Alexandria is a London-based artist working with the female nude as her main subject. Her work is simplistic but bold, using the technique of line drawing to capture the female form. Using mostly a stick of charcoal and white paper to portray her stylistic creations, her work is instantly recognisable. After graduating with a Master’s Degree from Central Saint Martins, Alexandria began work as an artist and has since worked with clients such as Whistles, Liberty and AnOther Magazine. Her work can be purchased via her own website and instagram as well as through Partnership Editions.
Working closely with Alexandria on our new candle, Garden of Venus, we visited her studio on a cold November morning to discuss the early stages of our collaboration candle.
Can you tell us a bit about your career path so far?
Like most career paths, mine hasn’t been very linear. I have a BA in Textile Design from Chelsea College of Arts and although it was enormous fun, by my last year I had lost patience with sewing machines and coloured dyes. I then went on to complete an MA at Central St Martins, which was both the best and worst time of my life. It felt like a reality show where only one person was going to win the prize at the finale, but despite the down sides, I would say it was the best education I could have possibly received. I studied Fashion Communication, specialising in stop frame animation, but the theory around women’s satirical dress and body performance was what really drew me in. A stack of feminist theory books and a lot of free time post-uni as well as my passion for drawing led me to what I’m doing now. I set up my Instagram page and not long after, it boomed. The buyer from Liberty got in touch and from then on I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing brands and businesses, and make a living out of what I love.
The female form is central to your artistic practice – what about it continues to drive your interest?
At Central St Martins, we were encouraged to go deep and seek what was personal to us. The body for me felt like a great place to explore. It has both personal resonance and a more wide spread meaning. Having a poor outlook on my own body and my female identity growing up meant that I felt like this was something I wanted to develop. I wanted to create images that were always a contradiction – a mix of sexual and non-sexual, of feminine and masculine, rough and finished, in an attempt to find a neutral outlook on the female body. Most importantly, what I strive for is an automatous body that chooses its own identity, rather than behaving by any social set rules of how female bodies should behave.
What did you most enjoy about the process of working on ‘Lover’s Embrace’, for Garden of Venus?
I started drawing couples throughout last year as a kind of natural way to make sense of a complicated relationship. These drawings ended up becoming one of my most popular subjects.
As we were working with a brief to create a product, I had to think of how it would sit on the curved glass of the candle as well as trying to create an image that was sensual but also easily read. It was also really important to me it didn’t look like a heterosexual couple. I wanted the bodies to feel neutral and the emphasis be focussed on how the bodies are linked together.
In what way do you feel that ‘Garden of Venus’ complements ‘Lovers Embrace’?
The fragrance is really sensual, floral as well as sweet and with a musky undertone. The candle changes as it burns and develops other notes – perhaps a good metaphor of a relationship.
What value does scent have at home and in your working environment?
It’s no secret that I have a candle addiction. I’m currently renting my own home for the first time and since I moved in, I have been through more candles than I would like to discuss. Scent is so important to me – it can calm you or give you energy. For me, the ritual of lighting a candle before settling down to work relaxes me most of all.
Valentine’s Day is now inescapable, with that in mind, what would be your perfect date?
Even if I’m with someone I kind of hate Valentine’s Day. I am so terribly romantic and tend to find the whole thing a little forced. A day of self-love and care sounds much better. Though on the romance front, if someone wanted to surprise me with a Valentine’s Day in mid-March, that would tick all the boxes for me.
Her Body & Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado.
I find it quite hard to concentrate on reading unless I am travelling, but short stories are perfect. These sets of stories are brilliant dark, feminist fantasies, each written in a completely unique way, touching on a part of womanhood.
How do you relax? Does your artistic practice play a role?
Yes and no. I am most relaxed and happiest when life drawing alone with a model. I switch off, I forget to drink, eat and keep track of the time. Although, because my work is mostly still work, I prefer switching off doing something completely opposed, which takes me out of the studio. I love exercise, but that could be anything from a run, a dance class or a long walk – it’s the only way I can really switch off.
Do your political or moral values play a role in your work and is there a place for sustainability in your practice?
Sustainability is very important to me, but I suppose my practice involves a lot of paper and charcoal, which is not sustainable. It is very important to me though that whom I work with has a strong sustainable outlook so I know I am complimenting a chain. For me, the political is the heart of my work. Though I do not aim to enforce any of my own feminist ideals on anyone (and do so with drawings that are completely open to interpretation), at the core of my work and mind is someone trying to express her own view on gender inequality and bodily judgement. Therefore I try to make sure any client I work for is also on board with this.
You can shop our Garden of Venus candle here.
Follow Alexandria on Instagram
Visit Alexandria’s website:
You can also join us for an evening of life drawing taught by Alexandria at The Conran Shop on Thursday the 6th February at 6.30pm.
Tickets are available to purchase here.