Introducing the London-based artist Ali Glover, a creative force driven by a profound exploration of space, place, and the interplay between them. From the early days of art classes, Glover found solace and freedom in the art room. This led to a foundation course at Oxford Brookes, followed by three transformative years at Chelsea College. Shortly after this time, in 2016, his collective, F.A.F, emerged almost organically, rather than a conscious decision. F.A.F creates temporary, fantastical structures. Introducing absurd fictional sub-plots into the periphery of the city; works that exist almost in a mythical realm, their existence - and opportunities to engage with them - are fleeting, limited to station platforms and bus windows. The collective has recently showcased their work at Staffordshire Street Gallery and this summer between 19th July – 16th August showcase their work at Hypha Studios in the Short- Lived exhibition.
Glover's artistic journey reached new heights with his recent completion of an MA at Goldsmiths University, followed by his first solo exhibition at Commonage Projects ' loose teeth’ back in April. Currently, he is based at the ZK/U residency in Berlin, where he immerses himself in the urban environment and explores the multifaceted ideas that shape our urban landscapes. Glover, is embarking on exciting projects, including a collaboration with Jean Watt on a 'A Place to Rest.' This nomadic project challenges the traditional gallery setting by embracing unconventional locations, from public bathrooms to beaches and bus shelters, as spaces to sit, create, and document work. Glover is contemplating an audio piece that responds to the ongoing maintenance of cobbled streets in Berlin. Imagining an audio experience emerging from the underground as cobblestones are lifted, Glover explores the intersections of ambience, urban planning policies and mindset.
Our Interview with Ali Glover;
What are the main themes and ideas, you explore in your work, and why are they important to you?
I have a strong interest in architectural infrastructures and their influence on behavior, both in terms of physical and psychological aspects. I am particularly fascinated by intermediary or side spaces that function as "page margins," where thoughts and ideas can transition into the main space. These infrastructures often go unnoticed or are intentionally covered up, and I find great value in revealing and exploring them. I am intrigued by the various forms of language that emerge within architectural imagery and soundscapes, and how they are utilised. These in-between moments can sometimes be overlooked or invisible, but they possess the potential to shape our experiences. Ultimately, my interest stems from a curiosity about how we learn and navigate our surroundings, and the role that place and architecture play in that process.
How would you describe your artistic style? Are there any particular influences and movements that shaped your work?
When it comes to my artistic style, I find it challenging to define. I’ve always struggled with fully accepting the label of a site-specific artist as it doesn't entirely feel right for me. I would describe my work as more conceptually driven, focusing on topics related to space, place, and the interplay between them. I use space and place as mediums through which I channel and explore specific ideas. It's not necessarily about being in a particular location, but rather allowing the work to adapt and take different forms as it moves in and out of various spaces. So, I would say my practice involves site-based interventions or engagements.
In terms of influences, I draw inspiration from various sources. Artists like Gordon Matta-Clark, Francis Alys, and Michel de Certeau have had a significant impact on me. I am finding great enjoyment in the conversations and works of artists like Dan Graham and Ghislaine Leung. Additionally, I find inspiration in novels and fiction writing that incorporate an uneasy, fantastical element within our everyday reality. Music also influences my practice, and I appreciate how these diverse influences contribute to the themes and atmosphere of my work.
Did you start with the same practice, if not, how did you evolve over the years?
My artistic practice has undergone significant changes over the years. When I started my BA, very briefly I leaned towards painting, but I quickly realised that it didn't allow me to explore, explain, or discuss the ideas I wanted to convey. My practice gradually evolved into a more minimal and intervention-based approach. Over time, I began incorporating different materials and exploring their utilisation within my work. The institutional items I’ve been using recently are office ceilings, carpet tiles and emergency bulk head lights. Casting objects also became a part of my practice, transforming their purpose, use, and value. These material explorations intertwine with the concepts of site-based practice, influencing how they integrate and engage with specific locations.
Can you walk us through your creative process? how do you approach a new project?
I find it challenging to pinpoint exactly how I want my work to evolve. However, one aspect that resonates with me is the process of gathering information. I was inspired by an artist named Helen Martin who described spending three months reading and collecting information before delving into productive creative work. I adopt a similar approach, often starting projects by gathering information through walking in areas of interest, conducting field recordings, taking photos, and engaging in writing exercises in my sketchbook. This process helps me connect, explore the stability of structures, and play with fictional narratives. I accumulate audio files, as well as objects or fragments of writing, which I then incorporate into specific spaces. Music has had a significant influence on me. I'm still exploring the role that audio plays within my practice, and I'm excited to experiment with it further. Take the audio work at commonage projects, that had a more rhythmic quality compared to other audio pieces I've done previously. It helps me capture and document the essence of a site, and I'm working on finding ways to incorporate it into my practice and determine what I want to achieve through its utilisation.
As an artist, what are the challenges you face ?
One of the challenges I think we all face as artists is the exploitation of labor and unfair compensation. I’ve been really fortunate to work with some great galleries and curators but some exhibition spaces can charge excessive fees for showcasing artwork, especially for young/emerging artists. This financial strain makes it difficult for artists to sustain their practice.
Artworks and photograph's copywrites of this article:
'When the Seeping Starts' (MFA Degree show) by Ali Glover - photograph's copywrites toGillies Adamson Semple @gilliesadamsonsemple
'loose teeth' (Commonage Projects) by Ali Glover - photograph's copywrites to Reinis Lismanis @reinislismanis
'As a Child with a Matchstick Castle' (F.A.F Collective at Staffordshire Street Gallery) by Ali Glover - photograph's copywrites to Ben Deakin @bjdeakin_photography