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Spotlight: Alexandra Gallagher

interviewed by Zahra Hamdulay

Alexandra Gallagher
Alexandra Gallagher

Your artwork is visceral and borders on the fantastical. Do you draw inspiration from reality at all and in what ways?

The narratives I want to communicate in my work are inspired by reality and the reality of women. I want to turn something negative into something beautiful. to take power back, which I feel is empowering and cathartic.  I don’t want to put more misery or horror into the world, although there is always a place for that in the creative world–to open a dialogue is important. But for me, I feel it’s more powerful to take it and spin it into something else. To do this, I use a lot of symbology in a surrealist way within my work. Some viewers will look at my work and just see a beautiful image, others will see something deeper that speaks to them in a personal way. 

I love the recurring flowers, and the circle patterns the run through your work. What draws you to these elements?

Circles are neverending, and are used a lot, not only in symbology, but also mathematically in nature. They’re not harsh, there’s a softness but also a protectiveness about them. I also just love to work in circular format aesthetically.

Flowers have so much symbology, colour, and vibrancy. They’ve been used by artists since the beginning of time and it is nature, fragments of magic that beautify our surroundings. 

The Missing Slate’s Howl at the Moon Cover, illustrated by Alexandra Gallagher

Would you describe your artwork as feminist? if so, what do you hope to evoke in women that view your work?

I would say some of my work, but not all of it. I very much identify as a feminist (strongly!) and feminism is something I’m constantly learning about and reevaluating my ideas, as society and cultures change. My work is very much from a feminist point of view, but I hope that people can find it relatable and that it evokes a shared solidarity. I hope, also, that it can be empowering to them, too. To take something horrible or traumatic and say “Look it’s okay, here’s your strength back, here’s your power back, you’re not alone.”

Circles are never-ending … They’re not harsh, there’s a softness but also a protectiveness about them.

Can you tell us a little bit about your typical workday and the small things that keep you going? Where do you like to work best? Do you have a mug of coffee or a lucky pen? A cat that curls up on your lap while you work? How long do you spend on a piece?

My typical day starts with me half asleep, checking my messages and emails over a coffee. I know it’s probably really bad for me to start the day like that, but it gets me prepped. The dog is usually curled up with me, while I read, reply and make lists for the day. I make a list everyday of what I want to achieve, although it’s usually more than I can do in a day but I always think I can fit in more than is possible. Depending on the project, I then start working in my office at home (usually still not dressed) as I’m not leaving the house other than to walk the dog and run errands. I feel getting dressed is a waste of time that could be spent creating haha! I look like a mess most days if I’m honest. If I’m painting I’ve usually got my headphones on with my music loud and I like to just get in the zone. 

My days though are usually very bitty, as I work on different things. I don’t get to paint and create all day as I’d like, unfortunately, as I also have to do admin, print wrapping and organisation of artwork to go out, social media and marketing, etc.,  and that’s every day. But it’s fun and no two days are the same.

What makes you feel fulfilled as an artist? Do you think an artist can ever feel fulfilled?

For me it’s the connection with other people. I love that! But creativity wise, I’m not sure. Creatively I want to do so much! It’s like I want to do everything and it can be so frustrating not being able to, due to lack of time or resources. I’m also someone who always wants to push what I do, to take it further, to learn something new. I don’t really think about what I’ve already done or achieved, I just think about what I want to do next. 

Overall though, I feel very fulfilled, privileged and lucky to be doing what I do and being able to live my life full of creativity. I sometimes can’t believe this is how I live my life, it’s very humbling.

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