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