Welcome to The Makers. Each month, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans, and crafters of all stripes, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces to find out exactly how the magic happens. For this instalment, we headed over to the Newtown home of Alexandria Park, a self-taught artist, buyer for a premium Australian fashion label, and the founder of AJP Studio, an atelier that specialises in producing commission-based works. The deceptively roomy apartment is styled in a tonal palette of natural wood, cream and beige with pops of pale blue, yellow and orange courtesy of Park’s own artworks. Park shares the space with her partner Jono, who shares her restraint when it comes to styling. Keep reading for our Q&A.
Alexandria Park is all about a neutral colour scheme. On the day we turn up to photograph her in her space, she’s decked out in white jeans, barely-there sandals and a caramel-toned top—an outfit which, as it turns out, is a perfect sartorial mirror to her refined home aesthetic. It makes sense that Park should have an eye for sourcing classic-yet-interesting pieces—the fashion buyer has founded a full-time career on it. She’s also built her own business around the same ethos, setting up AJP Studio in 2018 to produce unique artworks for a loyal clientele. As you’d expect, Park’s artistic style is classic, with a nostalgic flair. She’s experimental but restrained, striking the perfect balance between timeless and modern. Her client base has grown quickly, fueled by a curated Instagram page and Alex’s own desire to design meaningful works for those who commission her. We sat down together to chat about the first purchase she made for her new home (see: these ’50s-inspired armchairs), why work doesn’t belong in the bedroom, and what creating for others means to her.
Bed Threads: Hi Alex! This series is called “The Makers”, what is it you make?
Alex Park: I am a maker of visual works across various mediums, oftentimes originating from personal inspiration or appropriating from the memories of others. Nostalgia is a big theme in my artwork and I find memory carries important emotional significance. Memory can transcend time and place and I love the idea that a single piece of art hanging in one’s home has the power to transport the viewer emotionally.
BT: How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
AP: I have always been a creative at heart and I really enjoy painting as an outlet. Being an Aquarius, I am drawn to originality and I strive for this in each and every work.
BT: How would you describe what you do for a living?
AP: I work full time in buying for an Australian fashion brand. Not only does this fulfil a personal passion, but it also stimulates my creativity. It’s an opportunity to be constantly inspired by beautiful clothes and intricacies in design, all of which certainly impact my aesthetic and visual expression. Painting, on the other hand, I could never deem as ‘work’ in the traditional sense. For me, it represents a personal journey; it’s my constant motivation and a pastime that undoubtedly nurtures my soul. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to make a living from both avenues.
BT: What’s something we don’t know about you?
AP: As a part of my job, I am regularly working with numbers and spreadsheets. It’s a little peculiar, but I am a bit of an Excel nerd.
BT: Now the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
AP: We’ve just moved in so we have only been there for a little over six weeks. We are still in the process of furnishing the space, however, I’m super proud of what we have achieved with the home so far!
BT: How did you initially know this was the space for you?
AP: I think what really won us over was the beautiful big porch that you see as soon as you walk in. We instantly pictured ourselves entertaining friends with long lunches during the warmer months, and I could especially see myself setting up a spot to paint each day. We first saw the space around dusk and the light at that very moment was spectacular. It really resonated with me and we both knew it was right. The place evokes a sense of solace and stillness, it’s very much a sanctuary.
BT: Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
AP: it’s still early days, so no there are no plans for renovations in the foreseeable future. We have completely furnished the place from scratch and everything within the space has been sourced from boutique showrooms and antique wholesalers. It’s been an exciting yet somewhat expensive experience, but in saying that I have absolutely enjoyed every moment.
BT: How would you describe your home in a sentence?
AP: Sophisticated simplicity with a contemporary edge.
BT: How does your home reflect you as a person?
AP: Everything in our home has been carefully considered and curated, creating a sense of harmony within the space. It’s important to me that my home feels lived in, but by the same token I crave order—it plays to my perfectionist side. I also try not to let my style be too influenced by trends. I like to maintain this value across all parts of my life.
BT: What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
AP: There’s definitely a consistent theme across the styling within our home. We always knew the aesthetic we wanted to achieve; minimal, clean and modern with a traditional twist. Ultimately, I wanted to ensure my artworks complemented the space and in the same regard, I wanted the space to perfectly frame the art. The space doubles as a personal showroom and the neutral colour palette and tonal hues serve this purpose beautifully. Our home evokes a sense of serenity, not dissimilar to an art gallery.
BT: What are your favourite pieces in your home?
AP: I treasure my Pierre Jeanneret-style chairs from McMullin&co. They were one of our first purchases and they really set that mid-century style tone. We are regularly complimented on our glass coffee table, which I actually sourced from Gumtree. It’s important to cast a wide net when furnishing your home and I love how this piece doesn’t overpower the space. Our dining table which we found at an antique store, is also a personal favourite. The beautiful patterned detailing is an artwork in its own right and there’s a sense of rawness to it, which adds a new dimension to the home.
BT: Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
AP: I’ve got my eye on some bedside lamps from The Vault. They have a French mid-century style that ties in nicely with the existing theme of the house.
BT: Which is your favourite room in the house and why?
AP: The lounge is definitely my favourite with its beautiful natural lighting. It has quickly become our spot to relax in. We like to soak in the sunlight whilst reading, catching up on emails or watching some sneaky Netflix from time to time. It’s hard to get up from the couch once we’ve settled in.
BT: Tell us about your bedroom, what do you do in there aside from, um, the obvious?
AP: Our bedroom is a place for self-preservation and relaxation. I try not to take work and stress into this environment. It’s important to me that I use the space to recharge and reflect. I love our rattan bedhead because it reminds me of being on vacation and that provides a great sense of escapism whilst relaxing in bed.
BT: What does getting a good night’s sleep mean to you?
AP: It’s sometimes hard to completely clock-off for a good night’s sleep, especially lately with my never-ending list of things to do. I am thankful to be constantly inspired and motivated by new projects, but I also appreciate that we all need time to unwind and destress. I think the best feeling is getting into bed after a super productive and eventful day.
BT: What is your favourite local hotspot?
AP: Our favourite thing is walking over to Bourke Street Bakery to grab a coffee and one of their epic pastries—it’s become our new Sunday morning routine.
BT: Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
AP: I’m currently working on a series of prints that will be exclusively available at McMullin&co. It’s a super exciting project and I am humbled to have my art aligned with products of such beautiful quality. I will also have a series of my own prints available to purchase through my site. It’s such a privilege and pleasure to offer the opportunity to purchase my art in real time.
BT: Tell us about AJP Studio—what was the catalyst behind launching it and how has it been juggling your own business alongside a day job?
AP: AJP Studio is an extension of who I am, creatively, personally and professionally. I wanted to create something to unify my works and communicate my individuality. It’s intimidating putting myself out there but the response has been amazing and it’s exciting and incredibly humbling to see it grow. It’s been a learning process and I am still trying to maintain both commitments. It’s not easy but I am lucky to have both ventures and I remind myself of this regularly. Personal reflection and finding time for myself have been an important part of this process, they keep me centred and on track with my goals.
BT: Have you always been an artist?
AP: Always. I went through our old family photo albums recently and I stumbled across a few photos of myself with my younger sister painting in the backyard. Yesterday’s newspaper was our canvas and mum would proudly hang our finished works across the fence for everyone to see.
BT: What’s the best thing that’s happened since you started AJP Studio?
AP: I have been introduced to plenty of interesting new people through AJP Studio and this has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve met so many inspiring and beautiful people whilst working on projects and it’s been amazing to realise their memories or dreams through my art. It’s so important for me to build a relationship with my clients. I love hearing their stories, whether it is a commissioned piece for an anniversary gift, birthday, wedding or just for their home. I’m very lucky that they trust in me to produce something that means so much to them.
BT: You mentioned how supportive your partner is of your ambition for your business, how important is it to have a person in your life supporting you to create?
AP: It’s unbelievably important and I couldn’t be more lucky to have someone that supports my ambitions across work, art and personal life. I am indebted to him for his support, especially being an artist I definitely have moments of deflation, exacerbated by creative blocks. I am regularly in need of support and he is a constant source of inspiration and motivation. I think the key to being your best self lies in the support network you surround yourself with.