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The Alternative Archive artist Alana Grant grapples with the idea of being an artist and would rather discuss her dog, Lyra.

Grant’s home studio blurs the lines between life and art, an apt characterisation of her creative approach. Spilling into her courtyard is an eclectic mix of works in progress set against a lush veggie garden where several animals roam. Fitted to a mannequin is a replica of Bjork’s iconic 2001 swan dress, ready for her daughter to wear for Halloween that evening.

Alana Grant in her home studio, 2022. Photography by Duncan Wright

The themes within Grant’s work are similarly enmeshed with her personal values and experiences around environmental and social issues, sustainability, diversity, and disability advocacy. In Grant’s world, art is not separate from her life; everything needs to fit around her responsibilities as a carer and as a mum, “there’s no clear definition of anything.”

In The Alternative Archive Grant’s work “Belonging Through Play” documents her activities and those of other families raising children living with disabilities in the Mandurah community. The passage of time, however, has impacted the works initial messaging. ‘Belonging Through Play’ reflected Grant’s optimism for the services and funding available for those living with disability. Post COVID, Grant finds herself with her core funding cut and caring role amplified, “I wouldn’t be making a work about how disability is supported at the moment.”*

As for her personal practice, Grant theorises that it’s a way to process information, or just something to keep busy. Art being an enduring component of her daily routine Grant finds being labelled an artist difficult to reconcile, “I just do. Rather than me going, ‘I want to be an artist’, I’ve just made stuff forever and then it’s found places to go.”

The other aspects of the art world that Grant admires are inclusive events and spaces, and belonging in a supportive community, “when more people get involved, then the impact, as far as I’m concerned, is more profound and meaningful.” 

Before we leave Grant proposes that it might be an easier conversation if next time we could talk about her dog, Lyra, who spent the morning vying for our attention and receiving a lot of pats.

You can see Alana Grant’s work ‘Belonging Through Play’ in The Alternative Archive exhibition, touring WA until 2024.

Additionally, throughout 2023-2024 Alana is in the following exhibitions: Lovely Creatures, Painted Tree Gallery, Northcliffe (March); Peel Open Studios, Frasers Landing, Coodanup (April); Wetland Stories, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre (October) and ‘Double Happy’ with Dr Claire Pannel, Contemporary Art Spaces Mandurah (2024). You can purchase Alana’s ceramics through the Nimbin Artists Gallery, Nimbin, NSW and Under Art Gallery, Cairns, QLD.

*Since this interview, through an NDIA appeals process Alana’s daughters’ funding was reinstated, meaning they are able to participate in the world outside of surviving again.