Alice Hume: Weaving History
Imagine being handed the keys to your dream studio without selling even one piece of art. Alice Hume told Fibre Arts Take Two about her amazing experience.
Alice Hume’s Friday Feature Artist Interview can be found at the bottom of this page.
Imagine being handed the keys to your dream art studio, one that overlooks the ocean, is steeped in history, and is nestled within the thick walls of a creative community, all without selling even one piece of art. That’s exactly what happened to Alice Hume.
In 2014, Alice dreamed of working out of the studio, and a mere two years later, fate stepped in. She was made redundant from her day job and, the very next day, was handed the keys to her dream studio based at Hotwalls in Old Portsmouth, United Kingdom. Since that day, in 2016, Alice’s career as a textile artist specialising in the ancient craft of weaving has taken off and she hasn’t looked back. Working with her father, she created looms as a way to recover from illness and reconnect with their family roots. Alice uses these to teach her popular weaving workshops.
Alice has studied textiles internationally at weaving schools in Sweden and Japan. She has exhibited work in Edinburgh, Alexandra Palace and hosted a solo exhibition at Apex gallery.
Alice fell in love with the site of the Hotwalls Studios before the location even became a haven for artists, “They just used to be empty arches,” she says, “They were 16th-century military barracks. I went for a walk because you can walk along the top, and then you can see the sea and the other way and all the ferries going passed, and thought, ‘Wow, I’d love to have a studio here one day’.”
Little did Alice realise, at the time, that day was to come. “I was working for retail, “ Alice says, “and I applied for a studio here. Then I got made redundant from my job and got the keys to my studio the next day. It was incredible, and I thought, ‘I’ve just got to go for it’, and I’ve been making and selling and doing workshops ever since.”
Alice has since loved her time at the studio, “There’s such a lovely community here,” she says, “We’ve got 13 studios, and there’s a window so you can see all the way through, see what everyone else is up to, and everyone working.”
Admittedly, being able to see her artist neighbours took a little adjusting to, “It took a bit of getting used to at the beginning,” Alice says, “I was like, ’Do we wave all the time at each other?’”
Getting used to it has truly paid off for Alice, “I find it really comforting,” she says, “because if I didn’t have those windows, I’d be quite lonely in my little cave. It’s nice knowing that you’ve got artists next door working, and it’s also quite motivating. I love seeing what everyone’s up to.”
The historical setting of Hotwalls Studios makes it something special as a studio space, “It’s so good for photographing your work,” says Alice, “Because they’re grade one listed buildings, we’re not allowed to paint the walls, not allowed to put screws into the walls, but I love that, it’s almost like you’re collaborating with the space.“
Alice’s receiving the keys to her new studio the day after she was made redundant is not the only serendipity in her artistic career. “When I chose my degree, I did textile design. And then we got to try different pathways so we could do printed textiles, we could do weaving knitwear fashion, and I was like, ‘right, I’m going to do printed textiles’. I loved wearing a lot of printed textiles, and then I had a go at weaving and completely fell in love with it. I loved that it’s a skill, and you get to make your own fabric, and it’s tactile and textural. Then after my degree, my mom told me that my ancestors were Flemish weavers. It’s so weird that I picked textiles and weaving, and that’s in my family.”
Her ancestors aren’t the only part of Alice’s family to play a part in her art career.
Alice’s father has become a key feature in Alice’s art, “My dad became really ill in 2015,” Alice says, “and my dad’s not a person to watch daytime TV and sit around, so I just had an idea, ‘Dad, can we just make some little frame looms?’ So those were the first looms we made from out of the attic. And we always make them out of recycled wood. Then I started teaching workshops, and he and I’ve been working together ever since. It’s a really lovely relationship.”
Aspiring artists should find Alice’s story inspirational, “When I got my studio, she says, “I’d never sold my work before, and I’d also never run a business. I had zero experience. So I’ve been learning as I’m going, which has been brilliant. But my first piece that I sold was a wall hanging called Wild Water, and it was all inspired by the sea here. The piece sold to a lady that was born in Portsmouth but lived in Australia. So it’s sold, and then she took it to Australia.”
Recently Alice enjoyed being part of an interactive group project involving other artists from Hotwalls called Interactive Weaves. “This was one of those big passion projects,” she says, “An absolute joy, one of those projects where you don’t burn out, you just keep going and go, and you think about it all day or night. It was incredible. I’d been thinking of that project idea for about five years before it was just cooking in the back of my head. I mentioned it last year. And it was incredible.”
It didn’t take long after Alice mentioned her idea before others got involved, “I got 21 Hotwalls artists involved,” she says, “and we made seven big weaves, all from waste materials. It was like a big scavenger hunt last year, collecting waste paper, plastic, textiles, and making these huge waves for the public to come along and just have a go at weaving.”
About the artist
Alice Hume is a Textile Artist and Weaver based at Hotwalls Studios in Old Portsmouth. She has been weaving for ten years and graduated from Winchester School of Art with a degree in Woven Textile Design in 2013. Alice has studied textiles internationally at weaving schools in Sweden and Japan.
After graduating, Alice collaborated with her father to make handmade frame looms called Hume Looms from recycled wood, which she uses to teach weave workshops. In 2018 she designed and created a wool window display in Covent Garden for the store Allbirds, consisting of nine handwoven wool hangings. Alice has also been awarded Arts Council funding twice, including Interactive Weaves.
Inspired by her travels and different cultures, Alice’s work combines embroidery, wrapping, knotting and hand weaving on her Harris floor Loom. She experiments with unusual materials of recycled copper, raffia and 1970’s vintage silk yarns to create wall decor, hanging copper moons, clutch bags and Textile earrings. Vanderhume is about collaboration and creating contemporary Textiles and is named after Alice’s ancestors, Flemish weavers.