Penny Alexander Flintshire, United Kingdom
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I am a very deliberate artist. I enjoy order and clarity. I love scientific approaches and enjoying the obsolete. I'm fascinated with language, history and social science. My work epitomizes all these interests. I work to briefs, commissioned or self-imposed. My work is adaptable provided I am interested in the content. I'm a problem-solver and hope to think my work is distinctive & unique.

Conceptual artist working in themes relating to time and personal experience. Other themes include journeys, health and well-being and perspectives of personal experience. I work on a typewriter, frequently making conceptual artist books. My style is scientific, graphic, neat and research/fact based. Recent inspirations include motherhood, alterations in mental health, ageing, self acceptance and themes relating to celebrating and promoting positive body image.

I am very interested in personal perception, and using optical illusions and language play to form conceptual narratives.

Artwork

Mind Maps

Medium: Typewriter. Water colour paper.

After suffering with Post Natal Depression, Penny Alexander found her creative passion via the medium of typewriter art. Having already worked extensively on artist books during her degree, she used this skill to put together a conceptual book. The book contains a series of 12 hand typed maps, each sitting alongside duplicate "keys" which have varying responses as a result of the particular environment in question; the experiences there, her private life and her general mental health state. The works are all drawn on a typewriter, formed by delicate lines of black full stops. Post Natal Depression, albeit a fairly common condition (affecting as many as 20% of mothers), was a difficult condition for the artist to deal with given that she was a care-free art student moving around the Greater Manchester urban environment in an overall happy mental state. In the midst of her illness, paranoia and fear of persecution and resulted in the condition being concealed from all whom surrounded her. Re-immersion in her practice proved to be the stimulus necessary in accepting her illness, thus allowing her to speak openly, accept her experiences, and move on. Initially upon returning to her typewriter, a lack of confidence limited the artist into only utilizing the "full stop" (.) character. Conceptually this pleased the artist since the full stop also stood for an "end". Mapping her life's addresses until her health issues, (then beyond) represented Penny embracing her experiences as a form of creative recovery. The book, albeit incredibly personal to the artist, is comparative to experiences many people can relate to: Birth, death, environmental factors outside of the front door and even mice infestations are telling indicators of a persons overall well-being. Penny makes mental health seem an everyday occurrence, which she hopes will help de-stigmatize mental health.

Details

CONCEPTION: the time of matter

Medium: Typewriter. Water colour paper.

1/1 Artist book: Written, illustrated and bound by Penny Alexander Illustrations and words hand typed on the typewriter. Inspired by her second pregnancy, conceptual artist and book-binder Penny Alexander decided to form an illustrative book celebrating the initial incredible moments which result in the formation of a human child. A play on words, the title "Conception: a time of matter" focuses in on the initial moments from the release of an egg right through the moments where the heart of the embryo first begins to beat. The book subtly finishes just where the heart cells spontaneously burst into life, beating in unison, there on out until demise. Her conceptual illustrative accompaniment to this incredible moment is a full stop character which is a metaphor for the end of the beginning, and is also, aplty, the exact same size of the primitive heart organ at that stage (the size of a poppy seed.) Manipulation of the typewriter has been done in a deliberate and confident manner- inspired by The Post-Partum Document (Mary Kelly 1976) the artist playing with the relashionship between the everyday, being shown in a simple yet stunning manner to celebrate conception, which although a miracle, is also greatly overlooked as an everyday event (by the fertile, at least). Playful use of the typewriter alongside scientific and symptomatic processes to describe each process, marry in a pleasingly objective presentational strategy; each illustration is paired up with a sort of "key" which explains the biological process at play- as well as a "timer" which runs like a ticking clock narrative from the moment of ejaculation. Dedicated to her first born child, and current child in-utero, the book is a gesture of gratitude and celebration to those greatly overlooked formative moments during those initial short days- when a woman is rarely aware of her condition. Much focus is on the latter stages of pregnancy, yet the timing and odds of these processes mentioned in the body of work, are those of massive odds and incredible natural processes- unseen, unfelt and a secret to all but our voiceless reproductive system.

Details

William Shakespeare's W Words: A Glossary

Medium: Typewriter. Water colour paper.

A hand typed and hand bound artists book inspired by works of Shakespeare; the book comprises a glossary of all words used by William beginning with the letter "w". Bound with minimal fuss using a wooden spine, white paper and complimentary red thread.

Penny is heavily inspired by words and their origins- so a typographical artists book encompassing words was an obvious and exciting prospect for the artist. Use of a typewriter and deliberate simplicity is Penny's signature style, and is adopted in this instance to allow the words their full potential to amuse and interest the viewer in an appreciative gesture at the writer's legacy in terms of language, comedic value and onomatopoeic content but is also notable for the inclusion of words which are no longer in contemporary use or words whose definition has altered over time.

Details

"distention of the mother" (and) "Floodgate A" (and) "Floodgate B"

Medium: Typewriter. Water colour paper.

Three original, hand typed images of the bodily marks manifested during pregnancy and post natal depression; The reflective and figurative significance of the style forms delicate, meandering conceptual pieces of graphic work aimed at questioning the lack of societal acceptance with physical and mental imperfections. The works are all drawn on a typewriter, formed by delicate lines of black full stops, in mounted frames.

Penny Alexander experienced mental health issues after an emergency Caesarean section with her child. Post Natal Depression, albeit a fairly common condition (affecting as many as 20% of mothers), was a difficult condition for the artist to deal with. Paranoia and fear of persecution and resulted in the condition being concealed from all whom surrounded her. Re-immersion in her practice proved to be the stimulus necessary in accepting her illness, thus allowing her to speak openly, accept her experiences, and move on.

Initially upon returning to her typewriter, a lack of confidence limited the artist into only utilizing the "full stop" (.) character. Conceptually this pleased the artist since the full stop also stood for an "end". She became increasingly interested in the scars of life's experiences that women wear privately upon or inside our bodies.

In laying bare literal scars she opened up a metaphorical narrative concerning the prejudices in current society; modern day values are very concerned with physical ideals of beauty. Appearing perfect- both in terms of physical appearance, and inner mental well-being has become a constant demand in day to day life; Pressures on women to conform to media standards of beauty are immense. In the most simplistic manner possible, Penny aims to celebrate the lines of her life in a way which confronts unhealthy attitudes towards female beauty, mental health, and body image.

"distention of the mother" depicts the artists abdominal stretch mark scars. "Floodgate A" and "Floodgate B" are linear typed forms of the artists wrinkles around her eyes. (The lower case in the word distention is deliberate!) The "Floodgate" pieces of work are intended in two regards: firstly at highlighting unsympathetic attitudes towards females in distress, and the lack of empathy the artist experienced during her time of low mood- and secondly at the ways women are frequently spoken about as having "let themselves go" once they become mothers. Penny Alexander hopes to inspire other women into accepting our past experiences (and the physical impacts these experiences leave us with) in using her life lines in as a positive form of creative healing.

Details
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PrintmakingIllustrationArtists’ booksArt writingText
Other keywords
IdentityFeminismMemoryDocumentary