Annie Paxton had just graduated from a Master of Architecture when Australia headed into lockdown in 2020. She found herself with free time and excess energy, inspiring the creation of her own art practice, Annie Paxton Studio.
‘I think I had a lot of residual creative energy at that time,’ explains Annie. ‘When you finish something so intensive as an architecture degree, then find yourself in a lockdown with lots of spare time and lots of ideas whirling, you kind of need to direct that energy somewhere. That’s when I started playing with ideas and forms and materials.’
Annie produces sculptural works made from fabric (silk and recycled materials) and metal (aluminium, steel, chain mail) that navigate the juncture between architecture and furniture. Some pieces are functional lights, while others are entirely decorative.
‘I suppose I have always been a bit enthralled by fabric… I found a stash of silk fabric scraps laying around on a bleak lockdown day and started to sculpt with them, layering them in freehand forms,’ says Annie.
‘I loved the idea of building something robust out of something so fragile. Combining that with metal came a bit later when I wanted to then play with merging that kind of suspended fragility I was sculpting with something solid and structural.’
The creative process of Annie’s work is guided by her formal architectural training. Following an initial sketch, the artist gets ‘tied down, or grounded, with the pragmatics of making, and working out precise dimensions in technical drawings.
The initial assembly, silk threading, sculpting happens in Annie’s Melbourne apartment, followed by metalwork at her partner Old Four Legs’ workshop in Brunswick. Inspiration is drawn everywhere from surrealist artist Kay Sage, to modernist sculptors, Noguchi, and the haute couture collection of Glenn Martens for Jean Paul Gaultier.
In her work, Annie says she is constantly investigating some sort of threshold, whether that be material, spatial, or just a physical junction. ‘The tension, the fixings; the way they blend or bend. That liminal space, or liminal tension is something that really interests me.’