In conversation with UK based collage and street artist Rachel Dixon.
Can you talk about your journey into or interest the arts?
My interest in art and creating things started early on. I was always making things and explored lots of different areas. I loved drawing cartoons of my teachers and some of these were used in a book about my school. When I was at university in Glasgow I bought a camera and started taking photos on the street. This became a bit of a passion which still remains with me. Glasgow at that time (1990) was full of amazing characters. I carried on making things too, mainly for specific people. I don’t know much about art history but I love visiting galleries and exhibitions – so that tends to be how I discover other artists and ideas. After starting a family, I had the opportunity to work with kids doing art based projects – and am still involved in one each summer. I love how kids see and create things.
Do you use a sketchbook? I’m interested in what a sketchbook means to you and your work?, or how people develop their ideas.
I don’t actually use a sketchbook and have always found researching ideas hard to do. I suppose I hold my sketchbook ideas in my head and imagine things until they come out and are created. Imagination plays a big part in what I do. I might be inspired by something I see or something that someone says or characters. So at the moment I like using things I find on the street to include in collages so these might be the starting point – like all the different types of cigarette packets there are.
Can you talk about the influences upon your work?
When my son was about 10, we got a book on Dada collage and then we started cutting up magazines and making collages – as silly as possible. He uses photoshop now, but I carried on with paper collages and that’s how the collage started. It’s probably become my favourite type of art – alongside street photography. I like using lots of different materials: spray paint, rubbish, stuff I find on the street, old comics and fashion magazines. I’ve also used food like ketchup, cream and baked beans. I’ve never really thought about my style of work but people tell me it’s quite surreal, humorous and sometimes sophisticated. Oh, and I like red lips.
What themes are you exploring through your work?
In terms of themes that I’m exploring, I don’t really know until I look at my Instagram feed and that makes me see that there might be a theme there that I wasn’t really aware of. As I said, I do like using objects that I find on the street. I did have a banana theme a few years ago where I wanted to make something that would make people curious and was a kind of removable graffiti for the streets. I did a few banana drops in Oxford and London (I spray painted real bananas, added my Instagram tag and a label saying ‘do not eat’) and lots of people who found them got in touch. But then someone stuck a banana to a wall with tape and I decided to give my bananas a rest for a while. Maybe they’ll reappear one day. I have recently started putting collages out on the street (a lockdown activity inspired by another collage artist on Instagram) which is great fun – making a piece of collage for a specific gate or lamp post.
Can you talk about your process of working. How do you work, how often, is there a particular pattern?
For my collage I work on a tray on the floor in the living room. Normally in the evenings. It’s very relaxing at the end of the day. Sometimes I have more ideas and then I work on a few pieces at once. And I always look through the weekend newspaper magazines for good images and ideas. Street photography depends on where I am and opportunity. Sometimes you get a great image, sometimes you just don’t. Sometimes I look around the streets without my camera just to think what could have been.
Do you find the process of creating work relaxing or therapeutic? I’ve become increasingly interested in the relationship of work to the artist, and how this enhances their lives.
Creating stuff is something I have always done. It is relaxing going off into imaginary worlds and making things up. I can’t imagine life without imagination.