In the studio with… Alberta Whittle


Alberta Whittle was born in Barbados and moved to the UK as a teenager – and the artist, now based in Glasgow, often delves into the connections between the Caribbean and the UK, and forms of oblivion historical. She works in performance, sculpture and collage, but is perhaps best known for her films. “Sorry, not sorry” (2018), for example, addressed the Windrush scandal and “Between a whisper and a cry” (2019) looks at the devastating effects of the climate crisis. Whittle was one of 10 artists who received a scholarship when the annual Turner Prize was canceled; she will represent Scotland at the Venice Biennale next year. His work will be included in “Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 1950s to Now” at Tate Britain (December 1-April 3, 2022). RESET, a new film made in confinement, is at Jupiter Artland until October 31.

Where is your workshop?
At Glasgow Sculpture Studios, in the north of the city.

What do you like most about space?
I am very lucky that my studio is a very good size and the windows offer a wonderful view of the Glasgow skyline and the canal.

What frustrates you?
Since Covid, it’s so hard to see other people who have studios nearby. Before, you would easily meet friends in workshops or in the hallways and now you are less likely to meet people. It was such a great way to come up with ideas just grabbing someone and listening to what they think of what you are working on.

Do you work alone?
More often yes, but there are times when I’m in the studio, where I really cherish the sense of community and the advice offered.

How messy is your studio?
It’s definitely organized chaos – lots of boxes of materials and lots of miscellaneous stuff.

Photo from RESET (2020) by Alberta Whittle. Image courtesy of the artist

What does it smell like?
The window is always open so I would like to think it smells pretty cool.

What’s the strangest object in there?
Probably a bag of ash from the La Soufrière volcano in Saint-Vincent. The volcano erupted in April and blanketed Barbados in ash, so I picked it up and took it home.

What artistic tool could you least do without?
My laptop.

What’s the most popular book in your studio?
Christina sharpe In the wake: on darkness and being.

Do you pin images of other artists’ work?
I sometimes work from home and am surrounded by work images that I admire – drawings of my godchildren, postcards of Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits, an image of Hilma Af Klint and a portrait of Zanele Muholi.

Photo from RESET (2020) by Alberta Whittle.

Photo from RESET (2020) by Alberta Whittle.

What’s your typical studio lunch?
Sometimes leftovers from the day before, a little fruit and always nuts!

What do you listen to while you work?
Old school dancehall, Grace Jones, Aretha Franklin and Jessye Norman. But sometimes a podcast like Talk Art or Code Switch.

What do you usually wear while you work?
Something comfy, often a pale pink jumpsuit and usually a pair of slippers regardless of the weather.

Who is the most interesting visitor you have had in your studio?
My godchildren who had a lot of opinions about the work I was doing.

Is something (or someone) prohibited?
Me at. I am a vegetarian.

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