In conversation with Brazilian born artist Alison Headley, who now lives and works in the UK.
Can you talk about your journey into or interest the arts?
Art has always been in my life. Since I can remember I loved drawing… unusual considering my family were not artistic or at all creative. I think I was a bit of an oddity for my parents and as I grew up and showed no signs of wanting to give up art they struggled to see how I was ever going to make a secure living out of it. Perhaps that’s why I eventually became an English language teacher, but I still continued to create and take art courses when I could find time. Fast forward far too many years and I have finally become a full time artist.
Do you use a sketchbook? I’m interested in what a sketchbook means to you and your work?, or how people develop their ideas.
Sketchbooks have always been an integral part of my creative process. I use them mostly to sketch ideas that come to me at that moment so I make sure I have one handy, it’s also used as a scrapbook to stash anything and everything that sparks some sort of inspiration in me. I have collected quite a number of sketchbooks over the years and I wonder what to do with them all… occasionally I might look through an old one and a long lost idea is once again renewed, which is great if I’m suffering a block. But since starting printmaking I’m finding that my ideas get drawn straight onto tracing paper as I love superimposing images on top of each other to see what unexpected possibilities might appear. So now sketchbooks have turned into tracing pads.
You do a lot of printmaking, what is it about that process you enjoy so much?
I can’t really put my finger on the reasons why I’m so completely drawn to printmaking, especially lino. It encompasses so many diverse elements, the initial drawing and design, the physical part of carving into a block of Lino which is wonderfully satisfying. Mixing the inks and the endless combinations of translucent layers you can achieve. Then there’s that final moment you reveal the printed piece, the anticipation of seeing your finished image and was all that hard work worth it. The relief and surprise that it all came good at the end seems to be all the more satisfying.
What themes are you exploring through your work?
My main recurring themes are pattern, the female and architecture. Colour, form and composition are also very important to me and I need to find balance in all my images. I think my work sits between the cracks of is it art or illustration and I’ve given up trying to define my style, it’s unusual like me.
Can you talk about your process of working. How do you work, how often, is there a particular pattern?
I used to work everyday from morning until 3 or 4, and many evenings. That was before lockdown came along and parents were all forced to enter into the COVID-19 world of homeschooling. The long hours of uninterrupted creativity everyday have come to a crashing halt as I try not to tear my hair out whilst explaining fractions to a nine year old. I hadn’t realised how lucky I was in my own little art zone, now I’m constantly having to flit from one world to the other in fits and starts and it’s a real challenge!
I’ve had lots of jobs in my life and every one of them I’ve felt like I didn’t fit in. Now that I allowed myself to do art full time I finally feel that I fit. I feel completely at ease and authentic. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else so yes I suppose in that sense it is relaxing and therapeutic.