.

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In 2009 I determined to examine A-amount artwork part-time, which is when I commenced to examine the connections in between music and artwork. A couple of yrs afterwards, just after 20 several years in my previous profession, I still left that driving to concentrate on my artwork. I threw myself into finding out Foundation Artwork and Structure for a yr, which enabled me to experiment with connecting my synaesthesia, my musical history, and my artwork. Soon after a pair of a long time of establishing my observe on my have, I analyzed portion-time for a practice-centered MA in Good Artwork, which furnished a framework to understand what is most important to me in my practice: my private activities of synaesthesia and of participating in and listening to new music, and the processes I use to develop my operate.

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Your get the job done is closely tied to your practical experience of synaesthesia when listening to songs.  How do the seems translate into colors and designs, is it pretty literal to you or do you get something distinct from just about every various piece of tunes?

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The colors I perceive are generally the identical for unique notes of the musical scale and they are the starting up stage for my artworks. What I ‘see’ is tough to explain in text (a lot of synaesthetes locate it difficult to describe their ordeals) but could be described as fleeting perceptions of vivid colours in my mind’s eye. I do not look at my synaesthesia to be a ‘condition’, fairly an ‘addition’ to my daily lifetime. The designs and designs in my function are not literal reproductions of my activities I attract on my musical history and use the specific colors I understand as the stimulus for my artworks in response to particular items of songs. I am normally influenced by the new music I am rehearsing/undertaking, as well as the broad variety of new music I listen to, or new music chosen by a client for a commission.

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The course of action I employ to develop and develop the function tends to contain two means of operating, which I refer to as expressive and geometric. The expressive will work are spontaneous, involving listening to the tunes and placing down paint in the colours perceived, layering the distinctive colored marks and/or manipulating the paint on the area in reaction to the shape or truly feel of the music. In distinction, the geometric will work can take weeks or months to build through drawings and sketches before staying executed as a final portray. These translational paintings use the colours I perceive in geometric patterns symbolizing excerpts or melodies from the prepared songs. Just lately my geometric functions (such as the two Mahler paintings in my Cass Art exhibition) have been checking out the visible interweaving of two or a lot more musical themes.

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You have mentioned your get the job done is quite a great deal system-pushed, but are there any artists or actions that you have located to be an affect on your art apply?

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It was a painting by Wassily Kandinsky (also considered to have been a synaesthete) that 1st sparked my desire in researching the connections concerning audio and art: he painted Perception III (Live performance) in 1911 as his response to listening to a concert of new audio by the composer Arnold Schoenberg. It was this investigation all through my A-amount experiments which aided me to realize that my encounters were being synaesthesia, and to start out to put down the colours I understand in paint and define my musical color scale. I believe in the early stages of creating my observe, several early 20th century artists influenced my get the job done, which include Kandinsky, Paul Klee (also a violinist), and the Australian artist Roy de Maistre (who experimented with translating total parts of music into colour from 1919 onwards). Imagining about a lot more modern day artists, Bridget Riley’s sequences of coloured stripes, and the large, vibrant paintings of the late John Hoyland (also born in Sheffield!) have a lot more commonly motivated my paintings. Gerhard Richter’s geometric styles of coloured squares, as effectively as his manipulation of paint on a surface, have also influenced each of my techniques of performing – equally, I do not come to feel I want to restrict myself to only doing the job in a person way, I are inclined to switch concerning the two for intervals of time.

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What kinds of elements would you say are integral to your function?

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I use unique paint colors, primarily straight from the tube to hold them clean and brilliant – my perceptions of color are vibrant, so I consider to reproduce the colours as intently as doable and limit utilizing the duller colors of blended paint. One color I understand I would describe as a shimmering purple-brown, so following considerably experimentation, I settled on utilizing copper paint to symbolize that be aware. I predominantly use Liquitex paints, as they can present me with the variety of precise colors I need – my go-to paint is Tender Physique, but I have also utilized their Spray Paint, Acrylic Ink, and Acrylic Gouache, as perfectly as a selection of their Experienced mediums to create the consistency and translucency/opacity I want for unique parts. When doing work on canvas, durable stretcher bars are crucial – the Cass Artwork stretcher bars do the job very well for me, come in a huge array of measurements, are straightforward to set with each other and are powerful more than enough not to warp, which is crucial for my geometric work!

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Your murals for the Artwork on the Network competitors are an iconic aspect of the Merseyside landscape.  What is it like to have your operate as a everlasting community art set up?

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I was a bit overcome when I won the levels of competition! It was through my section-time A-degree experiments, just before I’d taken the plunge to leave my past profession. My electronic patterns have been utilized by the organization who produced all the panels for the tunnel refurbishment venture they monitor-printed and fired the colors in vitreous enamel onto the stainless-steel supports. They have been set up over 10 yrs in the past but really should past a lengthy time. My original Liverpool Composition and Wirral Composition paintings are, understandably, not for sale, but are even now out there as minimal-edition prints. I are living on the Liverpool facet of the Mersey, but have many connections to Wirral, notably by music, so I get to travel past my artwork very regularly! 

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Ultimately, what is in shop for you for the rest of 2022? Anything you can let us in on?

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In Oct, I will be Artist in Home for the Wirral Arts Festival 2022. I’ll be functioning with an orchestra and some other musical teams who are undertaking at the festival, producing artwork in response to some of the items they approach to enjoy in their concerts and then exhibiting the finished paintings at the concert events. In reality, some of the functions on paper in my current exhibition at Cass Artwork Liverpool ended up made for the duration of previous year’s pageant.

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Normally, I am articles to be mostly acquiring new work this calendar year, reflecting on and continuing from strategies that arose from my 6-week solo exhibition and residency venture in an artist-led room in Liverpool previous summer time. I am also starting to glance towards some possible exhibition prospects in 2023 and 2024. There are normally team exhibitions to implement for all through the yr, so I’ll see what else will come up!

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Sensation Influenced?

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

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