Winter can be a difficult time of year to feel motivated to do anything, let alone sit in a cold shed-studio making work! Some tactics I fall back on when feeling unmotivated and uninspired include doodling in my sketch pad (in the warmth of the house), reading and watching artists’ lectures on youtube. The idea of ‘productivity‘ as churning out work that is exhibition-ready is not sustainable and often counter-productive. Sometimes a quieter period of reflection, learning and ‘messing about’ is a better use of time.

Last year I took part in the 64 Million Artists January Challenge of creating something everyday – with a mini brief of a theme or a challenge to use a new material. This was great to play around with new ideas and techniques, plus be inspired by others’ contributions. Maintaining a self-motivated art practice is sometimes literally about practising or repeating a process or skill that is pushed into new directions or becomes more advanced. I notice that my ideas or focus on certain objects and materials can go in cycles and that’s interesting to me in terms of recycling; ideas and materials can be recycled in art practice just as waste materials can be recycled.

Mark Twian thought everything was recycled. He wrote, “For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing.”

Although originality is a contentious point, being aware of other artists’ practices as a frame of reference but not duplicating them or plagarising them is important to me. Sometimes aspects are similar with common artistic concerns, but finding my own voice and what is important to make and do for me is my main concern. In reviewing my practice and previous work, I can see recycled ideas or obsessions with types of objects and materials. Currently it’s toilet rolls and these have previously appeared in my work in 2006 and 2012. Perhaps I’m on a 6-yearly cycle!

My recent work-in-progress includes an adapted/dysfunctional object of a toilet roll tube fitted onto a child’s paint roller (titled Toilet Roller), and some daily drawings that I’m calling Daily Constitutional. The drawings are made using an upended toilet roll tube as a stencil and I’m using leftover coffee and beetroot juice as colour washes before overlaying with pen. By making art out of waste, I’m playing around with ideas of value and questioning what is rubbish/waste/cr*p. I’m making these drawings every day as something that is ‘good for my constitution’ – fulfilling a creative need – and also playing around with euphemism. This comes full circle to the ‘feeling cr*p’ at this time of year and making questionably cr*p art out of cr*p materials.


Alice Bradshaw

Museum of Contemporary Rubbish





Dwell Time, Huddersfield – Sheffield, Spring 2019