Alison Smith is an emerging artist/maker based in Leeds. Alison creates sculptural lighting and light installations using recycled materials. Alongside her practice, Alison runs educational projects and arts events, and outreach work for Ilkley Literature Festival. Alison is originally from Settle but has lived in Leeds for 13 years, since moving to study at Leeds College of Art (now known as Leeds Arts University). Over the years, Alison has worked with lots of organisations and having developed her own practice over the past two years, she’s received regular commissions from Welcome to Leeds, as well as Light Night 2016.
“I spent my childhood drawing and making things – my Mum and Gran are very crafty – so art has always been a huge part of my life”, says Alison, “by the age of ten I knew I wanted to be an artist and study art in Leeds!” Alison always begins work with materials that have been discarded, before then exploring them through craft processes (she inherited a frugal “don’t throw anything away” mentality from her Mum and Gran too!) Alison studied set design for two years and has always been interested in creating magical spaces that spark curiosity and imagination, which is where her interest in using light came in.
Alison has created two installations for Leeds Winter Moments. Frost Blossoms is a light installation made entirely from recycled packaging materials, inspired by natural ice formations called ‘frost flowers’. It creates an icy, ethereal glow in Park Square and looks as though frosty forms are erupting from the branches of the trees. Her other piece, Candy Chaos, is a playful nod to the messiness of Christmas and will feature in the window of the Park Plaza Hotel on Boar Lane. It’s made from recycled surplus packaging from the Quality Street factory (sourced from Scrap) and candy canes, and looks like explosions of sweet wrappers, inspired by the indulgence and mess we create at this time of year.
During Christmas, Alison likes to visit exhibitions and attend festive events, such as the German Market. “I think one of the best things about Leeds is the people – everyone is so friendly, and even more so at Christmas”, says Alison. “There’s so much going on in Leeds, I would recommend getting out to events and exhibitions and meeting new people. Getting involved with local arts events like Kirkstall Art Trail and Chapel Allerton Festival is a great way to get your work seen too”.