Alice White ASGFA on her ZSL London Zoo Artist Residency


Sketching, drawing and painting are all equally important processes for me as an artist. Since graduating from Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2005, I have conducted my oil painting practice from my studio in London, creating artwork which celebrates the beauty and voracity of natural forms.

Alice White ASGFA "Crystal Bubble Fish" sketch

Alice White ASGFA “Crystal Bubble Fish” sketch

My main focus has always been on animals which seem to embody or evoke recognisable, almost ‘human’ qualities of emotion.

I love the sinewy limbs of wolves, the complex, rugged heads of cows, the depth and tensile strength of tentacles. In short, I will paint anything that moves. I sketch every single day, for hours. My studio shelves heave with sketchbooks going back over years, full of drawings in coloured pencil, acrylic inks, graphite sticks and very occasionally, regular pencils. I prefer to draw in light coloured tones, as I’m usually trying out colour palettes which I’ll later develop through the painting process.

Alice White ASGFA " Young Hippocampus Hippocampus Gold", black ink on paper, 21x 29 cm.

Alice White ASGFA ” Young Hippocampus Hippocampus Gold”, black ink on paper, 21x 29 cm.

As I sketch on such a regular basis, I will often repeat studies of the same few animals over and over. It’s when I notice that I’ve done several studies of the same creature in my sketchbook, and realise that form is something which is fighting its way through all my other visual source material, that I’ll go to canvas. At other times, my sketches will take on a clearer, more vigorous line, and the composition itself will be ripe for a good tonal ink drawing, pure and unadulterated by colour. In that case, I’ll get to work with my pen and nib.

Alice White ASGFA "Jovial Squid", ink on paper, 50 x 50cm

Alice White ASGFA “Jovial Squid”, ink on paper, 50 x 50cm

This investigative process of making, whereby I combine various materials and working methods depending on the qualities of each individual subject matter, has been extremely useful during my most recent project.

My year’s residency as Artist for Animals at ZSL London Zoo took me on an incredible creative journey, investigating marine species of every kind, from seahorses to deep sea sharks, tiny little eels to colonies of living coral, and vast quantities of fish of every shape, size and colour imaginable. My aim was  to connect with the conservation science being actively practiced and developed on site at the zoo. I had the good fortune to work with specialists from all areas of zoology, from the aquarists breeding rare species of endangered fish to the pathologists studying whales, porpoises and sharks indigenous to UK waters. My artistic research takes the forms of drawings, paintings and interviews in my ongoing project entitled ‘A New Wave: Art and Conservation Science’. 

My solo exhibition at ZSL London Zoo Aquarium in Spring 2015 was the first painting exhibition to launch on zoo grounds. Since then I have continued to work in collaboration with marine conservation scientists, producing artwork which brings the beauty and complexity of marine life to the surface of the page.

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Alice White at her Exhibition Opening

Forthcoming group shows include the Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA) Annual Exhibition 2016 at Mall Galleries  the Society’s largest ever exhibition to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its Royal Charter. Alice has also exhibited at the Music Room in Mayfair, Kingly Court in Carnaby Street, and the Affordable Art Fair in New York and London.
She is an Associate Lecturer at Central St Martins College of Art and Design, where she teaches drawing and painting.

About Charlie Kirkham

West Midlands based UK visual artist.
This entry was posted in Artist in Residence, Drawing in the Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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