Good Morning! Today's Meet the Maker interview comes from the lovely Ali Corder. Ali's vintage penny jewellery are a real favorite in our shops. We caught up with her to find out more about the story behind the penny and why they are so lucky....
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?
My name is Ali; my work is really about storytelling. I’m really interested in the stories people pass on, friend-to-friend or generation-to-generation. I particularly like folk stories, proverbs and old wives tales; it’s a belief system that gives people faith or hope, I love that. I love words as much as pictures, sometimes words paint a better picture than paints and sometimes a painting tells a better story than a pen. The medium and format is important and I love to try and find the best way to tell the story.
Apart from creating things what else do you do?
I feel like we are all creating all of the time but I guess it’s just how you look at things. I took a year off after my foundation, to earn some money, which turned into over ten years before I went back and finally got a fine art degree. In that time I trained as a chef and had my son Red, so I still enjoy cooking, in fact more so, now I don’t have to do it for work. I have a good friend who is a potter and as we both work from home we both instigate meeting up a couple of times a week, either just together or with other friends, just to keep us both sane. Other people are important, we might talk about new ideas and work or just hit the charity shops but we both feel better afterwards.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I’ve always drawn and made stuff, as a kid I always wanted to draw for a living but didn’t really have the confidence to think I was good enough. My sister always wanted to be a writer, she would write plays and we would make sets and act them out to family. She still writes and I still make and draw. I feel lucky that I can spend the majority of my time doing something I love.
What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
I love drawing and collage, I love the simplicity of making something with just paper and a pencil, it’s really raw, just the idea. I also love paper, old paper, old patterns, putting together different textures and patterns really can bring something to life. The jewellery I make is just an extension of this. The format is a penny or a sixpence, themselves considered lucky, then it’s about putting together the picture and colours and letting the piece tell the story. I like the fact that the penny is believed to be lucky and so might be the swallow on the penny, like double luck. Even if you don’t believe in luck its still a nice story and atheistically pleasing.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes, obviously from books and stories. I loved reading as a child and children’s stories are particularly good when it comes to beliefs and morals. I probably have more children’s books now than when I was young! I love them, I love the illustrations and I love the moralistic edge to a lot of them. I am a big Maurice Sendak fan and Dr Seuss I had a Dr Seuss book that contained green eggs and ham, the star bellied sneeches and pale green pants, which was a favourite. They were all about not being afraid to try new things, meet new people and realizing we are all different. There’s a beauty in that, it would be a dull world if we were all the same. Being confident in who you are and believing in yourself is how you find your place in the world. It authenticates what you do, especially creatively.
Describe your studio or workspace?
I have a small workspace at home, I have cupboards full of supplies but where I work is all about space saving. I have a desk upstairs and tend to do most of my work there. Although when it comes to ideas, I have a pad and pen on me and tend to sketch or write wherever I am. The world and the people in it is where you find inspirations so it’s good to work out and about. My desk is always pretty cluttered, but its good to have a central point for work otherwise I tend to lose things. I have a couple of drawers that I use just for drying, I have very nosy cats so it’s good to shut them away while they set or dry!
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
If I had to pick one person I think it would have to be Joseph Cornell. His studio was his cellar, or, as he called it, his ‘spare parts department’. I love his work and his love of just about everything. People say it was stuffed full of labelled boxes, themselves stuffed full of, well, who knows really. His glass jars contained 'the speed of light’ and 'A thousand and one nights’, so I would love to have had a rummage.
How would you describe your creative process?
I get ideas from all over the place, books, people, then I write down a few notes, the ones that are legible and I can remember what I was thinking get made into sketches and then I decide how I’m going to present them, whether it be a painting, drawing, collage or something wearable. All the while I am collecting paper, patterns, stuff and things, generally these get hoarded away and sometimes they get together with the ideas and make something lovely.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I have a few, my friend and fellow maker, Eunice Wilson (little sewing society) made me a vintage leather hand bound book filled with fabriano, so at the moment I’m a little bit in love with that. Another favourite is a smoke fired clay heart that I made with my friend and potter, Kath Cooper. We were having an open studio and she was holding a few smoke firing workshops and helped me make it. It just reminds me what a lovely week we had, sitting in the garden eating hummus and smoking clay.
If I’m stuck I generally have to keep busy. I usually do something a bit boring so I can file things in my brain and see where to go next. Walking is good, that definitely makes me feel better, but I’m a bit of a gamer so I do tend to log on and play some pretty easy online games. I call it procrastinating; my son calls it skiving. Nothing too complicated or long winded, something simple so I can think at the same time. Pressure helps, if I don’t have a deadline I tend to not focus well, and I tend to get in the zone and do lots of work and then have a few days where I just mess about with ideas.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Not too far from here really, for me it’s not really about money, I have a need to get all these ideas out of me, it’s great to be able just to get them out of my head, it’ a bonus that other people like or want them. Other than that it’s about the people you meet, I love getting involved in communities of creative’s, there is always a connection, like you understand. A fellow artist at paper.scissors.stone said to me last year, “ Artists are just kids that never grew up.” It feels a bit like that, you meet other people that just like playing and it makes you want to join the game. So I want to carry on making, meeting people, getting excited about ideas and being part of the game.
Thank you Ali for such a lovely interview! You can find Ali's work in our Made in Britain shop and Ali currently has an exhibition with the talented Jess Quinn from Paper Scissors Stone at Tobacco Factory,
Tobacco Factory Cafe/Bar - exhibition
Two of Made in Bristol's finest artists have come together for an exhibition at the Tobacco Factory.
'Alice Corder is inspired by story telling, particularly superstitions, traditions and passed down wisdoms. Working in a mixed media of painting, drawing and vintage print she visually re-interprets these old stories and proverbs. Jess Quinn trained as a painter at Glasgow School of Art. She works in a variety of mediums combining 'high' and 'low' art, working with textiles, embroidery, knitting and colour that are historically associated with craft and women's work/ pastimes plus an interest in early cartoons, advertisement's, cheap plastic toys, movies, manga and animation. Childhood and toys are constant themes, with the darker side of fairy tales being of particular interest.'
Made in Britain
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