Alke Schmidt’s work combines beautiful form with thought-provoking subjects. Painting is often interwoven with the decorative patterns of found fabrics, images or text, selected for their historical, cultural or symbolic associations. Alke, who brings together the role of the artist as a creator and a discerning citizen, uses the visually seductive qualities of her works to address contemporary social and environmental injustices.
Her work also places these issues in a historical context, reflecting Alke’s belief that we must remember the past to understand and improve today’s world.
In several recent projects, Alke has focused on involving historical museum collections and heritage sites, emphasizing their contemporary relevance. She is currently preparing new work for a major solo exhibition in 2021 at Rydals Museum, located in Sweden’s most important historical textile factory. The exhibition builds on her earlier work exploring the politics of global textile supply chains past and present, and how the textile industry influences and connects people across continents.
She has had solo exhibitions at William Morris Gallery (2014/15), Cromford Mills World Heritage Site (2015), the People’s History Museum, Manchester (2017), as well as the Arts Council England-backed project Wonder and Dread, comprising a residency and solo exhibition at Bradford Industrial Museum (2018) and a new site-specific commission for Salts Mill, Saltaire.
In 2019, Alke curated SWARM, an exhibition at London’s Vestry House Museum of new works by herself and 4 other artists who responded to the crisis our pollinating insects were facing. The exhibition and events programme, which extended to the museum’s pollinator-friendly garden, were part of a year-long programme of culture celebrations in her local Borough, Waltham Forest.
Since completing her MA Fine Art at the John Cass School of Art in London, Alke has exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions in the UK and internationally, in collaboration with museums, curators, galleries and non-profits. She is also a strong supporter of local arts initiatives and events.
Alke’s work is in private collections in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, the US and Australia, as well as in the collections of the Arkwright Society, the City Lit and the Vestry House Museum. Alke lives and works in London.