Ali was born in Belfast and has been painting for as long as she can remember. She studied in England and has a First Degree in the History of Art and a Masters in Conservation. After qualifying and working for a period of time in London, including in the Tate Gallery, her love for Northern Ireland drew her home. Her training in Conservation has given her a great understanding of, and deep passion for, materials and a special love of paint effects. She works mostly in acrylic, and favours a direct technique of painting with frequent use of a palette knife.