Firstly, I need to thank my studio mate Belinda for introducing me to Alex. I fell in love with her artwork straight away and was very grateful for a chance to visit Alex at her home in Bronte. Receiving an email from Alex, containing her thoughtful responses to my questions at a later date made my day and I am really excited to be sharing them with you. I think her work is really unique.
I get the impression that you almost never stop making, bringing some of the work in progress with you wherever you go, even on the bus. Is it something that comes naturally to you? Has it always been like that for you? Do you ever find yourself tired or wanting to take a break?
I guess it’s ambition? Which I didn’t think I had until recently. You need to be slightly obsessed to be an artist I think, otherwise why would you do it? I have always loved to make things, but lately I have been making every day. I’m curious to see what happens next, to find out what I have the capacity to do. I feel I’m at the very beginning of my practice, finding out what I want to say, and how I want to say it. I do get tired, but making isn’t what tires me, it sustains me. I have a very broad definition of making that encompasses drawing, writing, stitching, reading, painting, collecting, arranging, picture taking and drinking a lot of tea… I switch and swap between all of these and sometimes use one to avoid another, they are all important parts of my practice.
Where do you start with some of the pieces? How do you decide when something is finished?
I often start with a previous experiment, or the pieces of another artwork that I wasn’t quite happy with. Reusing bits and pieces is practical in my small flat but also sets up the challenge of working with what you have. Great satisfaction can come from transforming an overlooked material or discarded object into something new – it makes life interesting to think of objects in this way…so much potential.
There is so much joy and sweetness in your work. What do you think about when making?
I value intuitive making, exploring, not predicting the outcome…
I like to use unexpected materials to question what we value. I am interested in the happiness that can occur when we take a second look, the kind of beauty and joy that comes from sitting with the less than perfect.
It’s so easy to get distracted or disenchanted or anxious – art making is a discipline that keeps me sane and reminds me to experiment, to play and to appreciate what is around me. I use my work to focus on all the loveliness around. It does us good to spend time immersed in beauty, to be reminded of joy.
Who are some of your favourite artists or perhaps some other people that influence you?
I am most influenced by writers. I am a big fan of Mike Mills, I often read his illustrated book The History of Sadness and I adore the poetry of John Keats in particular Ode to a Nightingale. I appreciate Maira Kalman’s honest musings and sketches and enjoy Anais Nin’s embrace of intuition and femininity. I adore Alain de Botton’s tongue in cheek take on philosophy and his views on the comforting and therapeutic qualities of the arts. Jeanette Winterson is another favourite for her no-nonsense language, passion and storytelling bravery. Woody Allen is also an influence – I love that he managed to turn his anxiety into a career.
To find out more about Alex’s work: http://www.alexfalkiner.com/