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Introducing new artist Alice Lee!

Posted on October 29, 2015

Having joined Curious Duke Gallery last month, it is time to formally introduce new artist Alice Lee! Her geometric drawings slowly emerge to the eye as birds; you’ll have to see for yourself. 

Name: Alice Lee

Discipline: Drawing

Where do you live? Norwich

Where did you study?

Norwich University of the Arts (formerly Norwich School of Art & Design).

Barn Owl by Alice Lee


Tell us very briefly about your practice. How did you arrive in the Arts?

My current practice is predominantly illustrative with birds being my focal topic. I also do a bit of curatorial work with other artists. Having studied art at school, I went on to complete a BA in Graphic Design/ Animation followed by an MA in Curation, and carried on working in the Arts through developing self-initiated projects. Now that I’m becoming more established, I’m being approached to work on various ventures, which is really nice.

How did you come to focus your practice on birds, verging on illusions?

I’ve never thought of my work as illusions before but that’s a lovely way to describe it! The bird thing happened by chance. I bumped into an old work colleague at an exhibition opening in London and we got talking about illustration and poetry anthologies, which I have a little history in. She suggested I get in touch with an indie publisher called Sidekick Books as they often look for illustrators. At the time they were putting together a book of bird poems and needed a couple of illustrations of ducks. Up until then my work had been pretty abstract so it was great to be able to merge my style with something representational. I was really happy with the results and the response to the drawings was brilliant so I have continued to draw birds. Having said that, I’ve recently noticed that they are a reoccurring theme in my older work so perhaps it’s something that was always on the cards!

Goshawk by Alice Lee

Your creative career in general is very interesting, can you tell us a bit about it?

My creative career is divided into two parts; an arts practitioner and an arts facilitator. I really believe that you need to take time to learn and understand both sides of a coin in order to do things well. Alongside my art practice, I curate exhibitions for a mini-gallery, nestled in the corridor of a pub called The Birdcage, and also volunteer with running OUTPOST Gallery, both located in Norwich. I enjoy combining the two practices as they feed into each other. As an artist I need my own facilitator, which is why I value working with places such as Curious Duke. The support and guidance from another person is a massive motivator and allows me to concentrate directly on my drawing. The curatorial side of what I do works because I understand what an artist needs from a facilitator, based upon my own experience. Both things are hugely rewarding but in different ways.


You are very involved in poetry publications and independent publishers, what are your thoughts on this growing trend in the UK?

I wouldn’t say it was necessarily a ‘growing’ trend as I think that kind of publishing has always been part of our sub-culture. I’m very pro-D.I.Y. and really admire people who are driven enough to produce things independent of corporate restraints. I think it allows room for greater creativity to happen. Working with smaller budgets, for example, means you have to consider your options with extra care, everything is less formalized and more experimental and, in general, this leads to more thoughtful and interesting outcomes. Every page counts. Poetry is still a relatively niche area of literature and its shorter format lends itself to independent publishing, as you can make a run of decent pamphlets or magazines at low cost. We live in an age where it’s much easier to promote and make visible what we do through social media, so things appear to be growing but it’s a sort of false economy. In reality how many people do you see on the tube reading a magazine or book compared to a phone or Kindle? I’m really happy that there are people out there who are passionate about actual pages and continue to keep indie publishing a firm fixture in our sub-culture. I’m hopeful that physical publications don’t become future relics as there is something so indescribably special about seeing your work in print and, most importantly, it’s real, a beautiful thing you can touch and keep, not just a load of pixels on a screen.

Kestel by Alice Lee

Do you have a routine, or an exercise you have to do get you started?

On days I set aside to make work, I sit around feeling 'tortured' for several hours and then eventually pick up a pencil around 4pm.


What are your ambitions in the art world?

So far my journey in the art world has been fairly slow and steady but I’m definitely picking up a bit of momentum so I’m excited to see where I end up. I don't have a master plan. I’d really love to make a book of some sort but not sure about what yet, hopefully a reason or subject will reveal itself soon! Other than that, to continue making work and doing projects that I enjoy.


What advice would you have for anyone starting out?

Always make time for your work.


Thank you Alice! It is great to hear from somebody on the inside of the art world.


Liked this? We will be interviewing new artist Tessa Houghton next week.


Written by Curious Duke Gallery blogger Sinéad Loftus.

Lover of all art and fluffy cats.