Leeds Summer Group Show interview series: Alice Chandler

Credit: Jules Lister/ The Tetley

The Leeds Summer Group Show is an annual exhibition started by Courtney Spencer started in 2015. This year she partnered with Leeds Inspired, CuratorSpace and The State Of The Arts to present the 2020 exhibition online in response to the unusual set of circumstances. From almost 400 submissions, the selection panel chose 38 artists to exhibit and awarded six shortlisted artists/collectives with a share of the £600 cash prize and, luckily for our readers, an interview on The State Of The Arts! The artists are: Sarah Roberts, Paris Crossley, Nisa Khan, Katie Bennett-Rice, Alice Chandler and ACCA.

Below is the fifth in our series of interviews: this time we chatted with artist and lover of all things well crafted – Alice Chandler.

What are the main themes running through your work?

I’m really interested in layered histories, etymologies, narratives, myths, and meanings around certain objects and materials – I like considering what happens when you put them in dialogue, how they begin to juxtapose, interconnect or form relationships. I love visiting archives and museums and finding out about beautiful or weird objects, but I also like using everyday familiar objects as a starting point, transforming them through material or scale to shift their meaning. I like making things – I’m interested in the crossover between art/craft and design and think about retail, mass production, the handmade, object value and function.

Credit: Harry Meadley

What were the first artworks/ artists/ experiences that made you want to create art yourself?

I’ve always liked drawing and painting but it wasn’t really until I did my foundation at Leeds in 2011 that I started to enjoy making sculpture – that course really shifted how I think about making and the limits of what art could be. I remember being really into Eva Hesse’s work and liking that sort of organic use of material. I went to study sculpture at Edinburgh and the sculpture studios there were so vast that they really allowed loads of potential for being ambitious with making sculptural work.

Credit: Jules Lister/ The Tetley

Tell me about the significance of craft and process in your work.

I am definitely a maker, I make and sell jewellery and often make quilts and things that have a dual function beyond just being exhibited in a gallery. I like thinking about this crossover and I like that there is value in making something by hand – I think it’s interesting when objects have multiple contexts depending on how they’re made or shown – and I like when things are well crafted – satisfying!

Credit: Harry Meadley

How has art and making accompanied you through the pandemic so far? Has it helped in any way or has your relationship to it changed?

I’ve been part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Network through the pandemic, run by Yorkshire Sculpture International (@ysi_sculpture), which has been really brilliant with artist talks/discussions every two weeks on Zoom. It’s been a really great way to feel connected to sculptors across the Yorkshire region. I’ve definitely not been in my studio as much, and instead have been making drawings or paintings and written some poems. I’ve maybe been feeling less attracted to make big sculptural works and focusing more on my research. I’m doing my masters in Art Gallery and Museum Studies part time at Leeds University – which has also kept me busy. I’ve written a soap opera script based around the first female staff member at Leeds University in the textile department and have found some amazing archival images in the Special Collections!

What’s the purpose of art?

I think the purpose of art is to make us ask questions and interrogate our relationship with something: the work, the gallery, the artist, society.

Credit: Corey Bartle Sanderson

What is your main source of inspiration at the moment? (Person, artwork, poem, view from the window, song, anything you’d like to mention)

I’ve been reading Mary Lowndes book on banner making. She was a stained glass window designer and suffragette, in 1910 she wrote a guide to help show women how to create their own suffrage banners, and she had some amazing views on colour combinations! I work at Sunny Bank Mills Gallery, (@sunnybankmills) and our current exhibition, The Potential of Pattern, has also been inspiring. We’ve worked with some amazing textile artists, sculptors and ceramicists: a great insight into works that explore connections between art, design and craft.

Take a look at Alice Chandler’s website here and follow her Instagram here.