The Garden Edit stumbled across Alicia’s work a year ago. Since then our obsession with her beautifully constructed plant drawings has continued to grow. Her love of gardens combined with her expressive technique means she is the perfect maker for The Garden Edit.
So when did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
From a young age I always had an interest in the arts, but it wasn’t necessarily clear that it would be more than just an interest when I was at school. I studied Fine Art, but at the time it didn’t seem like it was the ‘correct’ path… it was a very academic school! I had been accepted to study linguistics and phonetics at university but a couple of months before taking my final exams I decided to apply to an Art Foundation course. I had such a great year there and never looked back. The tutors there were so encouraging and that gave me the drive to pursue a future in drawing.
How did you come to studying textile design?
I went on to study Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern at Leeds College of Art. Before my foundation year I had not considered this a possibility but when I learnt that it was so drawing focused it just seemed to fit.
Are there any textile designers or artists that inspire you?
For the past four years I have had a consistent selection of artists that I look to for inspiration. I adore the work of the lovely French artist Rosemarie Auberson. Her compositions and colours are so sensitive and beautiful. I bought her book last year, but I would love to have one on my wall! I am always drawn to the paintings and collages of Matisse. I have also gained a strong interest in the work of Hockney in the past year, after visiting Salts Mill in Saltaire just outside of Leeds. There is a massive collection of his works there, which really shows his versatility. I really need to get to the Printmaker exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery! The London based illustrator Lizzy Stewart has gorgeous drawings too. I often look to product design and graphic design for inspiration, for composition and colours. The Bonbon Lamps by Ana Kras really inspired me last year with the way she combines colours. Milleneufcentquatrevingtquatre are another inspiration source from France. They design and print really cool plant inspired scarves.
So I am keen to know why you are so drawn to plants and gardens?
My old family home had such a lovely garden, which I loved looking after with my Mum. We also lived a five-minute walk away from a massive wood, which was so good to escape into. For the past four years however, I lived in places without a proper garden of my own. It’s definitely led me to seek out and explore public gardens and planty spaces and fill whatever excess space I have with indoor plants and the odd plant inspired drawing.
When I first saw your work I thought you had such a beautiful drawing technique. What steps do you go through to make your artworks?
I work in a very instinctive manner to be honest; I find it difficult to force. When I see something I like that I have captured with my camera or can see I normally start off with a simple drawing, sometimes just in pencil but it varies really on what I feel like and see fit. I will then draw from that original drawing, drawing out the interesting marks that I have initially made, and abstracting the original image, creating a more pattern like and textural outcome. I sometimes combine many different drawings together to create a final piece.
I have this vision that your studio is like a greenhouse. Can you tell us about your workspace?
To be honest I don’t really have a workspace. My flat is rather small, so I work on an easel in my room with all my materials spread across the floor. I have been working at a textile design studio in recent months so have not had much time to do my own work. I had a lovely desk space at Art College, my wall was covered in drawings, my photos and blocks of colours and textures, which I would rearrange to draw from and create fantasy plant spaces. My bedroom there was great for working in too, I had a massive window and the sky always looked beautiful. I would sometimes have rolls of paper on the wall and gradually add different plants to the space I was drawing. It was a good space to stand back, think and evaluate what I was doing. I had lots of hyacinth vases and potted plants and a beautiful print of the Copenhagen Botanical Gardens.
Some of the pieces showcased in The Garden Edit feature locations like Kew Gardens and the Barbican; or just individual plants. How do you decide what to draw?
The Barbican and Kew are places I just love to be in. There’s nothing like escaping bad weather and heading into the tropics but still seeing the reality outside through glass walls. In terms of plants I tend to capture different ones that seem to fit well together but aren’t too similar. I place pictures around me then draw what feels right with what materials I have in front of me. I create my own plant compositions, extracting from my original drawings and photos.
Finally, any locations you would like to use for future work?
I recently visited Glasgow for the first time and went to the Botanical Gardens, which were stunning, despite the drizzle. I am planning on working from the imagery I collected there. I am now living in Lower Clapton in Hackney, London; I really would like to do some more work inspired by where I live and work.