Profile: Alice Fox

Sustainability is at the heart of Alice Fox’s practice. The desire to take an ethical approach has driven a shift from using conventional art and textile materials into exploring found objects, gathered materials and natural processes. Alice gathers the materials that are available to her, testing, sampling and exploring them to find possibilities using her textiles-based skill set and techniques borrowed from soft basketry.

Establishing an allotment garden as a source of materials for her work has provided a space where Alice can experiment, exploring the potential of what grows there, planted and wild, as well as other materials found on the plot. This allowed Alice to really focus on material sourcing and consider self-sufficiency in terms of art materials.

Materials are produced, gathered and processed seasonally and are hard-won: There may only be a small batch of each type of usable material each year. As a result, each bundle of dandelion stems, sweetcorn fibre or hand processed flax is enormously precious by its scarcity and the meaning attached to it through its sourcing and hand-processing.Alongside the use of materials for 3D making, Alice gathers plant material to make inks, dyes and stains. This is a ‘bricolage’ approach to making: using what is at hand on the plot and exploring the materiality and potential of those materials within the context of Alice’s making skills.

The plant fibre Alice uses is very different to commercially produced yarn, so what she can do with it is dictated by the properties of the fibre, but also the particular growing season and how she processes it. Alice has enjoyed getting to know some of the less-obvious materials available on the allotment – dandelions, for instance, which have lovely shiny stems when twisted into cordage or woven.

It is only by handling and manipulating a material that you can start to understand the nuances of its possibilities and limitations. There are some materials for which it is obvious how to use them or have a tradition of use for fibre. By exploring some of these more conventional materials Alice has learnt to explore possibilities with less obvious ones.

Alices’ work is currently on show with Sunnybank Mills, Leeds (until 13th March), Gallery 57, Arundel (until 19th March), and will be at Collect 25-27 February with Jaggedart.

Alice’s book Plot 105 is available from her website.

Instagram and Twitter:  @alicefoxartist
With thanks to Alice Fox for the text. Images by Sarah Mason

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