Meet the makers: Kaylene Alder

Makerhoodie Kaylene describes herself as a “displaced/misplaced Canadian who has found a home in good ole Londontown”.  She lives in Brixton with her husband and two cats, Fury and Kafka, who were very keen to be part of this interview, as you can see from the photo!

kaylene-alder2Every month Kaylene provides an illustration for Brixton Bugle, based on an idea suggested by a reader, and her first solo exhibition “for some time” is about to open at Studio 73 in Brixton Village. Kaylene also illustrated the newly published Recipes from Brixton Village, written by Miss South, another Bugle contributor.

How did you get involved with the recipe book?

I got called by the publisher, who saw my stuff in the Bugle. Although Miss South also writes for the Bugle, I didn’t know her before this. We sat in the market and had a chat, took photos of the traders and chatted to everyone. They gave me a list of what they wanted, I did about 50 illustrations and just handed them over. So I didn’t see what the book looked like till it was published!

Have you tried any of the recipes yet?

I’m not yet convinced by African land snails! But I really like Asian food, so I’ll probably try the recipes from KaoSarn and Okan first.

Tell us about your exhibition.

The theme is “Ships in Small Water”. A friend suggested the idea, and it appealed to me because it’s a bit funny. I’ve done seven screen prints and it’s been a challenge! I’m still learning about screen printing, and I decided to do them on brown paper, which is thin, and it rolls up, it’s slippery, it moves around – it’s very fiddly! And they’re all three colours, so with seven prints that’s 21 layers! But I’m very happy with how they’ve come out.

So it’s been a very busy time for you.

Yes – because I work as an art teacher four days a week so I do the printing after work and at weekends. Recently, I’ve been illustrating educational materials for the South London Botanical Institute but have otherwise had a bit of time to think about new work and this exhibition which has been great.

Recipes from Brixton Village is available at Brixton Village, good local booksellers and direct from Kitchen Press, price £15.99.

“Ships in Small Water” is at Studio 73, Brixton Village, from 19 to 28 May.

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Meet the makers: Anna Jackson

Anna Jackson of  Black Cactus London describes the delights of living in south London and producing one-off printed bags and purses

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1.  Tell us how you got started in printing.
I did a fine arts degree in printmaking and sculpture at university in Australia – and always preferred printmaking to sculpture. Then I went travelling to Japan, came to the UK in 2000 and got very frustrated doing office work as a project analyst. So I did another printmaking course at Central St Martins, which reminded me how much I loved printmaking and helped me to realise that I wanted printmaking back in my life!

2. So you prefer printing on fabric to paper?
Printing on fabric is more versatile. You can frame a paper print, but with fabric it’s more flexible – you can make other things from it. They have to be small things like bags, because I work on small-scale pieces – I don’t have the facilities to produce large pieces of fabric with repeat patterns. I use real leaves in my prints, so every piece is different and unique. I love printing the fabrics – I’m less keen on making up the bags. It would be great to pair up with a seamstress!

3.  As well as selling through Makerhood you’re stocked by independent retailers.
Yes – I have an Etsy shop and I also sell my bags through Diverse Gifts in Brixton and Lovely and British in Bermondsey Street. I’m not interested in John Lewis – I prefer independent retailers. I want to get to the point where people like my stuff enough to commission one-off pieces, so I keep experimenting rather than just becoming a production line. For me it’s about wanting to do it – otherwise there’s a danger it just becomes a chore.

4. Have you always lived in south London since coming to the UK?
No – I used to live in Hackney, but then I moved to the Camberwell/Brixton borders about four years ago. I wasn’t sure about being south of the river at first, but I like it now! It’s spikier than Hackney – people watching here is so much better. I wouldn’t move back!

5. So can you share some of your favourite places in the area where you live?
There are events like the Chelsea Fringe Festival, where a garden designer has created a secret garden in the yard behind our studio block in Vanguard Court. I also like the Hermit’s Cave pub,  a real hole in the wall place with stuffed weasels – no gastropub nonsense here! And there’s a new farmer’s market with a great berry stall, and the Camberwell Arts Festival (15-23 June 2013).

6. And why did you join Makerhood?
I heard about Makerhood through picking up a flyer in Burgess Park and thought why not? It’s provided useful relevant local information that’s hard to come by elsewhere. I’ve made some online sales, met other makers and got stocked in Diverse through Makerhood.

You can see Anna’s stylish, versatile bags at http://brixton.makerhood.com/black-cactus-london