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Graduate Alice is flourishing under DMU's artist-in-residency

Artist Alice Heaton says the residency programme at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has allowed her career to stay on track and flourish during her first year out of university.

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Alice working in DMU's hot shop

The 23-year-old DMU alumna, who graduated with a first-class honours degree in Design Crafts last year, started her year-long residency in September.

The Cheshire native specialises in hot-glass with mixed media and the residency means she gets to develop her craft for free at the DMU School of Design’s studios and workshops - located in the spectacular Vijay Patel Building - with support from staff, while at the same time helping students.

Alice explained: “The residency allows me to make use of DMU’s facilities and this is particularly important to me because within my chosen discipline of hot-glass, the costs associated with setting up your own studio or hiring other people’s studios can be so prohibitive initially.

“Starting out as a craft artist is daunting and so being able to discuss progress with university staff has also been really useful. Supporting students on the Design Crafts course has been another really interesting aspect of the residency.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and know that it has helped me stay on track with my work during this first year out of university.”

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An unexpected collaboration saw Alice's work strutted on the GFW catwalk

During the final year of her degree Alice collaborated with a Fashion Design student, which saw her unusual glass pieces strutted on the Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) catwalk. Since graduating, she has been busy displaying her work, creating new pieces, making inroads with selling her work and featuring in exhibitions, as well as her residency at DMU.

She manipulates glass until it is at the point of collapse, then works with it, applying vivid colours to create individual and exuberant sculptural objects.

Her degree collection, ‘Life Within’, is inspired by microscopic creatures, sponges and coral in the oceans, capturing the dynamic movement caused by underwater currents.

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She has continued to make pieces associated with this collection during her residency and it has been displayed at several exhibitions including Talent 16 as part of the London Design Festival at St John’s Square, at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester, and at the Rising Stars show at New Ashgate Gallery in Surrey.

The collection will also be showcased at the exciting Emerging Artists exhibition at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire this May and at Craft Central’s open studios event in London in the same month.

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In March, Alice got the opportunity to work at renowned glass-works Deveraux & Huskie in Wiltshire when she was selected for the fourth-annual Gather Up event for emerging glass artists. She was able to collaborate with top glass artist Elliot Walker to create a really large glass piece that she wouldn’t otherwise have been able to produce.

“Spending a weekend with such skilled individuals at this point in my career was inspiring and exciting,” said Alice.

Part of the DMU residency has also been to develop a new range of glass and supporting prints which Alice will be unveiling at the New Designers show at the Business Design Centre in London in June and July. Alice was featured there in 2016 and this year will be part of the exhibition’s One Year On stand.

Offering advice to DMU students who are thinking about applying for the residency, Alice said: “Have a clear plan of what you want to achieve from a making perspective but it’s also really important to look at it from a business point of view – that way you can really use the residency productively.

“Be prepared to be flexible with your time and accept that you are probably going to have to have a part-time job to support yourself – this means you need to be committed and organised otherwise you won’t get the best out of your residency.”

Posted on Monday 22nd May 2017

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