Castlefield Gallery Associates Spotlight: Alana Lake

Posted on 9 July 2024

This month we have asked Alana Lake to contribute to our Castlefield Gallery Associates Spotlight series, in which current Castlefield Gallery Associates share their thoughts on what the programme offers and how it has been useful for them.

Can you tell us a little bit about your practice?

My practice and I have been on quite a journey, especially since 2018 when I started working with glass and embracing sculpture. Before that, I primarily worked with photography and video. However, after receiving an award from the Berlin Senate (Department of Culture), I undertook three courses in glass (mould making, casting, and blowing). I also commissioned a few pieces, which was a game-changer for my practice.

My grandfather worked in a glass factory in the Midlands, and my uncle worked on the production line for Robin Reliant Motors. As a result, many of the materials I now use, such as glass, ceramic, and metal, are tied to the industrial and gendered landscapes of my upbringing. I use glass specifically to represent gender fluidity and as a material that connects to cycles of life and death. In a way, your breath breathes life into the shape of the glass. Glass is made from sand, which is essentially ground-down marine life that was once living and is now considered dead. Through intense heat, it changes from solid to liquid, forming a new life.

This magical alchemic process seduced me. Desire is central to my practice, so every material I choose has a reason for being part of my work. My current PhD, titled Towards a Pathology of Desire, adopts an autoethnographic, practice-led approach to investigate the relationship between addiction and desire. From the perspective of a queer female, I use sculpture and expanded drawing to examine whether addiction is a disease or a biology of desire.

How did you hear about Castlefield Gallery Associates and why did you want to join?

I heard about Castlefield Gallery Associates through existing members. For me, being an Associate is an opportunity to become part of a larger network, which is important after living outside the UK for eight years and returning in 2022. Joining allows me to connect with the local scene and access a range of resources designed to help artists navigate the creative field. 

What are you looking forward to most about your coming year’s membership?

I found the Arts Council England Funding Workshop really useful, with many helpful tips and tricks. This year, I hope to secure some advisory sessions. It’s always interesting to receive the membership newsletter and see what your contemporaries are doing.