©2017-2018 by Reciprocal art magazine

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    Alice Irwin

    Installation shot of Game of Knowledge

    You create prints and sculpture; can you talk about the interdisciplinary aspect of your practice, and the impact that it has on the work?

    In my sculptural work, I am always thinking about print. My sculpture is layered or engraved and the forms in my sculpture often emerge from print forms. The three-fingered ‘hands’ that appear in the Perspex sculptures, Memory Play, are a good example of forms emerging out of my prints and the layering is also present here.

    I like to use screen printing and etching, which are, of course, very different processes. Etching is a traditional method with which I can get very refined detail; whereas I find that I can be a lot more expressive with screen printing. They give very different effects, and I like this contrast.

    Memory play shelf, 2018, engraved perspex, 100 x 50 x 30 cm

    What are some of the various aspects of childhood that your work explores?


    The playground is an important space in my work. In childhood, this can be a dark space but also an enjoyable one – and both are likely to be memorable. Through playing, we form aspects of our personalities that will be important in adulthood. Playing is an important part of growing up. We play mothers and fathers, we act as grown-ups but we do not have the worries of real mothers and fathers. We are in an imaginative bubble. All the playing – pretend – is preparing us for our later lives.

    SWALK!, 2018, screenprint and vinyl on paper, 100 x 150 cm

    What is your studio process like?


    Drawing is my starting point and I make a lot of drawings, which are pinned on the wall throughout a project. I work on a number of pieces at the same time so there is constantly finished and unfinished work in the studio. The way I come to a finished piece is to make lots of work through the drawings – prints as well as sculptures – and from these I generate new works following the original ideas. Everything leads to something else; work constantly evolves. I feel it is a bit like a pendulum; I go forward and then I go back in order to go forward again.

    Walkover, 2018, Velchromate, 50 x 100 cm

    There are various motifs in your work, such as the three-fingered form and the robotic figure, which are reminiscent of childhood and play. Do you draw your iconography directly from your own childhood memories, and how have these motifs evolved throughout your work?


    I imagine many of my ideas of childhood come from my subconscious. Many ideas are influenced through children’s drawing – I collect these drawings and, like Dubuffet, I am fascinated by their innocence and their perspectives on the world around them. My iconography also comes from observing people and from my imagination.

    I work a lot through repetition and these ideas have developed through this process.

    The robotic figure and three-fingered forms are key figures in the language I use. Both emerged from associations, rather as ideas emerged for the Surrealists. The images tell stories of the real world within a world of the imagination.

    How did your installation Game of Knowledge come to fruition? Did you have the installation in mind while you were making the individual works?


    Over the last year, I have been exploring the idea of creating an installation concerned with playgrounds. Some time ago, I created slides and other playground objects, and these were still in the back of my mind when I began to consider Game of Knowledge. I looked into different childhood games, and Snakes and Ladders was the one that I became interested in: it was used in ancient times for exploring life and morality. The snakes were seen as demons; the ladders were seen as helping you to climb. The game offered me a space to explore the darker side of my work and of childhood.

    The process started from the prints, and from these the ladders evolved and snakes. I am still evolving the concept of the game in my work.

    Installation shot of Game of Knowledge