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INSERT NAME: Alice Mears, one of the TFAC Griffin Gallery Residencies


Written by
Jane Cuppage
Published date
30 May 2017

Through our interview blog feature INSERT NAME we are getting to know four final year BA Painting students who undertook one week residencies with The Fine Art Collective (TFAC) at Griffin Gallery throughout March and April this year.

BA Painting students at Camberwell were given the opportunity to apply for one week residencies at Griffin Gallery.  Six students, all in 3rd Year of BA Painting and graduating in June were chosen to partake. Each student had a week working in a spacious and professional environment where they were able to embark on a short and intensive period of experimentation with materials of their choice from Liquitex, Windsor and Newton, with the intention of informing and enriching their painting practice. The six students chosen were Esra Vazirally, Alice Mears, Swathi Srinivasan, Christopher Simpson, Victor Leleca and Florence Main.

TFAC is a global social network for artists, with art materials at its heart. Griffin Gallery supports TFAC with a residency opportunity enabling members to realise projects or undertake research otherwise unfeasible in their place of study or work. Griffin Gallery is located in west London with residencies taking place in one of two large artists’ studios that share the same floor as the Innovation & Development laboratory of Winsor & Newton, Liquitex and Conté à Paris.

We spoke with Alice Mears, from London, who was second to complete her residency in mid-March having never previous taken part in one before. She told us about her own practice and the residency where she chose to specialise in Liquitex’s heavy and soft body acrylic paint, and spray paint mediums.

Tell us about your residency:

At first it was weird being away from everyone in the studio at Camberwell and having all that space to myself with so many materials to work with. It was a bit overwhelming and I didn’t know where to start. However, it was great to have the opportunity to experiment with so many different products, ones I’ve never even thought about buying and using in my work. Knowing that I only had a week there, the time pressure made me not overthink every element and just go ahead. I was able to play around without having a fully realised outcome already in mind and letting whatever outcome would be, be. I don’t think I’ve ever produced as much work in a week as I did during the residency!

‘Somewhere’ by Alice Mears

Can you please describe your art practice:

My practice at the moment is exploring the boundaries of dualism between our visible version of reality and the hidden, parallel world of the imaginary. I do this by creating psychological alternative worlds through paintings that are then inhabited through stop-motion animation projections of creatures that I sculpt and animate myself. My work is underpinned by psychoanalysis and using techniques of automatism in my paintings as well as in the forming of my creatures, enabling me to create a catalyst for an unconscious field between myself and the viewer. With this, I’ve been experimenting with techniques used in horror literature and film by creating subtle, eerie atmospheric worlds that play with the audiences’ perception and allow them to question what they are seeing.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on my final pieces for the degree show. It’s going to be two large paintings with projected stop-motion animations and a sound piece. I don’t want to give too much away…

‘Somewhen’ by Alice Mears

Do you have an artist influence?

I’m very much influenced by horror films, by their aesthetic, but also with that idea of revealing the unknown and how they play with the viewer. I’m also influenced by artists such as Gregory Crewdson, Roberto Matta and Jan Svankmajer.

Why did you decide to apply for the Griffin Gallery Fine Art Collective Residency?

When we were told about it, it seemed like a great opportunity to take a step back from my studio work and have an intense time exploring and experimenting with materials, and to hopefully discover new things that would inform my practice.

Detail of ‘Into the nothing’, which is the featured image, by Alice Mears

What research did you undertake during your week?

I mainly experimented with the build up of layers of different colours in the different ranges and qualities of acrylics, using a variety of mediums and creating textures. I wanted to see what effects they created and the difference between the products. I also tested out different varnishes on top of these experimental pieces to see how they would enhance the depth and colour of my work.

Did you learn anything new or interesting regarding technique or with materials?

One of the lab technicians showed me a technique of using spray paint at an angle over the textured elements of my paintings which helped create more depth and help build up the surface. I’ve used this technique in my degree show pieces, I feel like it really helps exaggerate the idea that the worlds within the paintings are protruding from the canvas into the real world.

Did you take away anything from the residency that will further your practice or your final project at Camberwell?

I think everything I experimented with will influence my final pieces, the colour choices, the textures, the varnishes that I worked with for the paintings and the worlds I’m creating. But, I feel like the main element I’ll take away from this experience is time, using time pressure to allow myself to not over think these painterly worlds and to just go for it!

Alice and the 3rd Year Painting students will be displaying at 45-65 Peckham Road during the Summer Shows 17, 19-24 June.

 Related links:

BA Painting

Griffin Gallery, The Fine Art Collective Residency

Undergraduate Summer Shows

Apply now: Griffin Art Prize 2017