Noticias: What I’ve Been Up To…

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So I realize it’s over two months now since I left England, packed all my paints, charcoal, inks, pens, papers and a few clothes, and came to Barcelona.

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My three month trip has morphed into a six month one and I am completely at home for the moment. Home is in two parts, a room with light, a view over the city, an easel, and white walls becoming a patchwork of line and colour, and a communal studio where I spend my evenings painting from life alongside the Catalan retirees of Barcelona. This is also, pretty much, my social life.

And it fits.

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Trying to find my way back into oil painting and really understand it, i’ve been taking a lot of process shots which has resulted in these little animations which I love. Sometimes my favorite part is an in-between, unfinished stage – reminding me that sometimes you have to  just stop! This one was done on a portrait i had scrapped and sanded down.

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Not only painting, I’ve had some great models, known and strangers and been drawing –

A LOT.

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Some of these drawings are already up on Etsy and the shop is looking more spry than ever, and, much more representative of my current work. No painting up there yet but i’ll bargain on it soon!

Drawing from movement and dance has been the best thing…. finding  where observation, memory and imagination meet, giving each its space and letting them play together…

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See my works in progress on Instagram @BlancheEllisArt 

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Also, in MUSIC NEWS...

I’ll be playing solo as part of a showcase on April 1st at The Boarderline for Before The Gold Rush….

In my absence the EP I recorded last autumn with Maya McCourt as Various Guises has had some airtime on BBC – Radio 6 – (listen here). And, the stunning film, Purple Heather by Alfie Dale, for which we wrote some music has been finished! see the trailer here:

Purple Heather

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More to come soon.

x

Blanche

India: Travels and Drawings – Part IV

Well, It was a while ago now and London has me swept up in all it’s fever again so this latest instalment of the India trip has taken a little while to come through but here it is.

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With the last few pages of my sketchbook and some of the work I did with Tem and the Jagriti Yatra and the last two weeks of our journey in the wake of the train ride, reeling from the intensity of our experience on the rails we made our way back up north…. to Rajasthan.. on one more long train.

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This was on the train North from Mumbai towards Pushkar. Tem made friends with family sharing our overnight compartment and taught the father origami. I painted his wife who was perpetually amused and always bursting into laughter. They bought some fruit from a lady with a basket on the platform at a station and offered us some. They were good. At each station people got off to wander, stretch their legs and buy stuff, only getting back on again once the train had started to grind lazily out of the station, walking or running alongside and jumping back in the doors.

Pushkar – Kite Festival

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This was undoubtedly one of the most joyful things I saw in India, and perhaps have ever seen – every man woman and child standing on their roofs in beautiful pushkar flying colourful paper kites that hung in proud tatters from trees and buildings and telephone wires for a long time afterwards.

You could get kites from 3 rupees and they were flown from dawn till dusk for days.

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Tem and I also met up with Anna who, marvellously, had a banjo with her. We spent some time together.

The Blue City…
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In Jodphur the streets are narrow and the buildings blue, and found ourselves a wonderful guesthouse that felt like an Indian Fawlty Towers. Highlights were Sunni, the father of the family coming into our room to sweep a dead pigeon out from under the old wooden sofa on the second morning – he had just remembered it was there – and finding the newspaper clippings of the cast of Darjeeling LTD who seem to have stayed there during filming.

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At the fort we found this couple with their baby singing songs, all of which were beautiful and apparently meant, roughly translated, ‘Welcome to Rajasthan’. We sang them ‘How am I doing’ or ‘Twee Twa Twoo’, the Mountain Man version in return.

Next – to Bagru… The Home of Block Printing

We took up the invitation of a fellow Yatri and visited Davis Cutter in Bagru where we saw the amazing production of the block printing techniques that are rooted there.

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The long fabrics are laid out in the ‘Fields of Colour’ throughout the village, it’s an exceptionally strange and beautiful sight at sunset, especially when the fabric is collected and the earth where they were laid is stained strange tints and colours.

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I had meant this to be the final post but must leave now so i will save the last of the trip for one final post!

Find previous posts on my sketchbook travels in India:

Here – Part I

Here – Part II

And Here! – Part III

Jagriti Yatra & India travels 2015-16

Interview with The LondonY

I really enjoyed this interview with Nastasia of The LondonY. Effectively someone else asking many of the questions I should ask of myself and causing me to have a good look at what’s going on in my art, life and music.

What I do, and why,

and how.

Don’t know about ‘upcoming’, but wherever I’m at, I’m happy here for now : )

Blanche Ellis talks art, folk and how to portray people on the train without getting noticed.

Read the full interview on the LONDONY website here

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INDIA: Travels and Drawings

The Jagriti Yatra.

 Jagriti = Awareness
Yatra = Journey

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This charity runs a yearly train journey around India. It is inspired by the journey Gandhi took after returning from South Africa 100 years ago. It takes over 400 young Indian social entrepreneurs to meet role models and experience the diversity of their own country from the biggest cities to its most rural outposts. They examine the strengths, weaknesses and challenges their country faces, and explore and discuss avenues for positive social change through entrepreneurship. Working in partnership with Temujen Gunawardena I lived on the train will the Yatri’s and created a 10 metre long illustration capturing the content and experience of the journey. We plan to exhibit the piece in London in 2016 before returning it to the Jagriti Yatra team in Mumbai.

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Working on the JY train…..

More images will follow but below is one detail of the 10 metre long drawing that Tem and I made to document the journey, life on the train and the sights we saw, the experiences we shared and the talks and ideas discussed along the way.

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During the travels I naturally kept my own sketchbook journal. The first book I have bound from scratch and the orange cover of which is now scratched, scuffed, stained and filthy, the binding knocked out of all shape. And it is full of colour on the inside too. Here are some experiences from the book…….. It is so long I may have to put it up in instalments.

India Sketchbook: Episode 1:

The book begins:

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A book I newly bound.

Now a worn and frayed old friend.

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A portrait of myself by the lost and found artist Sharath Koona.

The start of a new journey.

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The opening ceremony for the Jagriti Yatra – Gauri Sharma Tripathi teaches us all how to do the Jagriti Yatra dance that we will perform almost every one of the next 15 days, often multiple times! I see an explosion of colour and fabrics. Over the travels, glancing out of train windows, I see the people of India pass as we whirl 8000km around the country from Mumbai to the South, to the East, North and then back down to Mumbai. I capture the impressions and moments of the people, I would say passers by, but being on the train, I was the passer by. They are waiting on platforms, heaving luggage and walking alongside the track.

In the city, Mumbai, on arrival one of my first thoughts, rushing through the city in a taxi, seeing the shops, the cards, bikes, buildings and millions of wares for sale:

Everything is leaning… there are no ‘right’ angles here.

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My traveling companion and partner in line and colour – Tem – experiencing jet-lag in the restaurant we ate our first dinner in. Oh delicious dosa with coconut yum. You are the best.

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The Yatra begins. It involves talking, listening, learning, dancing, good food, exploration and glances out of train windows at fleeting figures on train platforms… This old lady’s dress was a magnetic magenta shade above the yellow dust and blue shadow.

More to come in…

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India travels 2015-16.

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More artwork from this and other projects on Instagram and Twitter @blancheellisart

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Next sketchbook is under construction.

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Returned from Istanbul

I am just returned for the 2nd time in 8 months from Istanbul. When I visited last year, feeling an amazing fondness and love for this city I didn’t expect to be back so soon but my illustration work found me out there just last week!

Of course I stayed on a few more days and had a wonderful time running round and drawing the sights (and buying crazy things like lemon salt!)

Here are some of the places and moments from the trip….

Babel Cafe
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This restaurant we had an amazing dinner, playing backgammon and snap, drinking red wine, eating phenomenal food and dancing round and sharing music with the lovely owner as we left. My friend Tem and I returned on our last morning for the most delicious breakfast dish ‘menemen’.

Late for our flight I didn’t have time to visit the beautiful junk shop pictured on the corner but this view is a familiar one I will return to easily as every road we took in Istanbul seemed to lead us back to the crossroads of the incongruous Pizza Vegas and The Babel Restaurant.

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After the aforementioned evening Tem and I found a hidden away restaurant with a hidden away garden and tortoises wandering around… feeling wobbly we did portraits of each other (mostly without looking at the page) that came out just as wobbly as we were. Sitting on the swing seat and taking up two tables in this rather up-market restaurant, we recovered the will to go out and find the city.

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Sultanahmet  Istanbul - Sultanahmet and crowds

Last time I kept trying to visit the blue mosque, or Sultanahmet, during prayer times and didn’t see it. On this trip timing was better and I got to see inside. I had imagined it being bright turquoise and almost brashly vibrant, but actually the space has a very pale, etherial quality, accented by the blue and turquoise tiles and paint, but also by reds in the windows of the domes.

In contrast to the vast airy chamber surrounding them the crowd milled on a red carpet, every woman in a headscarf of course, even the westerners, and many men wearing the long cloth skirts they hand out as you enter to cover anyone in shorts. The hustle and bustle of the jostling people in their many colours was for me, an integral part of the view. I always find myself watching the watchers.

Elections and Princes Islands

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On the eve of the Turkish election, the most important in 30 years which had everyone holding their breath as the Kurds waited to see if they could get enough percentage for representation, we took a trip to one of the Princes Islands. This is the view, leaving Istanbul on the ferry.

We walked to the top of the island and saw a wild horse, and sat, and sang, and looked at the sea. We returned to feast on meze at the house of our turkish friend and to celebrate the outcome of the election.

When we got on the boat to return ‘home’ to Istanbul and our hostel it was full of people dancing and celebrating and playing music. The atmosphere was incredible. The celebrations lasted the whole time we were there….. huge crowds in the street.

Istanbul – i’ll miss you and your colours, crowds and junk shops, steep streets and fine food, and fine people – I’ll be back again. Soon I hope.

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Returned – Renewed

One last memory for which I haven’t a picture – Waseem in the Juice shop – thank you for your sanctuary and sharing in our music in a moment that was needed. And for the token, hanging in my window.

2015 Sketchbook – Drawing In Public – Drawing Public Writing

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well – it’s been a short while but i’ve made enough sketches that i thought i’d set them out them by theme for a change…

 

The largest collection is of Travel Portraits, mostly from the London Underground and Overground. So I’ll start with just a few of those. Trying a new – non-gallery format – let me know if you like it better !

 

 

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I think this is my favourite TFL sketch so far.

It captures hundreds of identical moments I see watching people every day – the commuter all bundled up for winter and tucked into a sensationalist free paper whose headline blares absurdly from the crinkled front page.

 

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The two guys from this page look like they’re from totally different centuries.

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Imagined journey – 

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Lady on the late train back to Brockley from London Bridge, fellow on a train from Hove to London.
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Newspaper headlines, brands and names of supermarkets on shopping bags are written all over public space, part of the markings of our world.

 

Sometimes they seem to make a visual point, I can’t always work out what it is, and don’t want to pin it down, but I like to include these things where they strike me as interesting or often, as amusing or absurd in some way.

 

commuters_2_finalA friend also sent me this excellent cartoon about drawing in public – it’s from New York.

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Some other posts coming up will be on exhibitions I’ve been to (Shiele/Turner)…

Egon Shiele Exhibition '14 at Courtold drawings of live music….

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and a new series that has been emerging in this sketchbook…

‘mistakable bodies’

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