Red Dot contact details Migration Exhibition

Alison Bailey Smith


Her work has spanned almost 2 decades and three different countries since leaving Edinburgh College of Art in 1990.The motivation behind Alison’s work comes from being the child of post war parents, Scottish thriftiness and an avid watcher of Blue Peter! Her need to re-use, re-develop and re-create can be seen in her wide use of ordinary materials with extra-ordinary results.

Although her training was initially in Jewellery and silver-smithing, she has crossed over successfully into the world of textiles, costume and fashion – evident in her numerous awards (Scottish Fashion Designer of the Year, Recycling Fashion Designer of the Year and various awards for Fibre in North America and Australasia).

Alison’s staple ingredient in her work is wire that she reclaims from old televisions, the older the better. She has found over a hundred different colours and hues of copper and aluminium wire. Lately though, due to the rate of development in technology, she is finding it harder to find the old television sets and has had to resort to buying various colours of wire! There is always a high component of re-used materials in her work - whether it is re-using charity shop finds or sweetie wrappers to get the right colour. She has become increasingly aware of how wasteful our society is becoming.

News from 2011

In July, I curated an exhibition for Wirral Council called "de-junk, re-junk" at the Birkenhead Park, handing out junk and parts of my old kitchen to a group of artists, some first time recyclers, others die-hard eco minded artisans. The success of the show lead to my application for funding for recycling workshops to tie in with the 2012 de-junk, re-junk exhibition (now an annual event). I was awarded 75% of the grant I asked for, enabling 7 workshops with local artists at The Green Community Shop and Centre in the new year.

The networking event "With These Hands" that I have run for the last 2 years (at least) has been meeting once a month in cafes, community centres around Wirral and we get at least 20 people every time with at least 3 WTH virgins in our midst. I am really proud of WTH as it has spawned so many projects and has given confidence to many isolated artists. I feel we are one step closer to having a network across Wirral that can support all of us who work on our own. We are open to all artists living or working in Wirral, or to students, gallery owners, craftspeople, designers etc. We are a friendly bunch and open to welcoming more folks.

In August, I was teaching during the summer at the Williamson Art Gallery, as part of the Every Picture Tells a Story and took inpsiration from Frank Cottrell Boyce's book "Framed". I took quite a traditional approach studying classis paintings featured in the book, giving good grounding in still life painting and portrait painting as well as using collage and 3d construction.

I took part in the Wirral Open Studio Tour and found it to be a very enjoyable experience, not showing from my studio but sharing painter Xitina Ferres' wonderful home in Hoylake with Fiona Hardman, felt maker and wood carver. I am hoping to show closer to home in 2012. We also had a Christmas exhibition together

I took time out from the Oxton Art Fair after participating in all 9 previous shows (8 annual shows at the Williamson Art Gallery and 1 at St Saviours Church as part of Secret Gardens of Oxton). The fair this year had 9 invited exhibitors to fill the spots of old timers liked me who needed a break.

I particpated in a couple of shows with the Merseyside Jewellers and Metal Artists Network, Dinner for 8 in September and Sparkle @ the bluecoat in November

I am currently in the process of contemplating a new move into a more community project. So more on this in 2012. It is an exciting if scary step for myself and my new business partner. As well as this I will be bringing together my community project "Welly Road Gets the Boot in!"

On a personal level, I will be exhibiting my work in the National Museums of Liverpool, at the World Museum from mid-December, tying in with a workshop I will be running in February. I have my work with one gallery only, The Stables Gallery in Brimstage as in this current economic climate it is rather hard to sell work so have tried to limit how much I am producing. I have also cut back on selling at art/ craft fairs. I am fortunate to have a job as Art Liaison Officer for 2Bio Ltd so have the freedom to move away from the more commercial work I have been doing for the last few years and welcome the challenge of new commissions and projects for 2012.

Websites: (Alison's own site) (Oxton Art Fair will be in November)

Details of work shown

Top: Electra - made 2008 entirely from recycled materials, re-enforcing bays, galvanised tying wire, rods from old suitacases, motorbike parts, lead and floorboards, only part not recycled were the clouts nails used in the lead shoes. 2007 commissioned to make similar piece for documentary TV producer in London.
Middle: Detail of flower hat - made of reclaimed wire from old televisions (sold).
Bottom: Odd Hat - reclaimed television wire, ribbon, lined for comfort.