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Meet the Maker 2020 - Alice Walton

Every Colour in Design Award trophy is a unique piece of work commissioned from a talented ‘One to Watch’ spotted by the judges. This year the first of 3 awards for 2020 has been designed and made by ceramicist Alice Walton who was exhibiting her work in the Future Heritage exhibition at Decorex. Find out more about this talented maker.

Where did you study and course did you take?

 I began working with ceramics at Wimbledon School of Art. This was the first time I had worked with clay and enjoyed it so much. I planned to continue working in the field of ceramics but thought it would be good to explore other materials so went on to study at Brighton University for my Undergraduate course in Wood, Metal, Ceramics and Plastics. I continued to make in clay but wanted to improve the work I was producing so decided to refine this by carrying out a Postgraduate in Ceramics at the Royal College of Art.

What does it mean to be asked to make a Colour in Design Award?

I was honoured to be asked to create the Colour Design Award for 2020 because I absolutely love working with colour. It gave me the opportunity to showcase what I can do on a small scale and allowed me to concentrate on blending colours and tones. I am also so happy that my award will be given to a talented new graduate. I found that when I was a student, acknowledgements for successes were so important, it would drive me to push my ideas and would renew my confidence in my practise.

Where did the inspiration for the award come from?

I wanted to create something colourful, bright and joyful to give to celebrate the success of the award winner. I took inspiration from the circular rainbow design of the Colour in Design Award logo and combined it with a study I have been exploring on inspiration that I see around me in the street. Specifically, everyday objects that we pass by around us: bollards, fences, bridges etc. I enjoy seeing how these objects change and vary day by day depending on weather, temperature and human impact. I normally travel, stop and look, arrive at the studio and then draw from memory. This break in time allows for abstraction to happen as I remember and forget certain things. I then make directly from my drawings.

How do you choose colours for your work – what inspires your colour choice?

During my Masters at the Royal College of Art I was awarded the Eduardo Paolozzi Travel Grant. I used this to travel to Rajasthan in India as this district is known for its vivid use of colour. The vividly painted & sun-bleached street walls and the monsoon-drenched temples, to me, instantly resembled the dry powdery palette of coloured clays and I saw it as a time where I could gain confidence to use it in my ceramics. Now back in England, I still look at my surroundings for inspiration with colour. I also love looking at old maps of my areas of travel to inspire combinations of colour.

How important do you think colour is to the success of a design?

I think that colour can make or break a design or artwork. I think colour can give you an instant feeling at that specific time and can affect you in the moment or remind you of your past. It can make you attracted to an object or repelled by it. I find that when I am selecting colour, I consider the combination of colours and question how one colour sits next to another and whether this creates a tonal shift. I look at how colour can work in gloss (glaze) or matt porcelain surface. I also think about where I see my sculptures sitting so question how the colour appears in natural or artificial light.

Creative high point?

A creative high point for me was to be selected for Future Heritage at Decorex International in 2019. I had been aware of this specially curated show for years and knew it was a fantastic opportunity to showcase what I can do. The development for it also allowed me to make a huge amount of work and develop sculptures which could now be wall mounted. Showing my work here has led onto future opportunities and created new contacts so I am incredibly grateful.

Creative low point?

I think my creative low was last year. I spent about a month making a large complex sculpture which I worked incredibly hard on to get finished for a deadline. I rushed its drying and despite putting it on a drying cycle in the kiln for two days the piece was still wet. This caused the piece to break irreparably during the firing which was incredibly disheartening. I was upset but mainly angry with myself that I had pushed my luck and still went ahead to fire it in the kiln. I threw it away, dried my eyes, and started it again. Never again will I fire a sculpture so quickly!

What are you working on next?

In terms of my making I am working on some designs for 2021 Collect and I am excited to be showing there with the award-winning Ting Ying Gallery for the first time. On top of this I am working on moving house and setting up my own, independent work space. My fiancé and I are moving out of Bristol into rural Somerset where I plan to build my own studio. From there I hope to run online classes which can be used to supplement and support my making.

Have you any advice for the winner of the award? – advice about creative life and how to approach it.

 If you want to build a career being an artist, you have to remember that this probably won’t happen overnight. I would suggest that you need to be patient and persevere. Do not be put off if an opportunity doesn’t happen, try again and learn from your mistakes. Being an artist and self-employed means there are always ebbs and flows to your workload. Even if you are busy making for a project you should always be on the look-out for new opportunities.


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