We wanted to make the ‘campest’ image that we could think of, so we a created a piece by pinning sequins into a sausage...it’s actually quite horrible putting pins into a sausage! British duo Alison Roberts and Antoni Burakowski are better known as the London-based fashion designers Antoni + Alison. They met 20 years ago at Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design and have worked together ever since.
Celebrated for their vivid ‘text piece’ T-shirts, such as Imagine the Best Best Thing Ever, I Can’t Relate to the 17th Century and Elvis is Lovely; their collections are now admired internationally. Regular fans of their work include Nicole Kidman and Noel Gallagher.
Their work has a British sense of humour with an appealing saucy seaside postcard sensibility. We’ve never played the game. We sit outside of fashion...fashion has a tendency to take itself too seriously, and laughter is the best way of breaking out of that pattern. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t serious about what we do - we are incredibly serious - but for us, laughter is a means to communication.
However successful their clothes and accessory designs may be, Roberts and Burakowski are primarily fine artists who have exhibited their photography in galleries, but continue to exhibit their work through their clothing. They have become famous for their photographic prints of recurring themes and symbols, such as magical images of sweet faced woodland creatures, cigarettes, potatoes and tin foil sculptures, which decorate their products.
Antoni + Alison’s work is heavily autobiographical and influenced by their everyday experiences. Their encounters, with a lost toy or a day trip, can form the inspiration for an image.
We visited the castle in Rochester and realised how difficult it was to relate to history, we came to the conclusion that in fact, what we do know historically is incorrect, how could it possibly be fully correct? We couldn’t relate to history and just simply wanted to sum things up. So, we pared history down to a real ignorance level, by depicting iconic figures, with no accurate knowledge.
For example, the only thing we know about Marie-Antoinette is that she was a French tart, so we decided to depict her in that way...she is two French fancies, which are ornate and frilly...we are just playing with these ideas of portraiture.
Their work is both in the collection of Prints and Drawings, and exists as a ‘Living Archive’ at The Victoria & Albert Museum, London.