Alexandra Abraham sees the beauty in things others have discarded. She collects them, she arranges them, she covers them in gold leaf and then rubs it away, and in doing so reveals the beauty she first spied in the mud or the sand, so that we can see it too.
She very kindly invited me to her studio in a former sweet factory (where Sherbet Dips were once made) in Wood Green to see some of this process and the space in which it all happens.
A collector of things since childhood, Alexandra was only inspired to start using them in her artwork when she did a mosaic course. She found traditional mosaic too structured and enjoys the freedom of using things she has collected and found – and is increasingly given by friends, family and fans.
Alexandra’s studio is one of many within ‘The Chocolate Factory‘. Its high ceilings and huge windows, flooding it with natural light, make it the ideal space in which to create.
The markings on the floor show where the sweetie-making machines once stood. Other artists in The Chocolate Factory range from bookbinders to musicians and from graphic designers to sculptors. Alexandra enjoys being part of a creative community, but also relishes her own space and the privacy her studio offers.
A room of one’s own, I think, is terribly important for any creative person, and Alexandra’s is littered with inspirational objects, which make it very much her own space.
Alexandra’s collection includes “Joan’s bling’ left by a neighbour’s mother whose taste in costume jewellery wasn’t passed down to anyone else in the family, a three generational button box, and things she collects from the Thames at low tide.
Alexandra uses every item as she finds it, never cutting or shaping, and is careful to return anything she can’t use to where she found it. As she gently turns her finds in her hands, you get a real sense of her deference and respect for their history – and she can tell you the story of every one. In these days of excess consumerism and ever-expanding landfill sites, it’s somehow comforting to see these discarded items given new life and new meaning.
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