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Meet the Maker - Alice Berry

Auckland based painter and graphic designer Alice Berry has released new work for her 'Uncut Gems' series, an ongoing collection of paintings which reference the beauty of the imperfect, each painting is inspired by it's own gem. We recently visited Alice in her home studio in Mount Eden to learn a bit more about her and to watch her work.

How did you start your career as an artist?

I've always painted but I started my career as a graphic designer. As part of my final year of study in 2010 I illustrated a range of cards and prints and somehow Elliot (endemicworld creator) and I met each other and my first step towards being an artist started with selling print through endemicworld. Over the years I'd paint for fun and then in 2016 I created a collection of paintings and decided it was time to give art a real shot! So I hired a space and put on my first ever solo exhibition. It was only 2 days but was super exciting.

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What is your background? Did you go to art school? 

As a kid I did after school art classes with a local Tauranga artist Hayley Brown, who helped me express freedom in my creations. My first group exhibition I was 11 or 12 and I exhibited an abstract oil painting. I did art during high school but hated how limiting it, so I started focusing my attention on other subjects. My first year of University I was studying to become a Town Planner when I realised that it was absolutely not for me and left at the end of my first year.

After a bit of thought I decided to apply to design school with the intention of becoming a Graphic Designer. I whipped up a (pretty shitty) portfolio, got in some how and headed back to Dunedin. I worked full time as a designer for about 5 years while also freelancing and creating and selling my own products.

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Can you describe your style and how you came to it?

My style is very loose but distinct. I use a lot of colour, texture and organic shapes. Abstract expressionism has always come naturally to me. I suck at painting anything realistic and I don't enjoy it so I don't do it! The freedom and expression that can come through abstract work is my favourite thing about it. The viewer can feel the energy of the work while also seeing something completely different to the next person. The movement and texture can bring so much energy to a space. I also love to experiment so my 'style' changes with time but still has my sense of colour, texture and personality in it.

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What are the main themes/ideas in your art?

I'm influenced by my experiences and memories, so my themes come mostly from those. The experiences that inspire me the most are with nature; the vibes and energy from an afternoon in a beautiful garden, swimming in the sea, the warmth of the sun. I take those and express them in work that will pass that on to the viewer.

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What is your process for creating a new artwork?

Just start. I don't sketch, mock up, do practices or anything. When I'm inspired I can see the colours in my head and then just go for it. I'll always have music playing and the rhythm of that also influences the pace and flow of the painting. It takes multiple sessions to create my works as I use very thick layers of paint. As the layer sits drying I can start imagining what I might do next. Over time it starts to reveal itself to me and one day I'll just feel it is finished. Once the work is frame I'll add the finishing touches.
 
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What materials do you like to work with you when creating your art?

I work exclusively with acrylic paints. I don't have the patience for oils haha. The colours are vibrant and I use water to thin layers out or let some paints semi dry out which gives a really thick oil-like consistency for lots of texture. Brushes are my main tools but I also use my hands, cloth and other random bits to apply the paint.
 
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 What or who is your main source of inspiration?

Nature is my biggest inspiration. Some artists and people I love and who inspire me are Robyn Kahukiwa, Guy Harkness, Picasso, Takeawei Ceramics, Mark Conlan, Yayoi Kusama, Lorde, David Attenborough and Gaudi.

Where do you create your art?

I have a small studio space at my flat. Got a drop sheet taped to the floor so I don't accidentally paint wooden floor boards! I then go to Studio One Toi Tu for ceramic making.

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What do you want people to think or feel when they see your art?

I'd like people to connect with my work and feel the love and energies I have put into creating them. I want them to feel like they can reach out and touch textures. I hope that each time they look at the artwork they see something new.
 
What are you working on right now?

At the moment I'm working on my Uncut Gems Series and exploring the textures, colours and vibes I can create. I'm also having fun creating ceramic vases and pretzels and things!
 
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What are your plans for the future or something you would like to work on next?

I'm applying to go to Antarctica as an artist, to explore and communicate the landscape and science on the continent.
 
Give us three words to describe your artwork.

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Shop the 'Uncut Gems' collection by Alice Berry

 

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