Meet the Artist: Alice Clough

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Interview with Multi-disciplinary artist Alice Clough 

 You have such a wide portfolio of work from ceramics to photography and now “debossing” can you explain what this is?

My work is usually led by an idea rather than the medium itself, so I’ll use whatever feels most appropriate to explore that idea, rather than sticking to one thing. Most recently I’ve started to learn a few different printmaking techniques, one of which is debossing. This is basically the same as embossing, but instead of a design being raised up on the paper’s surface it is pressed into the surface, creating an indentation. A ‘blind’ debossing, like my ‘I Come From Rock’ series, is where this is done without using any ink so the effect is created with the texture of the paper alone.

How did you get involved with the Catalogue of Failures project? It is such a brilliant concept of ‘failure’ within creative practice being fertile and routine.

Catalogue of Failures is a project I started back in 2020. I became interested in failure through my own struggles to learn ceramics, and at the same time I was thinking about the role of vulnerability in creating social change. I wanted to look closer at the well-worn stories people tell themselves and each other about failure in the UK, and ask whether those stories are helpful. My hope for the project is that it might gradually contribute to shedding some of the social stigma that hangs around failure.

The project started by producing printed compilations of artist failures - work that artists from around the world send me. The depth and variety of this work is amazing to see, sometimes funny, thought provoking, or moving. In the art world people often share the final outcome, the polished end-product, but often there have been many, many failed experiments to get to that point. In fact failure is an essential part of the creative process, so I wanted to share this side of being creative. In 2022 I was invited to bring the project to Grays Wharf, an art space in Cornwall, where I carried out a 6-month programme of artist talks and a school workshop on the theme of failure. Again this was such a fascinating process - there’s something about the topic that really gets people talking, and our conversations have been wide-ranging - humorous, tender and philosophical all at the same time. I’m about to publish another small book as an outcome of this work, and meanwhile the regular compilations are continuing with Issue 3 due later this year. You can find out more at

You have had 3 residencies both in UK and abroad, what does this mean – are you given a brief at all?

Yes, I’m very lucky to have been on a few residencies! The residencies I have done haven’t had any sort of brief; they have been an opportunity to spend some dedicated time on my art practice with no distractions - time that can otherwise be really difficult to find if you have other commitments. Residencies are also an amazing opportunity to meet people, share ideas, and maybe even collaborate.

Your PHD at Bournemouth University sounds like it complements the academic confines when you are promoting innovative approaches?

My PhD research definitely influences my art practice, and vice versa. I really enjoy writing, and I don't feel that academic writing needs to be confining or restrictive. I think academic writing and innovation can definitely go together, the key being that academic writing should be accessible and relatable. In my PhD I am aiming for a combination of a written thesis and more experimental, artistic outputs, because I think the two will really compliment and enhance meaning if they're working together. 

Have you got plans for exhibitions soon?

Yes! I’m delighted to be showing a print of the Happisburgh Handaxe from my ‘I Come From Rock’ series at the Studio KIND. summer exhibition (22nd July - 12th August, North Devon). In September I will be sharing work at Positive Light Projects in Exeter as part of Devon Open Studios, and I’m in the process of putting together my first solo exhibition in Cornwall next year. I also regularly share my work and upcoming exhibitions on Instagram (@whatalicemade). 

Discover more about Alice and her work via her Instagram.




This interview was produced as part of the 2023 Festival of Archaeology's Archaeology and Creativity Theme Day sponsored by Thames & Hudson.

Thames & Hudson are one of the world’s leading publishers of illustrated books. They publish high-quality titles across ‎all areas of visual creativity. Their mission is to create a ‘museum without walls’ and to make accessible to a large reading public the world of art and the research of top scholars.