Alice Mara is a fantastic ceramic artist that Alfred & Wilde had the pleasure of exhibiting with at the East London Design Show last year. Her playful designs are inspired by the urban environment, and are printed with photographic images of people and buildings, making them a nostalgic, humorous and honest snapshot of urban life. Alice is based in Ringmer in East Sussex where she designs, makes, and finishes all her own ceramics, and was kind enough to answer a Q&A for the Alfred & Wilde blog.
Old People Urn (2010)
What gets you up in the morning?
Well I have to get my daughter to school so that’s a really useful routine for me to have. I also usually have a schedule for the day on my phone, which I go through hour by hour.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
Tim Mara, my dad. He was a brilliant printmaker. Sadly he died at the age of 48 in 1997. At the time he was Professor of Printmaking at the Royal College of Art. Obviously, at that time, I was a stroppy teenager and twenty-something that never listened to a word of his advice. Now I always wonder what he would think about my work and often call on my memories of him to try and get guidance. My work is inspired by his work – even more so now. His prints are currently featured in a show at The Wolverhampton Art Gallery called A Big Bang
. (You can read more about Tim Mara here
Grannie's Room (2010)
What work are you most proud of?
I’m always most proud of the last piece of work that I’ve finished. Then I get bored with it and can’t wait to get on with the next idea. I made an urn for my mum’s ashes (sorry to be so bloody morbid!) but it was the start of a new body of work that was a massive leap from my previous work. The piece was shown at the Emma Hill Gallery, at an exhibition I had alongside my dad’s work. It was opened by Grayson Perry.
Pound Shop Memorium (2014)
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on my biggest piece yet. It is a large slabbed object that looks like the regency buildings of Brighton. It will be covered in imagery of drunk people and shopping trolleys and has a massive crack in it, which will have a team of builders fixing it and scaffolding. The piece is a metaphor for what’s going on in my head as well as the Brighton community.
What do you think makes a great work of art or design?
Something that is the whole package: Well made, functional, and has some kind of message or aesthetic that invokes a pleasant reaction. It should also be a piece of work that will resonate with as many people as possible, but most importantly it should be something that the maker really likes themselves.
The Street (2010)
What advice would you give to a young creative just starting out?
Marry rich…no, not really! I would say be flexible in your approach, but then totally contradict myself and say you have to focus. When I was starting out I had lots of other jobs so that I could carry on making the work. Now that I have a daughter I have had a reason to focus as my time is limited, so it depends on the circumstances. As long as you devote as much time as possible to the creative aspect that you enjoy the most, then that side will have a chance to develop into something successful.
You used to live in Walthamstow, which is very up and coming. Do you have insider tips?
I really love Eat17 and also The Windmill, which is a great Portuguese restaurant on Walthamstow Market. I can also recommend the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, and definatey a trip to Gods Own Junkyard
, an amazing neon sign shop and warehouse.
Hanging People Bowl (2014)
If you are interested in buying or commissioning work from Alice Mara please visit her website: www.alicemara.com
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