I’ve really enjoyed looking at the work of Alexandra Blum online, particularly the series Boundaries 2014 and Tower Blocks Have Sunsets Too, 2012. It was hard to choose which to focus on. Would love to see them in person one day.
Dalston Hut, 2012, Alexandra Blum
I love these paintings on so many levels and for so many reasons, many are probably based in pure nostalgia. The view from above – do rooftops ever lose their magic? That whole other world, maybe implanted by early exposure to Mary Poppins and Oliver, and cemented by those first flatshares. Freedom from familial suburbia and the wonder of all that roof-tiled freedom where every windowsill and piece of asphalt that could be reached was a wonder. A place to sit and marvel at the space we could call our own. A place to drink, to smoke, to tan.
Unmistakably London, the finding of space to exist in – by building, by plant, by cat, dog, human.
Tower, 2012, Alexandra Blum
Haunting and intriguing, what is going on with these buildings. Have they been obliterated, are they due for destruction? Has someone in town planning got handy with the Tippex. They remind me of the ghostly blank the Doctor Who’s tardis leaves behind as he vanishes on another turn around the universe. Have these buildings temporarily disappeared from our view, touring the universe? Are they being heated by an angelic white light from within? How did they come to exist in that space, what would happen if they left.
I enjoyed these paintings together – the way some have large swathes of negative space and others just touches, the odd side of a building, a tree, a window frame. It gives a feeling of moving across the city – the weather changes, the neighbourhood changes, space and how we use it changes.
Continuum, 2014, Alexandra Blum
This picture has so much to love: the access to the rooftop, to that little piece of private space, that contrast of detail in the background but a blank in foreground. The sophisticated drawing of the far building and trees and the naive bricks to the left. Clouds moving at speed, the sense of that light you get just before and just after a thunderstorm. The childlike sun in the corner. Near trees that have become space. That strange slant of nothingness to the far left. I love the closeness and the distant view. The curve of the world that shrinks the city.
Exit, 2014, Alexandra Blum
This has everything of the previous work but a stronger sense of the city shrinking and being part of something greater. The city remains a city but it’s tiny. There’s a bigger world out there, not just geographically but a world where we have been and where we will be – our history, our future. What did these buildings replace, what will replace them. There’s that sense of time passing in the ambiguity of the skies. Planes jetting across the city queuing up to land or shuffling in to position to get out of crowded airspace. One day will those planes be full of people leaving this planet that has no space left? But it also speaks of past occupation of the skies, of war with its smoke and flashes – that time when to live in a city in Europe was to have the sky hold your life in its hands – when a house that was standing in the morning could be gone by tea-time.