Looking back, and forwards….

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So, I hear it is a new year. I thought, seeing as I’m sitting in bed with the flu, I’d use the time to reflect on a few things that happened this last year, and where I’m going next….

Jagriti Yatra

This last year that has had me drawing on windows in high rise buildings, sketching at festivals, partaking in several exhibitions and starting new series’ and collaborations…. began, what feels like a long time ago, on a train.

I was traveling the width and breadth of India with the Jagriti Yatra, a charity for young social entrepreneurs. Working with with my colleague and good friend Temujen Gunewardena we captured the two week train ride in a 15 meter long illustration….

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and all the while I kept a personal sketchbook of our travels…

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Mythologies Series

In the late spring I made a call out for an author to create written illustrations for this series of over 40 drawings and their myriad cast of eccentric characters.

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Since then I have been working in collaboration with the Ines Ferreira a visual artist, maker of art-books and author of humorous, strange and serious, magic-realist worlds. I entrusted Inez with my Mythologies family and have loved reading the stories that have emerged. The concept, of creating a book or exhibition from this combined work, continues to develop in response to the work.

I cannot wait to read more and find the full shape of this series but I am also enjoying the slow pace. The project has a staying power,  I so often quickly abandon finished work for the next project, it a great practice to keep returning to pull more threads from the initial fibre.

Portraits At The Ashmolean

I spent a great evening in the spring at the Ashmolean museum in Oxford as ‘The Wandering Portrait Artist’, creating colourful portraits of the guests at the museum’s Andy Warhol inspired Portraits night.

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Black and White

My usual palette is fresh, bright and bold, full of citrus, sun and luminous shadows. The Ashmolean project pushed my colours to pop-art saturation… but, in the autumn, I had a brief period of black and white.

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This series was twice as unusual because I was not only working predominantly in black and white, I was working from photographs rather than from life, or from my mind. The effect was rather like collage, taking elements from my own photographs and other images and interweaving them to create cryptic narrative scenes. This series was exhibited at the Creative Connections studios in East London in November.

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Various Guises EP

November saw the launch of the Tide Take Him EP by the folk duo, Various Guises, myself and Maya McCourt. I was able to bring my art and music together in artwork for the EP and in song illustrations. I curated an exhibition at the launch and exhibited the EP artwork alongside the work of other artists on the theme.

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Etsy Shop

Having clambered onto the social media of Instagram the year before I forged even further into the world of zero’s and ones this year by opening an ETSY shop… currently it is stocked with prints and framed work and I look forward to putting more original work up.

Believe it or not – it seems to be working, I have so far sold prints in the UK, Austria, Australia and the USA !

Colourful Nudes

As December grew darker and greyer, I began a new series of delightfully colourful, naked ladies with extremely strange hair.

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 The Christmas Market

In December I also returned, almost by surprise, to Christmas Markets for the first time in 3 years, and had a fantastic time. It’s that lovely feeling of selling your work to someone personally, knowing where it is going to and what kind of home it may have…

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I sold a lot of original work including two members of the Strange Familiar’s, another series that mixes text and image in a short story, or mysterious narrative, style. The rest of the Strange Familiar family may be found in exhibition in 2017

and last but by no means least…

Crisis

I had the privilege and pleasure of working with Crisis this year as a volunteer, making portraits of the guests, giving drawing classes and helping in any other (totally unrelated) way I could. There is something in a portrait, that means you have been seen, and recognised. There is also a connection that is made by sitting face to face with someone for ten minutes, completely aware of one another without having to talk, only letting conversation come of its own accord. Many guests kept the portraits, others sent them to family, to their kids or mothers. I don’t think could use ink, paint or graphite in a better way. I’m very grateful for the experience.

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What next?

On Friday I leave for Barcelona for a period of self-directed study. Very little is decided except that my oil paints are coming with me and I plan to wrestle the caps off the tubes where they have gummed up and become stuck from lack of use. Drawing will continue, of course… and the rest, is all adventure. The main question is if there will be space for clothes in my suitcase, when all the art materials are in there.

And, of course, the eternal question of wether the gods-that-be will allow my banjo on as hand luggage.

¡Adios!

Strange Familiars on Market Day…

Really looking forward to a return to market-life this Wednesday at Baxter Stores Christmas market where I’ll be selling Christmas cards, art prints, originals and framed work…. pop in to get ideas for art-gifts as the inevitable season approaches.

Find many of these things in my Etsy shop

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This guy might be appearing  in an exhibition soon, at 14 Bacon St, with the other Strange Familiars

If they don’t wander off the market stall on Wednesday that is!

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CALL OUT to Authors and Poets – Textual Illustration for The Image.

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‘Cubs’ Another from the series – Mythologies.

CALL OUT: I have plans for a book and am looking for a writer.

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This series has over 40 pieces and most of them emerge as if from some old myth, folk tale or strange internal narrative. This is why I call them ‘Mythologies’.

But… the tales they tell have never been written. 

In the reverse to the usual relationship of text and image I am looking to collaborate with someone (or several people) to write text to accompany each picture, to illustrate the images, if you will.  The idea is to combine these into a book. This writing, be it a paragraph of prose or a few lines of poetry, will sit opposite the artwork on each page and make a pair to be ‘read’ together. 

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The Story-World…

The idea is that each piece of text be another ‘moment’ from the images story-world, a suggestion or clue that opens up the narrative to further interpretation rather than attempting to complete, or explain the picture itself. Instead of finished stories I’m looking for writing that echoes or extends the sense of mystery and magical-realism, and may do so without obvious reference to the image itself. It could be specific, detailed, atmospheric or impressionistic. 

I’m very excited to see what emerges from the birth of this project…..

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If you are interested….

I’d love to see any snatches of writing inspired by this as starting points and inspiration for the project which is just beginning and is a brand new idea, so do share this with anyone who might be interested, and email blancheellis@gmail.com for more images if you’d like to try writing something, or to discuss ideas for the project.

More images from the work can be seen on my Instagram @BlancheEllisArt

I also plan to have an exhibition of these artworks with the text in the future.

Thanks for stopping by!

Blanche

New work… Strange Friends….

A new body of work has been growing… always bodies, always metamorphosing, always emerging from I’m not sure where, and becoming strangely familiar by the time they’re finished, as if I’d seen them a long time ago, and only just remembered them.

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As usual I don’t know their story before hand, but after I’ve seen them I can guess, and these guesses go into the titles.

The series is growing quite fast, the question really, is whether the pages of this sketchbook, or this particular 8B pencil, will run out first and mark the limit.

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I would like to exhibit them all together, as a community, but for now the community is still growing… you can see them emerging here

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There is a narrative stream working its way through these figures, like a collection of short stories, myths or folktales. I’m not sure of the theme, but the work reveals itself, and answers are dead ends.

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So, many minds, the crown hands, tea, and more to come.

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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

Mistakable Bodies…

 

I have been finding more Mistakable Bodies emerging into my sketchbooks….

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sometimes they’re born of a phrase…

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Sometimes they’re silent….
Mistakeable Bodies - Move - blancheellis.wordpress.com.jpeg WEBBut always growing, metamorphosing, emerging and dissolving.

Never static.

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Illustrated short story

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Here I have illustrated the shortest of stories, or a poem, by the writer Aniqah Choudhri. 

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'The Fox and the Woman' by Aniqah Choudhri  - illustrated by Blanche Ellis

‘The Fox and the Woman’ by Aniqah Choudhri ~ Illustrated by Blanche Ellis

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On the road one summer‘s evening
A fox met the woman he would marry.
She smelt like otter blood and barley
With top notes of sage and honey.
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He followed her all the way back
To a sleeping village where men spat
Whiskey on cobbled streets and
Cats urinated to mark their territory.
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Go away they hissed to the fox
But the fox slept behind the rubbish bins
That his bride threw orange peel
and chicken bones in.
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He killed a rat to woo her
and laid it on the kitchen floor,
And heard her scream of delight
 when she opened the door.
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His bride threw a butter knife,
A wine glass and an apple core.
Dragging his loot behind the bins
He knew their love was for evermore.
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Fin

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A wonderful mix of the mundane and the imaginative, a folk-tale of subtle simplicity. I hope to collaborate more with Aniqah on her writing and poetry in both illustration and song.