I had the pleasure of sitting with accessories designer Alexandra Anson recently to discuss her emerging label Alexandra Blak. She is just gorgeous and has an innate sense of aesthetic and style, nurtured and developed over years of experimentation and self-learning.
Alexandra’s work crosses genres, some of it hard edged and futuristic, other pieces classic and tactile. I spent some time talking with Alexandra about her life, her work and her new direction.
The lovely Alexandra Anson, I want her neckpiece!
Alexandra Blak clear lucite cuff
What path led you to starting Alexandra Blak?
I like to think of my work as wearable art. I’ve been making pieces since I was twelve. My dad was an antiques dealer and he would have boxes and boxes of stuff lying around that I would use. I began to use pieces of furniture like latches and handles that developed into an obsession with saddlery gear, so I would buy accessories from the saddlery and off I’d go to make something!
When I was a little girl I would sit in the driveway and thread seedpods onto fabric. We had to go to church and Mum would say “you’re not wearing that are you”. I would wear it anyway! People would tell me to take them off cause they were dirty.
I’ve got a thing for architecture and studied interior design but felt very frustrated. I worked for an architect but was bored just choosing chairs, it didn’t feel creative enough. I also had a clothing store for seven years called Page One. It was like a curatorship. I would change the whole space every three months. A customer could walk in one day and the whole thing could be black – ceiling, floors, everything.
My interests have evolved into accessories, I’m not afraid to do what I want to do anymore. I’m no longer afraid of what my mind wants to create.
Alexandra Blak rope neckpiece
Have you had any formal training?
No but I read a lot. If I see something and I want to make it, I teach myself how, through trial and error. I taught myself to silversmith so I could make the silver bangles. I like them because they are strong and plain. I feel my work translates across age brackets.
Does your creativity manifest itself in other mediums?
I make a lot of installation art for my home and have sold a few pieces. Big canvasses, bold and graphic. I love anything sculptural, tactile, three-dimensional. I like a piece that makes you ask ‘what is it, I don’t know what it is?’.
Where do you turn for inspiration?
I love going to the gardens, plants and nature. I draw so much from nature particularly colour. I reward my soul with art and love a solo trip to the NGV
when I can.
Abstract art is interesting to me because it’s so open to interpretation. I recently saw the Dali exhibitionand loved hearing about his life and how he met his wife. I love knowing about people and the way they think to produce the work they do. I have to know the story behind them. The Royal Heart was my favourite piece, amazing! I didn’t know it was going to be so intense.
The city on a Sunday is also inspirational for me and I enjoy spending the day at the City Library
I notice you are stocked at Alice Euphemia. Do you have other stockists in Melbourne?
That’s what I am trying to work on. I’m excited because I have recently appeared in Vogue and Grazia, which should help get my work out there.
I love what I am doing now more than anything I have done. I was more commercial back then, I was doing it for the money. But then I would make things for me in my own time. I came to a crossroad – if I did it to sell I wouldn’t wear it but if I did it for me, then people would buy it off my body.
Your own sense of style is quite striking.
(Alexandra is wearing all black and an amazing yellow, knotted leather neckpiece).
I admire those Italian women with the short, cropped hair with layers and layers of silver on. And I love skin, it’s the best canvas but it’s too obvious. Showing skin is not thought provoking by any means.
What does the picture look like in twelve months time?
I would love to get more stockists then I would like someone to have a crack at me, put some money behind me and take me for a little ride. If it doesn’t pay off in two years or so that’s fine. Oh and I’d love a flagship store, who wouldn’t!
What do you love most about your work?
I love that all my materials are Australian made. My silver is from Western Australia, the leather is kangaroo, and my rope is especially woven for me.
Everything I do is hand sculpted. The lucite starts off in a block that I drill and shape. I just worked out how to do it myself by buying a sander and experimenting. Resin becomes so organic in shape and loses that edge so I like the way I can give the lucite a definite edge. It takes on the features of a diamond through the facets.
View the Alexandra Blak range on her website
or call into Alice Euphemia
at Shop 6, Cathedral Arcade (cnr Flinders Lane) 37 Swanston Street, Melbourne.