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Big Walls and Windows Project

Person standing in front of red and white imagery of large spider
  • Written byTeleri Lloyd-Jones
  • Published date15 July 2021
Person standing in front of red and white imagery of large spider
Alice Bajaj, BA Fine Art (Photo: Peter Cattrell)

Strolling past the Window Galleries this summer, people will become part of Alice Bajaj’s dystopian world of giant spiders and local surveillance. The graduating BA Fine Art student has pushed her practice with a 13-metre public art project supported by Liquitex and Cass Art.

In a series of three-metre long paintings, we see a world of giant spiders with surveillance cameras protuberances and heads made from hand sanitiser pumps. This uneasy vision combines art historical references with reflections on the contemporary world.

Spiders have run throughout Alice’s final year work echoing both the matriarchal spider famous in Louise Bourgeois’ work but also the Black Tarantula pseudonym under which unclassifiable novelist Cathy Acker wrote. Acker appropriated texts from other books and fused them into her own experimental writing. Her work offers not only an aesthetic inspiration for Alice but also a conceptual one.

I was reading McKenzie Walk’s writing on Acker and found reference to her as a monster stealing people's memories. What if this was physical? What would it look like? What if I tried to represent her?

— Alice Bajaj, graduating BA Fine Art student
Installation of red and white imagery
Alice Bajaj, BA Fine Art (Photo: Peter Cattrell)
Installation of red and white imagery
Alice Bajaj, BA Fine Art (Photo: Peter Cattrell)

Alice’s work combines both the inherent threat of a giant spiders with a heartfelt genuflection to pioneering female practitioners. At the same time, she is a hungry appropriator too, internalising the work of others and fusing into with her own.

While the subject matter and aesthetic continue from previous work, this project is a marked change for Alice in scale and medium. More used to creating small scale digital video and animation this new challenge is welcome: “I think it's made me push myself to make things that are more physically demanding. It’s been really rewarding.”

Red and white imagery of figures
Alice Bajaj, BA Fine Art (Photo: Peter Cattrell)

Planning and mapping her work digitally, she then began painting the expressive and unsettling background of reds and purples. This shift in medium brought with it a shift in control as it became clear that physical unpredictability was part of the process. “At the start, I wanted to control things and make the paint do exactly what I want,” she reflects, “but on such a huge scale, you really can't control everything.”

Graduating this summer from BA Fine Art, Alice will continue her studies at the Royal College of Art. Explore more of Alice's work on the Graduate Showcase.

The Big Walls and Windows project, supported by Liquitex and Cass Art, is on show until 20 September 2021.

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