In Conversation with Brooke Holm
A huge thank you to artist Brooke Holm and all those who made it to the Modern Times Artist Talk on Saturday morning. Together with our generous sponsors Everyday Coffee we had a fantastic catch-up following on from the opening of Brooke’s breathtaking exhibition ‘Mineral Matter’. Enjoy reading our in-depth interview below to gain an interesting insight into Brooke’s inspirations, artistic practice and to find out what’s next for this internationally acclaimed artist.
Can you tell us what brought you to photography? How did that journey start?
I was pretty fortunate because I just fell into it by accident. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up so, like a lot of people, I just choose something to study after high school that sounded vaguely interesting and in a very round about way it led me to photography. Long story short, what started as an assistant job in an Advertising agency in Brisbane, quickly turned into a photography role, which led me to study photography. This led me to Melbourne where I felt there was more creative opportunity. After spending a number of years working freelance in Melbourne, I felt the pull from New York and now I live and work from there.
Your work is an extension of another passion of yours, that being nature and the environment. Can you tell us a bit about how this passion or curiosity developed in you?
I have loved nature since I was a child. I used to run free building forts and tree houses and pretending to be Tarzan swinging on ropes through the forest. I loved camping and hiking with my family, climbing trees and doing anything active and outdoorsy. So as I’ve grown up, this passion has only intensified, and it’s no surprise that nature and the environment take centre stage for my personal work. It’s where I feel at home, and where I want to focus my creative energy.
What kind of things have you uncovered about landscape or nature in the process of making your work? Have you had certain ideas or beliefs confirmed by the experience of your travels or have you uncovered the unexpected?
The best part about travelling is learning. You’re learning about an unfamiliar place, with new customs, culture, processes, landscapes etc. To broaden your own understanding of the world and how to make a difference, you have to experience different places. I have been fortunate to travel to many places and every single time I take home valuable information I have learned that I will keep with me forever.
Many times I have traveled somewhere that I had a particular idea about, but you can’t possibly know until you go what the intricacies are.
Take Svalbard for example, I knew the Arctic was affected by climate change at twice the rate of the rest of the world. But going there, and learning first-hand from scientists and specialists, and seeing this place with my own eyes blew my assumptions out of the water.
I was on the right track, but the extent of what I didn’t know, and still don’t know, was vast. Visually, you are always going to find the unexpected. Because how can you know, when you’ve never been. The Internet can only take you so far.
With this series, Mineral Matter you said you knew this journey to Iceland was important; can you tell us a bit about what first drew you to that landscape?
I knew that the landscape was particularly special because of the intense volcanoes, rivers, geothermal areas, mountains and glaciers and that it was visually very diverse. It is, so far, the most varied looking landscape in one country I have seen. Around every corner there was scenery unlike anything I had ever witnessed before. It was captivating, and heart wrenching and for a nature lover, it’s surreal. While I was drawn visually, I was also wondering how such an extreme place is even habitable and how that worked.
I’d love to know if you uncovered anything unexpected or confirmed anything that you suspected about Iceland during your time making this series?
I think visually it was more amazing than I could even imagine. I suspected it would be intense and dangerous. There were definitely times where I felt kind of unwelcome like I was walking on eggshells. Except the eggshells were dried up lava fields and I was walking up a volcano that was due to erupt at any moment. I definitely felt at the mercy of the landscape. Iceland is a prime example of a landscape that is much more evidently powerful than humans, and I wanted to experience and document that.
I think there is such a wonderful sense of awe with your work; partially I think that comes from the aerial perspective you take. Can you tell us a bit about why you’ve chosen this perspective, it’s something that you also used in the last series 'Salt and Sky'. What is it about that vantage point that you find works for your photography?
I don’t always take the aerial approach but these two series particularly lent themselves to that perspective. The river deltas, in particular, were important to show from above because you can’t see the intricacies of the colours and shapes in front of you like you can from above. It gives you a better overall picture of nature in full force. I also just love the process of shooting that way. I don’t throw a drone up there, I actually want to be up there. In a helicopter, or a plane, or a balloon… Whichever way I possibly can. It feels more personal in that respect.
When compiling this series you had some really difficult choices to make in collating the 10 photographs in the show. How did you work through that process? What did you look for or hope to achieve with this series?
It’s always a huge task trying to collate the final imagery you will show. Usually I am choosing ten or fewer images from over 10,000 pictures. I wasn’t sure if I would incorporate other images into the series or show other parts besides the river deltas. I went through so many rounds of changes and cutting and culling. But when I finally arrived at these ten and put them next to each other, it just felt right. It’s a very personal process.
Without asking you to reveal too much of your process, can you please tell some aspects of your technical skill and consideration that go into creating such a series, and what you may have learned with landscape photography.
I feel like with photography, all the basic technical knowledge is learned in the beginning, and then you just subconsciously use what you know to adapt to whatever situation you are in at the time. Cameras, equipment and software are always updating for the better so you quickly learn the limits of your gear and where and how you can push it before you really do need to upgrade to something better. My obsession has been with sharpness and quality for creating large prints. This work is best viewed in large format – it’s where it has its greatest impact. Light is always the most important thing because you need a lot of it. And unlike still life or interiors, you can’t control the light. So sometimes you are at the mercy of elements and you just have to be ready to adapt.
Do you think your work is particularly benefited by digital technology?
Definitely. I used to shoot film for certain personal projects, and I still love it and the nostalgia that comes with it. But for what I’m doing now, there is no good reason for me to use film. Digital has everything I need, is way more versatile and gives me a greater margin for error. A lot of what I’m shooting (particularly from a helicopter) is happening in a moment and if I don’t capture it perfectly and instantly, it’s gone forever. Digital gives me the freedom to focus on getting that shot without worrying about the quirks of film. I still have absolute respect for people still using it, I just choose not to.
What dream do you still want to fulfill – this could be anything not just art!?
I answered this in my Yellowtrace article the other day, but I want to shoot something for NASA. Ideally planets. But maybe I could start here on earth and literally work my way up. I can only hope to keep growing and evolving and sharing more with people and inspiring them. I’m starting to research my next body of work and will start fleshing that out more now that Mineral Matter is on the wall.
In Conversation with our 'Life Within' Artists.
Thank you to everyone who visited Modern Times to enjoy the ‘Life Within’ group exhibition with Mark Alsweiler (NZ), Sandra Eterovic and Kasper Raglus. We througherly enjoyed having the works of these three talented artists on our walls! We recently caught up with the artists to gain better insight into their individual inspirations and artistic practice. Enjoy the interview below...
Mark Alsweiler– in conversation.
I think the first question is always what has led you to being a visual artist? Can you tell us a bit about the path that led you here?
I think early on it was a combination of being an only child mixed with growing up in a small town that has really bad weather. So if it was rainy I always liked doing paintings and drawings on my own.
When I was younger I liked skateboarding and snowboarding and all the associated graphics, products and magazines etc. That led me to study Graphic Design at University.
After finishing my degree I started doing some paintings more for fun and to keep myself busy. One day a mate’s boss who was interested in collecting art put on a solo show for me in New Zealand, which went really well. I moved to Sydney after that and have just kept making work and doing shows ever since.
You also talk about folk art and DIY culture as things that are of particular interest to you. Can you tell us perhaps what aspects of these you find particularly appealing and how this translates to your practice?
I think with folk art or outsider art I like its sincerity. Folk art is generally pretty naive and honest and has some individual personality, which I like rather than something like a photorealism painting.
I guess with the DIY aspect in my own work it has meant learning to make all my wooden panels; doing some framing; learning and improving as you go; and being comfortable with what I can do within my capability. I like seeing little imperfections in other peoples work and I think that’s what gives it a certain personality.
You mentioned in your statement that you view your paintings being similar to a film still, can you explain what you mean by this?
The process of making them is kind of like setting a scene with the background, and then I put the characters in after that. I like the idea of making something that doesn’t have the whole narrative, kind of like a freeze frame. So people can make up in their own minds what’s going on.
I love to learn how artists go from concept to the final piece, where does the journey for your works begin, is it the material you work with or something you see/hear that creates the concepts?
I think its a mixture of things I see day-to-day and might want to include in my work along with more calculated things from reference material that I might hunt out online to go with a certain idea I am working around. Mostly it all comes from drawing a simple idea down and then working off that to build it into something more complex or detailed. Then the process turns into being comfortable with the fact it will never be what you first imagined and adapting it from there.
Sandra Eterovic – in conversation.
You have a diverse background including textile and fashion along with illustration. How did you start as a visual artist, what did that path look like for you?
The transition from full-time designer to freelance illustrator/ artist was long and difficult. When I left high school I studied art history at university, and became highly critical of my own creative ideas. I got a proper job as a designer and did not make any personal artwork for over fifteen years.
It was only after my friend Anna recommended a course run by Jane Cocks at Latrobe College that I began to understand what making art could be like in contemporary Melbourne.
You have said that you have a partiality to the medium of paint and wood? Can you tell us a bit about your process and the role that mediums play in your work?
I have always enjoyed using various mediums, including clay, textiles and printmaking. I am not sure how I ended up being an acrylic-on-wood person but its immediacy suits what I am doing now. I would like to continue honing my skills as a ceramicist and printmaker too. I am especially fascinated by colour lithography. I hear it is very challenging to learn.
That sounds like a really exciting direction for you. Do you have a particular routine to make work, what’s your motivator to get into the studio and create?
I work as an illustrator most of the time. The studio is my workplace, so there is no question about motivation when a job has to be done. When it comes to personal artwork, in the last year I have found that entering prizes is a good motivator to stretch myself and bring bigger ideas to fruition. Split 1979, All I could think of, and Read My Mind all came about this way.
Your work has some striking imagery, both realistic and surreal in its composition. I'm specifically referring to your work 'Split 1979', can you tell us the story behind this work?
The Mediterranean Games are much like the Commonwealth Games. In 1979 they were held in the city of Split, a coastal city in the then Yugoslavia, where my family happened to be spending the entire summer. I was a kid then, and prone to the grandeur of international sporting events, fireworks and the prospect of the odd souvenir. I still have a tin mug which has "Split 1979" and the 'S' shaped seal mascot printed on it. I coveted visors and t-shirts, but I especially wanted the striped blue beach towel.
I have been back to Split many times since. In 2015, the Split 1979 beach towel was featured in an exhibition at the city's Ethnographic Museum, about fishing traditions in Dalmatia. I was a few months late for that exhibition, but I got the souvenir catalogue.
It is extensively researched, lovingly written (though shoddily translated), and beautifully illustrated with various photographs, many from local archives. I looked at the resigned expressions of women carrying giant boxes of fish on their backs, and pondered the rather prescribed culture of my forebears. Even now, men got to fish and drink and get up to all sorts of things. The women stay at home and cook and wash and clean. I started thinking about these women, and getting a little angry. Then I looked again at the Split 1979 towel and reconsidered the meaning of the word "Split". 1979 or not, I thought I'd give one woman a chance to escape.
Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?
I have wanted to make a series of small word based pieces for a while, and I look forward to starting on those soon. It may also be time to consider a self-portrait, instead of depicting my unsuspecting beau when he is asleep or washing dishes sans underpants.
Kasper Raglus – in conversation.
Can you tell me a bit about your background and what has led you to painting?
I’ve always had art in my life, my dad (Jeff Raglus) paints for a living, so growing up around his art and going to exhibitions it just seemed like a normal job to do.
Once I finished school I knew I had to do something within the art world, I started off doing more graphic and commercial work but that eventually led to doing small paintings and then my first show.
You say in your statement on “Life Within” that it is the most “personal set of works to date” and was “therapeutic”, without putting you on the spot too much, can you tell me a bit more about what you meant by this?
With this set of paintings I was really trying to create something that represents the end of a relationship and finding a path in my life to feeling positive about my future. Some of the work could be a visual doorway to a bright colour for example, always open to interpretation but for me the actual making of these paintings was me telling myself that life will change again and again and it comes down to small choices in everyday life.
That is such a beautiful sentiment; change is really the only constant. Is your work typically biographical?
Yes but I always make the point that it's not my opinion forced on somebody, I want people to be able to see their own life in my work.
When we first met you talked about your work as part of a bigger story and that you hope the audience brings something to the work when viewing it. I just want to know how would you describe the subject matter of your work?
I suppose my work is 'abstract' enough to mean different things to different people. Each individual painting means something to me and I try to put a lot of emotion into my work but I like the idea that if somebody connects with my work it's because they see something that reflects their life.
For my painting 'You Connect' I was trying to touch on how many things need to come together for a relationship to work. The two shapes connecting or disconnecting, if you will, really symbolise that for me.
What are you presently inspired by— are there particular things you are reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
I get inspired by music a lot of the time, a certain lyric will jump at me and from there I take that emotion and try to create a painting that relates to the feeling I got initially.
Visual inspiration can come from other paintings I see but usually more random things like a book cover or architecture. I think where I live inspires my work a great deal, because there is so much space here on the coast I like to think the negative space in my work can trace back to that.
Speaking of space! What does having a physical space to make art in mean for your process, and how do you make your space work for you?
Right now I'm sharing a studio with my dad until I find my own, it does have a fireplace, which is really great!
I have a proper work shed as well as a studio so if I need to use power tools for whatever reason I have everything ready there too.
In Conversation with Caroline Walls
A huge thank you to artist Caroline Walls and all those who made it to the Modern Times Artist Talk on Saturday morning. Together with our generous sponsors CAPI and Everyday Coffee we had a fantastic catch up following on from the opening of Caroline’s sell out show ‘Another Thought’. Enjoy reading our interview below to gain an interesting insight into her inspirations and artistic practice.
Your bio is extremely impressive and seems so diverse in its fields of interest; can you tell us a bit about what led you to make art? And more specifically tell us about how you came to explore the female form in your practice?
During my schooling, art subjects were always my key focus and having studied Visual Communication at university, I began my career working with agencies here and internationally, as an art-director and designer - specialising in fashion and luxury brands, so this kind of work and environment allowed me to really blend my interest in art and commerce. Ultimately though, I had a real yearning to find a more autonomous outlet for self-expression through my art-making. This lead me to do a year-long post-graduate certificate at the VCA in Visual Art which opened my eyes to the possibilities of making art as a full time career. In terms of my subject matter, the female form has been of interest to me since I was fairly young – my parents have my figurative paintings on canvas I did when I was 15 years old still hanging on their walls so I’ve come full circle. It feels very naturally that this exploration of the female form continues, albeit in many different guises across the different mediums I work with.
You use the term “fluidity” when talking about the female form in your work, can you elaborate on what you mean by this?
On a physical level I guess it’s my way of evoking in one word the expressive qualities of the female form that I see and love – a women’s curves, it’s wholeness, it’s innate sensuality. The way it can express so much in how it moves, bends and reacts to the world.
On a more psychological level I am also keenly interested in the study of female sexuality and the fluidity of this – I’ve read many books on the subject and a lot of my works explores the idea around a women’s sexuality and how it is perpetually in motion and is not a static thing – but in fact fluid.
Can you perhaps talk us through some of your process, what spurs your ideas from mind to canvas?
Generally, all of my canvas works begin with very rough sketches – I have piles of them around the studio, some are highly detailed and others are very minimal, loose and spontaneous – which got me interested the concept of reduction.
With this particular series of works I set out to explore the female form in a reductive state, to the point of abstraction. Adding and subtracting the line and shape that make up the female in order to heighten the expressive power of the overall composition.
You work spans across sculpture, print, drawing, and painting mediums do you find that certain ideas translate better in one state or the other? Or is it the medium that guides the way for your ideas?
My interest in working across multiple mediums is for varied reasons - it allows me to explore the same theme in many ways, to produce new and unique responses to the notion of the female and what this word can evoke through varying the tactile and aesthetic qualities of each medium. The choice of medium can also dictate how spontaneous I can be - I choose drawing with charcoal for its ability to be really freeing and efficient and expressive – anytime or anywhere, whereas my paintings on canvas are made up of highly considered compositions that take more planning and a deeper thought process. I love sitting with a painting for hours and methodically apply layers and layers of paint - it's really meditative.
What draws me into your work is a lot about the palette, the use of the soft hues with a really limited range in your work is common and I’m curious to learn what happens in your colour making or selection process? What influences the choice of colour?
On a really basic level my choice in using such a tight colour palette of nudes, neutrals, deep blues and blacks comes from a really pure and honest aesthetic response I have to these tones that is just intrinsically part of me – they fill me with happiness when I look at them – my home for instance and what I choose to have around me are all very much in these muted and subtle tones. Bold, bright colours in tones of greens yellows, reds, bright blues wouldn’t convey the feelings I want to evoke in my works either and to stray from my palette wouldn’t feel natural I guess. These colours allow me to express the suppleness of skin, the softness of a women’s body and so on but I think even though my works can be very muted, subtle and minimal in colour palette there is a real boldness in that.
The way women see themselves and see other women is somehow still dictated by a general sense of what it is to be female which may not always reflect reality, is this something you think about when making a work? Can you tell us about the themes you explore in your work and what you hope the audience will experience in seeing your work?
I hope my works evoke a sense of celebration and empowerment of and for the female. I’m interested in what lies beneath the surface of a woman in todays cultural sphere – given the intensity in which we are forced to engage and present ourselves with the influx of social media and what we witness online, in magazines etc. There is still a real pressure to present ourselves in a certain way with relation to our sensuality, our sexuality, what we do with out fertility and the types of work we do. So in that sense I am ever curious about the differences between the private and the public self and how outside forces can impede on a womans truest self – the unseen aspect of a woman. I think in many ways we have seen a real shift in perceptions of what it means to be female, an openness and solidarity that wasn’t so apparent before but I do believe there is a long way to go. As a woman myself I am deeply curious about the way gender lines, sense of self and sexuality plays into our understanding and approach to the world around us and I hope my works can form a small part of that conversation.
I think we can lighten up again and chat about your inspirations. What are you presently influenced by— are there particular things you are reading, listening to or looking at to inspire you?
I take a lot of inspirations from the everyday experiences I go through as a woman, particularly as a woman in a relationship with another woman (which creates an interesting dynamic with the generally heteronormative world around me). Also I am a sponge for ideas and thoughts that come up in conversation I have with close friends that centre around relationships, the sense of self and so on. It shouldn’t come as a surprise but I have a deep love for figurative (or bodily-leaning!) art created by women artists – there is no shortage of incredible works that inspire, some past and some present; Marlene Dumas, Polly Borland, Sarah Lucas, Collier Schorr, Louise Bourgeois, Kerstin Dreschel.. I could go on! Music is always on in my studio which allows me to really switch off from the outside world, and particular tracks have been known to influence the titles of my pieces!
You’ve lived in such big cities New York, London; do you feel you’re influenced creatively by your city? If so what influences has Melbourne given you?
My personal experiences have been that even though cities such as NYC and London are much larger in many respects I’ve always found a smaller community of people and day to day experiences within it that feels much like Melbourne, creatively speaking, the subject matter, inspiration and experiences of womanhood I choose to seek out and engage in are universal so I don’t feel like it’s dictated by any particular city as such.
In Conversation with Hannah Nowlan
Thank you to everyone who has popped in to see Hannah Nowlan’s sell out exhibition ‘Myths Moons and Mountains’, we are so proud of what a great success Hannah’s first solo show has been! The Exhibition is coming down this Thursday but if you missed out you can still view the work on our website here or shop exclusive Modern Times editions here.
This week we caught up with Hannah and enjoyed what was a fascinating discussion gaining a deeper understanding of the process of Hannah’s practice as an artist. You can listen to the conversation on our Facebook or enjoy the read below. Thank you to Hannah for answering our questions with such thought and insight, enjoy!
I think when discussing this body of work the first thing I’m curious about is the development of the motifs through out. Can you tell us a bit about the subject matter or the content of your work?
The motifs throughout this new series are partly imaginative scenes and partly true depictions of place. The subject-matter that forms the motifs vary from seascapes and landscapes, to fortes, buildings and canyons, to legends and fables. All the influences tend to penetrate my imagination and become my own.
In part each shape acts as an anchor, trapping memories of places I've been or spaces I've encountered - these can be both physical and emotional spaces. The recurring shapes and colours throughout this series form a dialogue within each painting and across all the paintings as a whole, similar to the way language forms a myth or a story.
I think what’s become synonymous with your work has been the emphasis on texture, you go to great lengths to ensure the visibility of that texture for the audience, the works have no glass for a purer exposure. Can you tell us about the mediums you use and what’s important for you when choosing the medium?
I feel a work of art is more personal with no glass, it feels more real. I find the reflections to be distracting and they separate the viewer from the work, without glass an artwork, to me, is more approachable. I think the subtlety of texture has always been prevalent within my work for as long as I have been making. Medium is something I have a physical, spatial, sensual and visual relationship with.
I have had a long-standing love for paper since a very young age, making, collecting and crafting with it for as long as I can remember. Linen is also something I have had a long relation with. My mum being a dressmaker, I’ve always admired and appreciated fabric especially natural fibers and textures. I have a strong relationship with timber too, as my father is a carpenter and it has been another medium, elemental in my life.
Working on paper came very naturally to me, after specialising in drawing and printmaking at university. For a long time, I’ve wanted to paint on linen but with such appreciation for the natural medium of linen, there was a lot of hesitation and I felt I needed to reach a certain place before I I could positively add to what is already such a beautiful substance.
I think for those of us who don’t make art, like myself I’m always curious about the process, is it instinct when compiling your layers or colour or do you find yourself laboring over these details or particular pieces?
A lot of my work is instinct yet at the same time, a lot is pre-planned. A lot is stumbled across or discovered along the way and my initial plan will never stay true, I make a change or a mistake and it usually evolves for the better. You have to be able to let go of initial ideas, allow yourself to play in the moment and to not resist going with the flow or wherever the work needs you to go.
Prior to this series I never worked in sketchbooks on a regular basis, like I do now. I would usually just conjure ideas in my mind and instantly go off and make them. There was no time to plan, it all needed to happen right away. This series is definitely my most considered collection in this respect. Sketchbooks full of shapes and ideas lead up to each painting. Colours often come later, and the layers seem to build as I discover each shape on its own terms on the paper/canvas.
Some pieces just happen, they work and feel instantly resolved. Others, I spend days, sometimes weeks labouring over until they are right, or still not right.
You have said that you use the coastline as your inspiration that the shapes you uncover in the coast are what stick with you and translate to your work. Do you consider your work to be autobiographical at all; does personal history work its way into your art?
Definitely —my work at university was ENTIRELY different to what I make now and this is purely because my personal circumstances, spaces, mind set and ways to express a certain experience have changed over the years. It’s usually in hindsight where I can see clearly why I was making a certain type of work or practicing in a particular way and it almost always comes down to a connection with ‘self’ at the time. The works derive from somewhere innately personal and I feel rather exposed and vulnerable - another element to why I like the paper and canvas to be exposed to its external environment.
This body of work has taken a leap and is so different to your earlier pieces, when we visited your studio you talked about the influence of your recent residency on this work. Can you tell us a bit about the experiences in Portugal and perhaps how this has influenced your work or your philosophy for Myths Moons and Mountains work?
My Portugal residency was my first trip, overseas alone. I knew I was capable of travelling alone for 2 months or even longer but I wasn't aware of how independently invigorated it would make me feel. I think this played a large role in boosting my confidence as an artist, in a way it validated my practice and made me realise that I do have something unique to share.
It allowed me to feel more confident to experiment with new materials and to push my practice into new spheres. The philosophy behind this new collection is inspired by natural elements, out of our control forces and both internal and external shifts. For me this collection doesn't seem to be a big leap, it feels like I have been working towards these pieces for a long time. It just took being out of my comfort zone to realise their potential.
It seems that artists are sometimes like sponges of the world, absorbing everything for inspiration and then creating work out of those experiences. What are you presently influenced by— are there particular things you are reading, listening to or looking at to inspire you?
I definitely feel like a sponge. I absorb shapes, colours and strange memories, often without even realising. Then one day they re-appear in my work. I have a regular yoga practice, which I find influences my work profoundly. I create many parallels between my breath, my spirit and myself with the ocean through this practice - partly through the time I have at yoga to let go and be present. I’ve also been reading a lot about local mythologies —my dad often tells me stories about where we live and there are definitely certain elements that I’m drawn to.
What’s important to you when starting a new work, is it having time, the right space, a cup of tea? What is it that pushes you to a start?
I often have drawings and ideas in my sketchbook, that literally force me to make a new work, it’s like a seed bursting to grow. Earlier this year I upgraded my studio space, to a much larger area, I think this has been fundamental to allowing changes to occur within my work. I believe that my works often mimic the spaces I work in and on that note, they often directly mimic me and who I am at any given time. So I find it’s pretty important that I feel comfortable and relaxed in the space I’m working in, before I begin a new work in order to translate relaxed energies.
So on the heels of finishing your arts degree, do you see your work as relating to any current movement or direction in visual art or culture? Which other artists might your work be in conversation with?
I think there is an evolving movement happening in art and design, actually in living in general as well. A movement, which is about the everyday, it’s about slowing down, being present and also about being ‘home’— wherever that may be.
There are so many artists that I feel are creating environments out of their art practice, creating spaces and conversations about the pleasure of doing what we do, and the craftsmanship that is involved. Stephen Clark (Den Holm), Jordana Henry, Lily Johannah, Jordan Kerwick and Emily Besser to name a few. The stickler for this movement, for me, is appreciating medium, and tending to one’s own work as a form of therapy and/or to work with one’s own energy.
I’ve had a few conversations lately about my work harking back to 70’s vibes or the Bauhaus era. Bauhaus was a period where craft, design and visual arts emerged as one and where the notion of the everyday but also of appreciation became apparent in the objects we owned as well as the products we made. I think this association with my work is very true —as my work fundamentally brings together a work of craft and fine art. It always has. It’s always been a merging of craft and fine art. This series fuses these elements, in a more traditional way, merging my paintings with the craftsmanship of bespoke frames for example. But with this series, we (my father and I) have fine-tuned our materials and our processes, to refine and master our craft even more. It’s by far more considered than it ever has been.
Feature Artist Q&A Madeleine Cruise
Today we introduce the first of our new Feature Artist series. Every month or so we will bring together a series of artwork focusing on some of our fave local artists and designers.
We debut the series with Madeleine Cruise, a name that has been circulating around Modern Times for a few months now!
Since completing her Masters in Painting at The National Art School in Sydney, Madeleine has since been practicing from her studio in Newcastle. She is also the founder of an artist run initiative ‘NANA’, a not for profit gallery, shop and performance space located in the CBD of Newcastle.
Best known for her energising palettes and lively compositions her paintings are filled with personality. Working with acrylic paint, Madeleine paints effortlessly with bold brush strokes, layering her canvases with plentiful colour and detail.
In this series of paintings for Modern Times, Madeleine is richly influenced by emotional experiences in contemporary life, whilst maintaining a playful and engaging aesthetic.
Madeleine’s work combines abstract shapes with those borrowed from nature so that the eye can journey through the work and piece together its own unique interpretation.
Playful yet considered they have that simple balance. Using mixed mediums she layers and reworks the surface until the warmth and textural qualities are harmonious.
Madeleine’s works are truly amazing up-close. The scale of the artwork is generous, and you can easily imagine how her palette of bright colours, alongside bold dark and neutral pastels could lift any contemporary space.
Madeleine took the time to have a chat with us about her process, inspiration and gave us a few insights of her day-to-day life. Truly a rising star!
Tell us a bit about your background. Ie where did you grow up, what did you originally study?
I grew up in the country towns Camden and Bowral in New South Wales. I left home when I was 18 to study at The National Art School in Sydney, for a small town girl the city lights blew my mind and it was an important time of self-discovery. After majoring in Painting I won a Scholarship to complete Honours and graduated in 2010.
Can you give us a little insight about the body of works in this series?
This series is the result of a significant period of creative development and comes as the answer to the question I asked myself: What can paint do?
A couple of years ago I decided to work with less intention, in a more playful and experimental way, in the hope of locating my own language and a greater understanding of what I wanted to paint. Working without pre conceived ideas or the pressure to complete, I was able to work ‘with’ the medium and discovered some wonderful techniques. Most significantly though, the process revealed pathways to my subconscious and with it, a world that I am compelled to paint. These discoveries have informed my current mode of practice and can been seen in this series.
I like to think of these works as psychological landscapes, in the sense that they represent internal experiences and give form to sensation and emotions. They are deliberately ambiguous so as to operate as spaces for contemplation. I have combined abstract shapes with those borrowed from nature so that the eye can journey through the work and piece together its own unique interpretation.
Where abouts are you based? And, how does your creative process usually unfold?
I am based in Newcastle NSW. My creative practice is most often based around a series that I will work on for a number of weeks or months. However I have noticed that there is a limit to which I can focus on one idea or way of working, so I will often develop another very different series alongside it. Sometimes it feels like I have split painting personality but I think that perhaps it is a way of extending ideas and reduces the possibility of overworking individual paintings or becoming bored with them – which never leads to a good end result!
What does a typical day in the life of Madeleine Cruise involve?
I work from home where I have a studio out the back of my share house. I will most often sleep in and wait for my housemates to go to work before I get up so that I can have the house to myself. I then drink coffee, do some internet research, check emails and work on any art applications that I might have underway. When I get to the studio I will select some music and then lead a fairly regimented day – stopping for lunch but working through till late afternoon. My Australian Terrier Louis and I will then walk to the dog park where I’ll buy a takeaway from the conveniently located bottle shop next door and we’ll both catch up with our ‘friends’ and unwind till sunset.
Which other creatives are you inspired by / loving at the moment?
I am really inspired by fashion at the moment and have come to appreciate the amazing historic lineage of fashion houses and their reflection of contemporary culture. I love the continuous re invention of tradition, the wear ability of such amazing creations and the spectacle of the catwalk and promotional campaigns. The whole oeuvre of a season collection, in clothing, make up, set and sound is so immersive and powerful. Some of my favourite designers at the moment are Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana.
What would be your dream creative project?
I would love to collaborate with a Synth Pop musician someone like Grimes or Tame Impala, so as to create the backdrops to their live performances. I imagine making giant animated paintings that change colour and formation with the music. I could imagine that this type of collaboration would really satisfy my pursuit of creating immersive spaces as well as my alter ego of being a pop star.
What is your proudest career achievement to date?
It would probably be founding and directing the artist run initiative NANA contemporary art space. NANA was a not for profit gallery, shop and performance space located in the CBD of Newcastle, which operated from 2013 for two and a half years. As an emerging artist new to the city NANA was a project designed to facilitate community and exposure for like-minded contemporary artists in Newcastle. My role as director encompassed many unexpected responsibilities and I found myself juggling the role of curator, photographer, caterer, install team, secretary, graphic designer, mediator and cleaner at any one time – whilst trying to maintain a personal art practice and hold down a paid job! It was a big project and I am proud of all that NANA achieved.
Is there any new inspirations / new art pieces on the horizon?
I am working on a new series of paintings that work closely with music and are an extension of my current collection at Modern Times.
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An exciting time of year for Ellie Malin.
Ellie Malin is one of the most successful artists we show at Modern Times. Ellie’s prints showcase her superb eye for colour, form and composition. We asked Ellie to curate her top gifts from Modern Times and her selection reflects this. “When looking for gifts at Modern Times these pieces jumped out at me. Colour is usually the first thing that draws me in, followed by beautiful textures and functionality,” she explains.
The gifts curated by Ellie Malin reflect her love of colour and texture. Image styled by Nat Turnbull. Shot by Elise Grace
We love the dark and moody palette of Ellie’s curation of gifts with highlights of deep green and beige. If Ellie had to choose just one of these gifts for herself she says, “It’s hard to choose just one favourite, BUT at the top of my wish list is the dark green glass bonsai by Amanda Dzeidzic, a timeless piece reflecting colour and light. Simply beautiful!”
Ellie sums up her philosophy behind choosing the right gift, – “I’ve chosen these gifts because I believe functionality and beauty should always be purchased in pairs. One for you, and one for me!” Discussing further, I love her idea that “in giving something we love and adore it’s like we give a token of our self.
I think the same can be said for entertaining. This year Ellie has had her favourite Ottolenghi recipes out and tells me she is planning a tomato and roasted lemon salad as her contribution to the family Christmas. Yum! It sounds as though it’s just one part of a delicious spread too as Ellie explains, “our food style is a cross between Argentinian, Italian with a touch of classic Australian. Christmas lunch generally folds into dinner then into supper. All in all, it’s a fairly relaxed day with family and friends.”
A relaxed day will be just what Ellie needs as she has had a bumper year. Ellie tells me the highlights have been a printmaking residency at Megalo studio in Canberra, renovating her future home and most of all preparing for her first baby! With the baby due on 28th December, it might just be a completely different Christmas for Ellie this year…and certainly an exciting 2016!
Good time giving with Billie Justice Thomson
Melbourne artist, Billie Justice Thomson is known for her playful and humorous paintings but when we asked Billie to curate her top gifts from Modern Times she came up with a surprisingly sensible yet sophisticated edit. Billie was kind enough to enlighten us a bit more on her selection but added that her family always gives to charity at Christmas so doesn’t get too caught up in the Christmas present-buying madness – there’s a lot of sense in that too, hey.
The gifts curated by Billie Justice Thomson are all about everyday luxury. Image styled by Nat Turnbull. Shot by Elise Grace
If Billie does need to pick up a gift or two she simply chooses things that she would want for herself! “I’m drawn towards things that are practical yet luxurious. That’s what everyone wants in a present isn’t it?” The Grafa garden tools are a perfect example of this and Billie says they’d be at the top of her list “because I feel like they’re a lifetime investment in your gardening. Something that will never break and will age beautifully.”
If you have friends and family who are not so easy to buy for (because let’s face it, most people are pretty hard to buy for), Billie makes a great suggestion for those very folks. “The picnic rug, it works for anyone of any age, there’s no one who doesn’t like picnics!“ she says.
The lovely Billie with a work, Convenient Dom, from her sell-out show this year. BTW..it's now available as a print.
Despite Billie’s charitable approach to her own Christmas gift-giving she does seems to have it sorted. I almost expect Billie to tell me she does a soup kitchen on Christmas Day but she tells me - “I have a large extended family here in Melbourne and if there was anything less than the FULL traditional spread there would be a riot.” One of the draw cards being her mum’s famous trifle – “a sort of a pavlova/trifle hybrid. It’s ridiculous,” Billie explains.
Billie’s approach to Christmas is refreshingly sensible without missing out on her fair share of festive season indulgences. Billie’s steadfast family tradition of giving to charity at Christmas is one we could all make part of our own traditions too...if it's not already!
Sarah Kelk has Christmas covered!
At Modern Times, we strive to bring together the best in Australian art and design so it’s the perfect place to start your Chrissy shopping. For some extra fresh inspiration, we asked four of our favourite local artists to curate their own selection of gifts that will top their Modern Times wishlist this year!
Gifts Curated by artist Sarah Kelk. Image styled by Nat Turnbull and photography by Elise Grace.
Lets start with painter Sarah Kelk, whose sell-out show this year left us all on a high. Where she finds the time with her business Hello Polly, her successful painting career and family life I have no idea but I’m so thankful I could get the lowdown on her top gifts and her general approach to the festive season.
Sarah’s curated selection has a graphic yet organic aesthetic, she says “I wasn’t looking for anything specific, but was drawn to inspiring products that Id love to be constantly surrounded by.”
Sarah Kelk on her home studio.
As a self-confessed ceramics addict combined with her love of texture and pattern, it’s no surprise Sarah is attracted to the stunning work of Katia Carletti and Louise Kyriakou. Sarah says, “I love anything with pattern or texture, and these pieces are no exception. I absolutely love giving gifts to people, and often take way too long choosing the perfect thing for people I love. I think I always end up giving pieces that I’d quite like to have myself (thats common right???).”
Sarah’s best efforts to avoid the whole ‘One for you, one for me’ routine are not always successful – “ I’m a sucker for homewares , shoes and sunglasses!!”
In fact, Sarah tells me her go-to gift for that friend or family member who has everything would be anything ceramic. “Ceramics! You can never have too many ceramics”
Sarahs Gifts Curated includes original print by Ellie Malin, ceramics by Lene Kuhl Jacobsen, Katia Carletti, Concrete tray by Studiokyss and Suds Collar by Two Hills. Image styled by Nat Turnbull and photography by Elise Grace.
With such good Christmas shopping advice, Sarah sounds like she has it covered and when I ask about Christmas more broadly, I’m convinced!
Sarah blends together the best of her family traditions with her personal experience from spending many years in Europe. “I grew up with the traditional Christmas fare (Turkey, Ham, Pav etc) but always with a summer afternoon running race or cricket game with the cousins thrown in for good measure. After spending 8 years having wintery European Christmases, I’ve picked up a few extra Northern hemisphere additions that all seem to blend together to make a fun family Christmas.”
When Sarah starts talking about her secret family recipe for the perfect baked ham, the obligatory Pimms and bubbly, all followed up with a Boxing Day family picnic at Heide I start to wonder how I might wrangle an invite to this picture-perfect sounding Christmas!
Q + A with Stephen Baker
Stephen in his Studio with works from 'After Hours.' Photograph by Brook James.
The countdown is on, 'After Hours' by Stephen Baker opens tomorrow night! We hope you'll be joining us for the opening.
In the lead-up to the exhibition Stephen was kind enough to chat with us about sketching girls in dive bars, finding colour inspiration in the trash and seeing the romance in solitary moments.
Tell us a little bit about ‘After Hours’, how did the series come to be?
After Hours is a continuation of a theme I've worked with for some time now involving girls and late night dive bars. I'm trying to capture the solitude one can have, the escape from the outside world for a few hours at these venues. They don't always have to be bars, I find the same romantic notion in a hotel lobby or airport lounges. I get a great sense of one's self in the world when I'm seated at a quiet bar- hotel rooms and airports have the same affect on me. Maybe it's the reflective mood these locations create, I always seem to just sit back and watch the world when I'm in either of these places. I think I feel free from the daily grind and a sense of excitement and freedom all rolled into one. I enjoy trying to capture this mood within my works, there a reference of a feeling, something that can be used as medicine or treatment when needed.
What attracts you to sketch your subjects? Do you think they ever aware they are being sketched?
I'd have to say it's about a 50/50 split between actually being there sketching a subject or taking a mental or actual photograph. I actually sketch scenes that seem to capture a real life act I guess, something that's everyday and not hard to relate to. In saying that, the latest works are very much scenes I've put together in my head based on relatively believable situations. I felt these scenes had to be created and orchestrated outside of reality to capture the exact moment and feeling I wanted to portray.
Stephen in his studio with sketchbook. Photograph by Brook James
How does your experience as a graphic designer influence the way you work as a painter?
Quite a lot actually! I spend a lot of time on the computer when piecing together shows and also creating colour palettes. I like to work through various palettes before settle on what I feel is the best for the work, I can only do that by using a computer. I don't always work this way either, I'll chop and change depending on how many works are being created. My background in design has definitely allowed me to be more proficient with my painting. Also with the idea that graphic design focuses on conveying a simple and bold message- I too am painting with a very stripped back minimalist approach, much like a graphic designer. But that's being fairly generalised in regards to the design industry.
Your colour selection is beautiful, tell us about how you choose the palette to work with?
I choose most of my palettes from studying Pantone Reference books and also putting together palettes on the computer. I usually have a key pop colour, then mix in my mids and then throw in a couple of sharp darks to give depth where needed. Sometimes I'll stumble across amazing palettes on my walks to the studio, it could be colourful signage or trash in the gutter! I'll always take a snap shot on my phone and keep it for reference later.
Works from the 'After Hours' Exhibition. L-R 'Smoking At Bar - Part 1' and 'Smoking At Bar - Part 2'.
How do you see your work evolving? Do you see yourself working on a larger scale again like your work at the Fitzroy pool mural?
Oh I'm always on the hunt for mural work, I love working on larger projects. Being outdoors and up a ladder painting is always fun, except in winter… but even then. I have a few larger projects that will take me away from the canvas this year, one involving a large 2.5 metre fibreglass kangaroo.
We can't wait to have Stephen's beautiful paintings hanging in-store and will be delighted to share them with you over the next two weeks!
'After Hours' By Stephen Baker opens at Modern Times on Thursday 23rd April from 6-8pm kindly sponsored by Vale Brewing.
The exhibition will run until 7th May at Modern Times on Smith Street, all paintings are available to view online. For any enquries please call Modern Times on (03) 9913 8698 or email us email@example.com.
Featured Artist – Q + A with Leo Greenfield
Today we introduce the first of our new Featured Artist series. Every month or so we will bring together a range of product, special blog content and even exhibitions or product collaborations focusing on some of our fave local artists and designers.
We debut the series with Leo Greenfield, a name that has been circulating in the fashion and design realms for a few years. Best known for his sartorial street fashion illustrations, Leo Greenfield has illustrated the likes of Anna Wintour in Paris, local passers-by down at Fitzroy Woolworths and much in between. Each piece is drawn from memory alone, highlighting his remarkable attention to detail and individual interpretation of those who catch his eye.
Leo Greenfield at work. Photo by Clare Pathé, Paris.
Leo has been living and working in London, where he continues his practice of social commentary on contemporary fashion, on and off the catwalk.
He took the time to have a chat with us about his process, inspiration and gives us a few tips on other rising stars we might like to watch.
Can you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your practice and technique?
My art practice is primarily about people, social actions and how we move in the public sphere. A major investigation into this element of culture has seen me examine fashion and how we dress via drawing.
I am a studio based artist and love working with physical materials such as paints, pencil and papers. My drawings are always of real people and places I have experienced. All drawings I curate on my blog are draw from memory.
Autumn Coat, Leo Greenfield.
What inspires you? What is it about your subjects that attracts you attention?
Currently I'm inspired by venturing into new worlds, from my new neighborhood of Hackney in East London, to the endless galleries here in the city. I'm keen to soak up the history of image making and art practice that the great museums offer.
Rose Street, Leo Greenfield.
How has your practice evolved over time? Have you explored dofferent themes or gone thorugh the process of working on different exhibitions and projects? Please tell us a bit about your history as an artist.
My practices can change with each project, from a book to a film or an exhibition, the work can take on many different forms. But for me drawing is always the starting point, it's the process I think through.
I've loved drawing since a young age but I started using it to document fashion as a teenager when visiting Japan. This led me to studying Art History and then a Bachelor of Fine Art at the Victorian College of the Arts.
During this period I became fascinated with media, from magazines to digital publishing. I wanted to share my work, see the drawings inhabit different platforms and reach different audiences.
I saw the fashion world as an interesting element of visual culture and I began to investigate. Creating works for Vogue magazine gave me further insight into this world, but the runway shows of Paris have always been my favorite source of material.
Melbourne was an incredible base as an artist and gave me the confidence to relocate to Paris and now London. Here in the East End I have set up a studio and building a collaborative team around my work, and we are experimenting with new mediums and stretching the drawings into animations.
Leopard Print, Leo Greenfield.
Who or what is inspiring you right now? Have you got any hot tips for instagrammers, bloggers or magazines we should be tuning into?
We it comes to media it's always a wash with me. I really love just exploring book shops.....I jump in and out of Instagram, but like to see what contemporary galleries are posting such as Ditto Press and what artist friends such as Rachel Ang and Sarah McNeil are sharing. The New Yorker is my all time favorite and keeps me company in the studio with pod casts.
We currently have a sweet series of original pen and ink drawings by Leo Greenfield featuring the colourful characters of our very own Collingwood and Fitzroy! Check out his artist page for details.
Q + A with Tom Blachford
With just two sleeps to go until our next exhibition opens, we caught up with Tom for a chat about the making of Midnight Modern.
Tom photographed by his girlfriend Kate Ballis out the front of the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs.
Tom Blachford's new series of works captures California's famous mid-century modernist homes under the midnight glow of a super moon. The journey from one late-night discovery to a finished series has involved two trips to Palm Springs, quite a few late-night scouting missions and some amazing street light serendipity.
1030 West Cielo Drive. Photograph by Tom Blachford for his exhibition Midnight Modern.
When I think of Palm Springs, I think of harsh, bright sunlight. What made you choose to photograph these houses in the dead of night? Do you think the idea to shoot this way would have occurred to you in your hometown of Melbourne?
These houses have been around for 60 to 70 years and I imagined they had been photographed from every angle thousands of times. We were also pushed for time to see everything so we needed to squeeze in some shooting and exploring after a dinner one night. I guess that's how it originally came about. We lucked out and noticed it was a full moon and I thought it might be interesting to see how they looked under the moonlight.
After seeing the first few images I was hooked. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when the first image appeared on the screen after the 30-second wait. After experimenting with a few houses I found that the only shots that would work were when all the lights were off, except for perhaps one lamp inside the house. Curiously, all the older palm springs suburbs have no street lights, which also helped.
1133 N Vista Vespero. Photograph by Tom Blachford for his exhibition Midnight Modern.
What led you to making this collection of images? At what point did you realise you were working on a series?
I absolutely love the mid-century tract houses, and admiring them during the day on our first trip I was struggling to capture them in a way that felt unique. On the first trip I shot about six images and we were exhausted so we headed home. Returning to Melbourne I looked at them over and over and kicked myself for not staying up to shoot more. I knew I had to return so we (my girlfriend and I) checked out the dates of the moon and found there would be the first of three super moons for this year in July. We planned our trip around being there for the moon with a couple of days to scout beforehand and a few days to relax by the pool afterwards!
The sparseness of these images can lead the viewer to imagine their own narrative. Is there a feeling that you’re catching these houses when they are recharging, or in between scenes?
I love to imagine what is going on behind closed doors. These images of the houses raise so many questions and possibilities for stories. Even better is the thought of the scenes that have already played out behind these doors in their 60-plus years of existence. Every time I look at them I like to imagine something different going on behind the breeze-bricks.
879 N Monte Vista. Photograph by Tom Blachford for his exhibition Midnight Modern.
How important is the physical scale of these works?
I wanted to recreate these homes as large as I could possibly print whilst maintaining quality – but also hoped that I could give them a diorama effect by shrinking them into little boxes on the wall. There are a couple of images that I swear could be doll houses with little painted mountains behind. Even when I’m standing in front of them sometimes I swear those mountains are a painted backdrop – the slight haze over them makes them look so unreal.
What initially attracted you to photography? What attracts you to it now?
I’m obsessed with the way the camera is able to warp both time and perspective to capture the world in ways I was never able to see with my eyes.
This series is very much a renaissance for me. I initially fell in love with photography when I was playing around with long exposures and light painting. The first time the shutter closed and I saw a streak of light painted across the image I was hooked. I played around with it for a couple of years very early on but left it behind to explore other techniques and complete commercial jobs that weren’t interested in such magic. It was amazing to be back out in the darkness and using long exposure to create work again.
What kinds of images are you interested in making next?
I’m not sure what my next series is. I would definitely like to work with the moonlight again, potentially explore a new style of architecture - and I guess, in turn, a different unspoken narrative. I love the stilt houses of northern Australia and I have a fascination with the littered lawns of the suburbs in our urban sprawl. I might try to work up the courage to shoot four hours a month under the full moon somewhere a little closer to home.
I also became obsessed with shooting from a helicopter earlier this year and I'm hoping to get up a few more times over summer to put together some more shots in my Aerial Summer series.
MEET TOM AND CHECK OUT HIS INCREDIBLE LARGE-SCALE WORKS AT THE EXHIBITION OPENING THIS THURSDAY 2 OCTOBER, 6-8pm.
Ellie Malin – Interview
Thank you to everyone who has popped in to see Ellie Malin’s exhibition ‘Moonflower’ since it opened. If you missed all the pics from the opening check them out here. We have decided to keep the show up for one last weekend so if you haven’t visited already, you still have a few more days to do so.
This week I caught up with Ellie and got a bit deep with her about her work and current exhibition. Thank you to Ellie for answering my questions with such thought and generosity. Can you believe her works take 1-3 months to complete! It’s fascinating to get a deeper understanding of what goes into Ellie’s work.
Ellie mixing inks in the studio.
How did you begin your journey as an artist and what attracted you to print making particularly?
Working in a creative field was something I always wanted to do. I loved to create. It always felt like the most natural place to be. Whether it was exploring the city through the lens of a camera or making objects out of clay, even when I wasn’t actively creating stuff I would be observing my immediate surroundings, absorbing and collecting bits of visual information along the way.
I particularly liked observing the world of architecture and nature and how we move through it. I’m fascinated with the impact and importance they have on our lives and had this idea that if I could translate the beauty and vulnerabilities that captured me and communicate them back to others, that would be the ultimate challenge and somehow, it involved becoming an artist! Printmaking seemed to offer the right kind of environment to explore those themes.
Other than loads of day dreaming and philosophizing life I went to school where I completed a Cert IV in Visual Arts at Holmseglen TAFE and went on to complete a B.A in Fine Art, majoring in printmaking at Monash Uni... there were a few other courses along the way whilst ‘trying’ out different careers. Ultimately and thankfully the art is where I was at!
Ellie's preparations in the studio. It looks fun doesn't it!
Can you explain a little about your process and methods or technique you use?
All my prints are created with traditional printmaking techniques and equipment and are unique states (one offs’). The work is very much process driven and mostly developed whilst working at the press. I like to experiment with colour and tend to work spontaneously and respond to whatever’s happening on the page. Images are built up in layers over time where I’ll revisit any one print numerous times over time (generally 1-3 months, depending on the scale of the piece). I have a couple of favorite presses that I love to work on, particularly the large Hilton etching press. I’m willing to travel near and far to work on these machines. More recently I was fortunate to work in Canberra at Megalo studio and back home I’m usually printing at the APW on Gertrude St.
The printmaking process (in a nutshell) involves mixing colours, rolling up woodblock plates with inks, setting the press, laying out shapes on the press bed according to whatever configuration feels right at the time, paper comes down and then roll it through the press… There’s a whole lot of clean up that follows not to mention lots of experimenting and developing ideas!
Ellie at the press working on one of her smaller geometric series.
What are some of the influences hat inspire your work, and the themes which you have drawn upon?
I’m influenced by the everyday, streets I walk in, people I meet, design, architecture, travels, plus a good dose of daydreaming.
My process is spontaneous yet reflective at the same time. I tend to think a lot about colours and almost meditate on it before taking a print to the next state/layer. I present myself with a ‘problem’, which needs to be resolved. It’s so easy to make mistakes, but over time I’ve found that through the mistakes I also make the greatest discoveries.
Some artists and designers that I love in no particular order are: Kiki Smith, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama, Scholten and Baijings, Marimekko, Mirka Mora, Tadao Ando, Fornasetti, Japanese woodblock artists, … should I keep going?
Ellie making magic with one of the smallest presses she uses.
What is the inspiration for this current show "Moonflower”?
Moonflower is an exhibition of colourful woodblock prints depicting an inspired landscape of ‘other worlds’. The beauty of nature, the man made, and a fascination for impurities within it sparks the imagination.
In this body of work offcut shapes of paper are the starting point and are transformed into woodblocks for printing. These shapes become centre stage as the relationship between them is explored through layers of colours and textures.
Remnants, which once would have been discarded are now the stars, moon and sky and are telling a story about what might exist beyond the familiar.
Soft tones of blues and grey speak of a cirrus sky while painterly gardens of aqua marine greens and citrus orange speak of growth and light. Stories unfold over time and new discoveries made between the layers of tones and negative spaces.
Detail of one of Ellie's most recent works currently on exhibition at Modern Times.
What collaborations or projects outside your usual practice have you worked on?
The most significant collaboration to date would have to be with my all time favorite (and I’m not just saying it) fashion label gorman!
Lisa Gorman came across my work online and before I knew it we were sitting together with the gorman crew talking about art and fashion. The collaboration seemed like the most natural thing to do. I feel that we have complementing sensibilities and I wear her clothing all the time! I love that my art can be carried through into new realms of every day life and that my prints wouldn’t be confined to a frame but possibly a floaty dress.
I think there’s a lot to be said about the collaboration process. It’s an inspiring process that combines different skill sets and allows for creativity to evolve and be transferred into new realms and I can’t wait to do more of these working in different fields!
Ellie at work
Ellie's current exhibition at Modern Times, 'Moonflower', is on until Sunday.
Ellie’s first solo show ‘Moonflower’ is on at Modern Times until Sunday 8th Dec. It’s a must see!
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