How did your artistic journey start, Alexandra?
I had applied to a local portfolio preparation course with really no great thought about it. I remember I had a few drawings and photographs I had put together for the interview. I was extremely fortunate to have a tutor who inspired me, someone who I consider a true artist. I felt I had fallen into something at the right time and place. I have so many special memories of that period of my life and it was during this time I began to take seriously the idea of applying to art school.
How did you arrive at the theme of your work?
The limitations of Covid-19 brought about a renewed interest in collage for me. Throughout this time it became a kind of routine practice, one I could spend some time over each day. I had many art magazines collected from my time as a student that I used for my material. I find the art of collage to be a method of expressing myself that I gravitate towards first. In 2021/22 I began working again with printmaking, mainly etching and monotypes.
Can you walk us through your creative process?
Most of the collages are made in my flat, in my living room. I have stacks of papers and ephemera I’ll look through, searching for images and text that I feel fit. Sometimes it comes together, sometimes not. I’ll put BBC Radio 6 on and I’m quite happy. I visit my studio in Bridgeton where I rent a space opposite to work on my etchings and monotypes as they have a proper press.
How has your practice changed over time?
I went from viewing my work very rigidly throughout and after graduating from the Edinburgh College of Art. I really can’t understand it now but I had the feeling of pressure to maintain this idea that because I studied sculpture, I must stick to sculpture. Absolutely nothing sculptural came naturally to me. When I got my studio, I spent an uncomfortable year pretending to myself that this was what I should continue with. In 2020 somehow only then could I return to a kind of default setting within myself.
How do you overcome creative blocks?
I don’t fight them, I let it pass with time. Out of nowhere something will come along and change the story.
If you are really keen to overcome a block, I find being in a new environment helps. Walking through a residential area of Rome lately, looking at balconies with laundry hanging outside and ordinary people in the street was enough for me to feel inspired for many months ahead!
Who influences you? Which other artists work do you love?
Two artists that I seem to return back to are Collier Schorr and Nicole Eisenman. I discovered Schorr’s work back in 2010 in an issue of Dazed & Confused, a spread titled ‘Touched by Youth’. I was especially inspired by her early photographic and collage work during the time she was living in a small town in Southern Germany. The Jens F and Blumen series have correlating themes of identity, landscape, townspeople and nationality which continue to inspire me today.
With Eisenman, I was initially drawn to the surreal and dark humour within her work, her ability to express loneliness and alienation as well as intimacy. Paintings such as Beer Garden with A.K, Dinner Party and Sloppy Bar Room Kiss stay in my mind when I think of Eisenman. Her prints, particularly the etchings and monotypes have been a source of inspiration to me within the last two years since I’ve worked more with printmaking myself. I really admire her work.
A book I read last summer ‘Blue of Noon’ by Georges Bataille I feel it should be on the list. There was a certain level of observation in this book, extremity that caught something I couldn’t express but understood, particularly in his descriptions of a character named Lazare, a political activist.
What advice would you give to artists who are just starting out?
Apply to art school. Don’t aim for top marks or recognition from tutors. Leave the UK sometimes.
Is there anything else you would like people to know about your work or your experiences as an artist?
I’ve been very inspired by photography lately, I’ve began using photography to capture moments within my day to day life as a kind of visual diary.
See Alexandra’s work at our Summer Show, running at Six Foot Gallery until 6th July 2023.