Collage Artists: Alice Kiteley, Ben Jones & Michael Lacey

PickWickMagazine_Issue_02_Collage spread 6Unpredictable, experimental and exciting, a collage is the assemblage of different forms. Be it textiles, newspaper print, or found objects, literally anything can be used to produce a piece of work, meaning infinite possibilities for every creation.

I spoke to three collage artists about their favourite local haunts and what inspires their unique styles.

Alice Kiteley

What draws you to collage over other mediums?

I enjoy using a range of mediums within my work whether this is stitching or screen-printing; collage is the kind of medium where anything goes which makes it more exciting and experimental. I also really enjoy the research part of the work, in which I scour bookshops and the internet for interesting images to use.

PickWickMagazine_Issue_02_Collage spread 3Do you draw on personal experience in your work?

Well I think my background in Textiles really helps. I’ve stitched since I was young; making cross-stitch images on holiday is something I did quite often and then I continued my interest in textiles through to A-level and my Art Foundation course, in which I used stitching and screen printing for my final major project. I guess I’ve always been attracted to these forms of working and how they provide a different texture to the work.

What are your favourite materials to work with?

Instinctively I’m attracted to using pencil for everything, I love the texture a simple pencil gives and it’s something that I always carry around with me for quick sketches. I really love working with screen prints though, because of how many variations you can get from one image just by changing the colour or position. It’s so experimental and you never know how something is going to turn out until its finished, which is how I like to work.

Where are your favourite places to see art in Liverpool?

My favourite place to go is actually the Walker Art Gallery; I love the mix of old and contemporary paintings and I always notice something new. FACT always have interesting exhibitions on too and at the moment I love Jonny Hannah’s work up in Bold St Coffee, it is beautiful. I’ve also found some amazing work through the INPRINT fairs in Liverpool and Manchester, which I have been lucky enough to sell at.

PickWickMagazine_Issue_02_Collage spread 4 copy 2Ben Jones

What draws you to collage over other mediums?

I have been using collage as my preferred medium now for the past three years. I felt that my printmaking and drawing did not have enough integrity or sophistication to communicate my ideas. I have always had an interest in Dada and surrealist work that has an affiliation with collage, such as the work of Hannah Hoch and the incredible Une Semaine De Bonte by Max Ernst. My passion for both Dada and Surrealism, and eastern European illustration has had an impact on my visual language in the use of collage in my work.

Do you draw on personal experience in your work?

I tend not to draw straight from personal experience. I am more interested in interpreting text. I feel illustration has the power to be an extension of a text through the illustrator’s personal experience and/ or opinion of that particular text. Collage is my personal way of communicating text.

PickWickMagazine_Issue_02_Collage spread 4 copy 3What are your favourite materials to work with?

I first work with print making processes, mostly Linocut prints and screen-printing. This gives me a graphic shape to then collage on top of, or to use these prints to collage with directly. I then use Victorian etchings to collage together with my prints. I like the alchemy of combining these elements and the juxtaposition of delicate Victorian etchings against my graphic printmaking.

Where are your favourite places to see art in Liverpool?

I am currently lecturing at Liverpool John Moores University and am lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented young illustrators and graphic designers.

PickWickMagazine_Issue_02_Collage spread 5Michael Lacey

What draws you to collage over other mediums?

I like the unpredictability of it, and being limited by what you can find in books and magazines, which usually means the final piece is quite different to what I started out intending to make. It’s a relatively efficient way of building up very complex scenes and landscapes, which is something I find rewarding and I think leads to a longer engagement with the viewer. Also using a multitude of photographs from various sources gives my work a sort of deja-vu, semi-real quality.

Do you draw on personal experience in your work?

I think my work acts as a sort of pressure valve for turning bad thoughts into something worthwhile, but I don’t tend to realise what my work is “about” until a while after I finish it, and I absolutely hated having to constantly explain my work in tutorials at art school. I hope that what comes across is a sense of personal investment and mood. I’m more interested in what aspects of my own experience are universal than which aspects are specific to me, so any references to my own life are fairly vague and cryptic. I could explain what certain images represent, but other people have given me their ideas and they’re much more interesting.

PickWickMagazine_Issue_02_Collage spread 4What are your favourite materials to work with?

I use a lot of inks and paints to get things the right colour. I spend ages rooting round second hand bookshops and it’s good if I find books which have lots of pictures of the same sorts of things, so I can build up a picture with quite a uniform aesthetic. I’m always on the lookout for nicely illustrated architectural guides or nature photographs. Older books tend to have nicer paper which is easier to manipulate with inks and paint to get the shadows and colour relationships I’m after.

Where are your favourite places to see art in Liverpool?

I like Arena and I liked Drop The Dumbells before it closed down. Mostly I go to the Walker and the Tate and look at the permanent collection, because I like seeing the same work over periods of months or years. The Walker’s collection is so good, I’ve been going there for 25 years and I’ve yet to get bored.

(The Tate have annoyed me lately by hanging all the work in really stupid ways, like suspending paintings in mid-air on perspex sheets or painting whole rooms headache-inducing shades of pink, but it’s great for the sort of high profile exhibitions that you don’t get too much of outside of London.)

This post was written for Pickwick Magazine, out now

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About teafortwotalk

Freelance writer @Pickwickmag @Corridor8 @Biennial / Editor @artinliverpool. Available for writing and copyediting.
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