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Alyssha Edwards A Problem

In Conversation: Alyssha Edwards and Alisha Lewis



Part of the Winter 2017 season

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Alisha Lewis speaks to our artist in residence, Alyssha Edwards, who is the brains behind our upcoming installation A Problem, about her creative process, what visitors can expect, and how the theme of dyslexia and identity interacts with her innovative use of technology.

A Problem 2

How did you first start your work with fine art and sculpture?

“I spent most of my A level art course painting, but after a while I realised that I wanted to explore some new directions for my art. During the first few years of my Fine Arts degree at Liverpool Hope university I began experimenting with sculpture. I worked on a sculpture project focussing on unusual shapes, including pyramids, hexagons, and triangles in my third year, which then inspired me to work with other complex 3D shapes.”

“During my third year I found inspiration for a project while doodling coffee cups and thought ‘What would I be like if I didn't have a coffee every day!’ this inspired me to design a wooden coffee cup, and later other sculptures based on everyday items that I, and those around me, couldn't live without.”

Why did you decide to work with technology in this Exhibition?

“At first I was unsure when the idea of working with technology was first introduced to me, but after working with the team in FACTLab the idea of using sound for my project really grew on me. With their help I started experimenting with Bare Touch boards, and using crocodile clips attached to conductive copper tape to create an interactive puzzle that triggered sound effects.”

“Using technology in my artwork was a completely new experience for me, and slightly nerve wracking as I was worried about breaking the technology or something going wrong. However, after working on the project for a while I became more confident in my use of technology, and feel that my project has hugely benefited because of it.”

Why did you decide to focus on dyslexia for your project, and how did that drive your creative development process?

“When I first heard of the residency and the artist of whose exhibition my work would run in parallel to - Wu Tsang - I started looking at her artwork for inspiration. I found that one of her main interests is Identity, and that led to me thinking: what exactly is Identity?”

“Identity cannot be defined by one factor, and there are several ways to describe a person’s identity: hobbies, career, gender, culture, age, circumstance, race, language, interests etc. The one subject that appealed to me the most was the idea of personal circumstances, and I began thinking of my own. I have dyslexia, and though it does not define who I am, it is part of me. However, that is only my opinion, and having dyslexia could be completely different for someone else. This line of thinking led me to question: does dyslexia define your Identity?”

“As a starting point I began recording interviews with the public, whilst researching dyslexia. One of the key points I discovered was that some of the public didn’t even know what dyslexia is, or how it affects everyone differently. From this research, I started sketching out ideas around how I wanted the public to experience dyslexia in some way that didn’t involve letters or words. Originally, I was working to create a sound art piece, but felt that it wasn’t strong enough to draw attention. Nevertheless, I wanted the narrative to be included, as in each of the interviews, one person had said something that spoke volumes and that had to be included in the final art work.”

“One of my ideas was to create a 3D puzzle that you could take apart and to be remade as a word or phrase associated with dyslexia. The next step of the process was to consider using a 3D printer to make puzzle pieces which, when put together, would be used as a switch to play the interviews I had recorded with members of the public. I encountered some technical difficulties, so used some of my production budget to consult with Liverpool-based artist Laura Pullig, who works with analogue and lo-fi electronics, who helped me to reprogramme the Bare Touch board. The track recordings are a mixture of random everyday sounds and 10 seconds of the each key points of every interview. This adds to the motivation of completing the puzzle and listening for the sounds.”

What do you want people to take away from this exhibition, and how have you used technology to get that message across?

“Using technology helps my exhibition to give people some idea of what it's like to learn new tasks from the viewpoint of someone with dyslexia working in a classroom environment. I want people to use this experience to better understand dyslexia, and to challenge some of the stigma and misinformation surrounding dyslexia by giving people a chance to experience the task involved in the exhibition from a new perspective.”

“I want people to enjoy the exhibition as much as I have while working on it, and hope people don't get too frustrated with the interactive element!”

Interview by Alisha Lewis. Alisha is a student at the University of Liverpool, Studying Politics and Philosophy, and recently completed a work placement with FACT’s Programme team. She is Chair of the Liverpool Young Liberals and the Lib Dem Ward Lead for Mossley Hill, and is a political commentator for BackBench UK.