“When you see something on the wall and it’s bigger than you, It’s immersive and engulfing.”

29th March 2023 by Imogen in Blog

Artist Alice Robinson-Carter joins the gallery.

We’re delighted to welcome Alice Robinson-Carter to Livingstone St. Ives. We caught up with her to talk canvases, scale and the gig-rowing World Championships.

What was the inspiration for your latest body of work?

A lot of my inspiration comes from the rocks and formation of the landscape, the textures and colours as well as the shape. For each piece I work in layers, thinking about the nooks and crannies in each rock, the details. You have to take the time to really look at those objects. Those forms create the lines that run through the painting, representing the landscape, the relationship and energy between the sea and the land, the small and large scale. I like to enlarge objects which are usually small and turn them into larger areas of the landscape, larger moments within the painting. They become the main feature.

Can you tell us about your practice? How do you prefer to work?

I work from sketches and photographs –  I take my sketchbook to different locations and try to capture those natural compositions. I work with the horizon line, trying to subvert it to shift my perspective and avoid the generic placement of sky, horizon, land. I find myself changing my perspective and that shifts the whole aspect of the painting.

I take photos as a record of colour and detail – I find it stressful to paint on location, there’s so much stuff to take and because of how I work in layers, there isn’t time to let it dry. Sketches are much better to get that immediate impression.

There’s a lot of removing layers and scraping back, different paints, oil sticks, acrylics, oil resists – it’s a conversation within different materials.  I can get lost in it, but that’s my expression, that’s the beauty of it, I think. I love working with different materials, it’s playful, physical and constantly evolving. I don’t have a piece in mind when I start – it’s an intuitive process.

I’m in the studio at least three days a week, whenever I can. I’m a gig rower and at the moment I’m in training for the World Championships next month, so I’m rowing four times a week. It’s an amazing sport: it gives you a different perspective, gets you outside, takes you to lovely places.

Have there been any recent developments in your work that you are excited about?

I’ve just started stretching my own canvas, which means I’ve been able to work on a much larger scale. I love the physically of the process and I really wanted to put that energy in to my painting. I had a pull to make large pieces and its very serendipitous that Livingstone St. Ives wants paintings on that scale.

The largest piece I’ve done to date is 150 x 150 cms. It has a real sense of play and space for all these colours – when I looked at it, I felt excited. It’s the feeling you get from a larger piece – when you see something on the wall and it’s bigger than you, It’s immersive and engulfing.

As well as a painter, you are also a printmaker – do you find that the one informs the other, or are they completely separate disciplines ?

The prints have taken a backseat recently and I feel like I’m finding a stronger connection to painting. At uni I studied printmaking, illustration and design; it was always about fulfilling the brief whereas painting was more about my personal expression. I consider myself more of a painter now, although the techniques of printmaking and lino cuts taught me about layering, so the two are always in conversation with each other. It helped me understand painting in a different way. Print making requires fixed steps but I like to blur those defined lines.

Can you tell us about your journey into painting?

My mother was a curator and worked for the Arts Council, and my father was a stained-glass artist, so I’ve always been surrounded by conversations about art, by friends of the family who were artists, seeing touring international painters around the table growing up. I’ve always had that widow into what an artist is, what they can be. That early experience has always been a huge fire to my self-led practise.

Education has helped me to structure that, but it always comes back to what I absorbed growing up. I undertook a Foundation Course Plymouth Art College when I was 17 to 18, and it was great to play and experiment, then I spent three years doing other things – I worked as an au pair, a pastry chef, a musician. The four areas I’ve always been interested in are singing, music, cooking and art. They’re all about making, about expressing through activity.

I chose to focus on illustration – I wanted to work in teams with a brief, rather than being alone in the studio every day, I wanted that social engagement. I did an artist residency with a publishing house which was a good focus in lockdown, to create a body of work inspired by Dartmoor to run alongside an anthology about the region, which is being published this spring. That experience gave me the confidence to stage my own solo show in Christmas 2021.

But in terms of painting, I’ve never actually been taught, it’s a self-taught thing. I’ve broken a lot of rules and taken inspiration from Modernist painters, although I don’t want to study then in too much granular detail or try to recreate their works – I’m worried about spoiling the personal discovery, the magic of something coming to you.

What draws you to St. Ives?

I’ve spent more and more time here, and the light is incredible – everyone says it but I can’t not say that. Walking west reminds me of Dartmoor, these rich purply tones and oranges, the shapes of the rocks. There’s a clash of soft shapes and hard textures, that complexity and crossover. There’s a clarity to St. Ives, a fresh and optimistic feeling, the sea is so lively and it feels like there’s energy all around you.

I have been on the graduate program through Cultivator Cornwall and with support from Field Notes for the last nine months, which is coming to an end now. We’ve had our final show with a variety of artists – tattoo artists, architects, there’s a fascinating overlap in those areas.

I’m inspired by Porthmeor; it’s softened out my skies and my technique; its less harsh and jagged than further up the peninsula. I’ve made things looser and more playful with a new way of painting.

You can see all of Alice’s new paintings on our website here, and look out for her work in Spring Tide, our group exhibition showing at Westcotts Quay, St. Ives from 6th March – 30th March 2023, and transfering to Clifton from 1st April – 30th April 2023.

Sign Up

Sign up to our mailing list to receive free shipping on your first order, as well as exclusive updates on new paintings and our forthcoming exhibitions.

Sign up successful - please use code FABULOUSSHIP at checkout to receive free shipping