Alexandra G.: Visual Artist
Alexandra G.: I am delighted thank you for asking me.
Jessica Gilbert: Firstly, I know that you got your start as an artist doing commissioned art work. Then you went on to producing original clothing, and working in professional musical theatre as a set and costume designer. What inspired you to get into art and design? And what was the very first piece of artwork you were commissioned to do?
Alexandra G.: My first piece of commissioned artwork was when I was in my early twenties. It was for a doctor wishing to have his portrait painted He paid me £7.50 🙂 I have always been passionate about creating something, either in the form of a piece of art – or an original garment. To me fashion is art on a body, and I love working with fabric. I often would combine the two by actually painting on the clothing.
Jessica Gilbert: Where do you draw the inspiration for your paintings? And what are your favorite subjects to paint?
Alexandra G.: Being a figurative artist, much of my inspiration for painting comes from the fashion world – not only the beauty of the models; both male and female, but the striking poses, creative sets and clever use of lighting. I love and often use some of the photo shoots that my daughter takes because she has the ability to ‘think outside the box’ and is really original.
Jessica Gilbert: What is your process for creating a piece of work?
Alexandra G.: I start by marking out the canvas in the form of a ‘loose’ line sketch – often also painting a very subtle grid to ensure I get the right balance. I use a medium sized round brush and thinned oil paint in either an ochre or sienna (a colour that can easily paint ‘out’). Then basically just ‘go for it’! That is the beauty of working in oils, it is so ‘forgiving’ – which is ‘artist speak’ for ‘can be reworked if necessary’ 😉 Then I start with the face, I like to see the beginnings of a person on my canvas.
Jessica Gilbert: Tell us about the work you do as a set and costume designer.
Alexandra G.: I no longer work in this field because I am too busy working on other projects, but at the time, an actor/ singer friend of mine introduced me to a professional musical theatre company in need of help. I ended up producing their artwork for posters and programmes – together with marking their costumes and sets….it was a case of ‘do you think you could….I know I can’! An amazing experience, and always exciting to see one’s name in the credits!
Jessica Gilbert: On your website, I see that you’re working with Mulberry Hawk on L’Inconnue – an experience in music and art. Tell us more about it and how this came about.
Alexandra G.: Over two years ago I was visiting Lesley and Denis, who are the founding members of Mulberry Hawk. Being brilliant singer/songwriters, it had been in their minds to write a musical but hadn’t as yet settled on a subject. Lesley happened to hear on the radio about L’Inconnue de la Seine or The Unknown Woman of the Seine – a beautiful girl drowned in the Seine in the late 1880’s. So beautiful was she in death, and smiling, that the pathologist created a ‘death mask’ of her face – which seventy years later became the CPR doll ‘resusci Annie.’ They had their subject – and I said ‘I could paint that!’ 🙂 So ‘The Legend of L’Inconnue’ was born, an experience in music and art accompanied by a ‘factual book’ and a novel. There will be fifteen paintings in all, to accompany as many songs, together telling an amazing and compelling story which combines fact and speculation.
Jessica Gilbert: You are also featured in a book called 100 Artists of the Male Figure by E. Gibbons. This is the first ever hard-cover book dedicated to living artists of the contemporary male figure in traditional media such as painting, drawing and sculpture. There are only six female artists and you’re the only artist representing the rest of the world. Sounds like a wonderful book! How did you become involved with this book? And how does it feel being the only international artist?
Alexandra G.: I was approached by E. Gibbons (the author) in February 2010 to see if I would be interested in submitting some of my artwork together with ‘blurb’ with a view participating in his book. Apparently, he spent many months trawling the internet and galleries for artists of the male figure of a suitable calibre. From the whole world, I didn’t think I stood a chance – nor did I take it too serious!! To actually be chosen was a thrill and honour – then to find out of the six female artists featured, five were in America – it is unbelievable and I feel proud and truly blessed to have had this opportunity.
Jessica Gilbert: I read that you will be taking part in an exhibition in Budapest, Hungary. What kind of exhibition will it be? And approximately how many artists will be taking part in it?
Alexandra G.: Twenty eight artists from Europe have been invited to submit a piece of art for the exhibition in Budapest. After the exhibition, the artist may retrieve their art or allow it to be auctioned off for charity. Mine will be auctioned, hopefully to raise some money.
Jessica Gilbert: Who are some visual artists you admire?
Alexandra G.: A real mixed ‘bag’ I’m afraid – Damien Hurst, Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol, plus most of the Pre-Raphaelities e.g. Rosetti, Klimpt…and in view of what I have previously said about fashion being ‘art on a body’ – I feel I must ‘throw in’ Vivien Westwood and the late, great, Alexander McQueen!
Jessica Gilbert: If you had the power to do something in the world today, what would it be and why?
Alexandra G.: Stop people destroying each other! We have an amazing planet, and as a species we are quite remarkable – we should all take a moment to appreciate that!
Jessica Gilbert: What is one of your favorite quotes (or lines) that inspires you?
Alexandra G.: “Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away!”
Jessica Gilbert: Anything else you’d like to share? And where can our readers find out more about you and your work?
Alexandra G.: Just to say that I admire talent in any form, it is a gift and a blessing – so we should use it – and above all, ‘share it’! At the moment ‘my life’ is on my website: www.alexandra-g.com.
Jessica Gilbert: Thank you again for doing this interview and wish you the best of luck with all you do in the future.
Alexandra G.: Darling, it has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much.