Alice Irwin: Drawing and Printing the Playful

I speak with Alice Irwin, soon to be graduate of the Royal College of Art to discuss interests, playful work themes and current group shows in the run up to her final graduate exhibition this year.

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We connected on Instagram, your work appears quite playful. Tell us about the kinds of themes that it addresses. 

I like to play a game with the viewer, I use stickers, playful motifs and themes of childhood. Areas of work are fun, but also everything placed in front of the viewer has a purposeful thinking behind it. It’s like a fun but serious playtime.

I've recently been looking at the children’s fortune tellers you made and would colour in, looking at the concept of how you make choices by a simple fold of the paper. I look at the uncanny a lot, I like how something feels like you've been there before. We've all had a childhood and I want the work to bring memories of this in different ways.

I collect children’s drawings and also use them for mark inspiration, whenever I am stuck or have a block I go to them to draw from. I've also an interest in playgrounds, a place a child grows in. This is something I'm thinking of interpreting into for my degree show.

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As with many new artists in London at the moment, social media and the fast-growing state of technology is at times becoming a part of how we work, or even the material we work with. In what way is technology linked to your work?

I like to use handmade with digital, pushing the idea of print. I incorporate different traditional techniques, with digital techniques. The series ‘Read a Book’ is a good example of this. For instance, I've used etching techniques alongside screen printing, and have made my own digital stickers, which were inspired by my drawings.

I love combining crisp clean effects with digitalis well as the more 'hand made' quality.

I mostly use social media as a way to show snippets of what I'm up to, and to keep in touch with what's going on. Keeping it fun and playful, with a touch of seriousness.


What’re you up to at the moment and what plans do you have planned for 2018? 

My main aim is to enjoy the last few months at The Royal College before I graduate in June. I'm currently working on my degree show and hope that the experience of the exhibitions I'm showing in will help me towards my final degree show. 

I've an Exhibition in Berlin at East of Elsewhere and I look forward to exploring the city and culture whilst showing here. I'll also be exhibiting at Sid Motion, Kings Cross (17th Jan- 17th Feb) in a group show called ‘Play on Repeat’, where the curator intends to show my latest prints in columns. It'll be entirely valuable to see how the curator understands my work and to see how someone else interprets my idea of grids.

The grid has been important to me for some time, but I want to explore it further. The grid can bring control in juxtaposition to the complexity and chaos of the group.

Follow Alice @alice.irwin_