As when meeting with Miriam, the micro element of 'Micro Interview' went out the window. Ellysia explained how she got involved in adding the unique twist of scents and wax to the otherwise traditional medium of drawing, finding her own space at university and what spices may be best to avoid...
Have you felt much of a difference creating for a ‘graduate show’ as opposed to creating as a student?
Even though it’s only been a week, I can notice the difference. It’s still self-directed in your third year but the flexibility here is different because they sort of dictate through your last year, why are you doing this, what’s your reasoning, put in a theory, put in this and link it to so many things that the kind fun goes out of it. A little bit, not that much, but just a little bit. It’s nice to sort of just do something because that’s what I really want to do.
Do you feel it’s a little freer, not having to justify why you’re doing things?
I do actually, because I know I will have to when I do it but just based on what it is. So I do think it’s freer - I don’t know why because it’s quite similar process but it is.
So, you’ve decided on the name Pulse, what does that mean to you?
I think you can sort of apply, because I’m drawing sort of not plants but, foliage and berries and brambles and tree lines - you can associate living and pulse with that. I’m gonna try and put a smell on it as well so for example, the one now - it’s gonna be sort of dipped in wax a little so that’s what will smell - hopefully. So I think you can sort of see links there, with the word pulse, I don’t think really, really literally as in breathing or something but just the loose theme of life and light as well. If I can get some light through it. I think you make your own mind up what Pulse is to do with.
Tell us about your primary medium of drawing and what got you into it, especially with the additions of scent?
Because I’m quite stubborn and actually, on my course they had three or four pathways, you know, painting, sculpture and print, lens based - none of them were drawing so I was like ‘I want to do drawing’. They didn’t really cater for that but I just sort of thought that the first few years were so much experiment and do what you want and don’t focus too much and I’m quite controlled with drawings - I found I was too bogged down with - painting I had to get everything correct and I don’t know, I wasn’t really loosening up. I thought I’d try different experiments and stuff but it didn’t really feel right, I know it’s good to be loose and free but I think I get a lot more out of making something I like the look of.
How were your tutors about that, you said they don’t really accommodate for drawing? Were they supportive or didn’t know what to do with you?
I think the second one, slightly. I had a really nice technician and he helped me so much with getting the sense of smell on the things and using wax and that side of things… In terms of the drawing - I did a huge massive drawing made up of all little bits and he was like - cut it up and get it framed and we’d just go down to the shop and get it framed and it was so painful after all of that. That’s when I decided nope, I’m gonna put it in wax and put a smell on it.
What got you interested in smell?
Well I picked herbs to do because my dad imports herbs and so it’s always been around, he just come back with big batches of herbs - they’ve got like his and hers allotment patches. So it was quite a natural theme to pick when there’s so many themes you’ve just got to pick something quite personal and it was due to the fact that I wanted to elevate and not just frame. That’s why smell came in and it was always sort of loosely there because I like to draw from observation so I’d set the herbs in wax so they’d last longer and they’d go all wrinkly and preserved basically so that was interesting to do. As you set it you’ve got this wash of smell. I didn’t pick the right herb in the end though, I picked Methi for my main piece which you put in curry so my show stank of curry which wasn’t so good. But then obviously I’ve got this residency I can hopefully not do a curry smell.
Have you chosen your scent?
I’m using essential oils instead. I’m not going to go for literally using natural things because I don’t think the point will be put across - I think either the smell will go or y’know, it’ll be too, not very nice I don’t think.
With something like essential oils - do you think people will feel a familiarity with your work, because it’s a smell everyone knows?
Maybe, maybe subconsciously that’s why I’ve chosen to go that way - I like essential oils and all the candles and all that stuff so probably, and my mum does too, they’re all round the house.. You don’t realise it until someone points it out.
Tell us a little about your project, what we’re going to see on Opening Night
I really would it to smell nice, that’s a main factor and I’d like them to get a sense of something because I know the drawing on it is so literal but I want them to think or feel something else. And I want- I don’t know - I’m putting a lot of hours into the drawing but that’s not what I want the main thing to be. I’ve sort of got to get this out the way in order to get the soaking and smell right. So I’d like them to focus on the senses. If it doesn't work out I’ll say - just look at the drawing. (laughs)
What do you want to get out of the residency?
Bit of confidence. I don’t know, because after graduating I had an internship and this, that and the other, a couple of small jobs just to fill in the gap because I don’t know if this is definitely for me, I want it to be but I’m quite realistic. It’s just a case of, this is such a good opportunity, use it and see what comes of it. But be quite like, open minded about the outcome, I think it’ll be really good if you can continue doing what you like doing.
How are you finding sharing a space?
Yesterday I had the whole thing to myself so it was great. I just dragged my little heater behind me and it was really nice. Tayler, he’s doing that big monster but he’s got his own area, no one infringes on each others spaces and I don’t think people have properly started yet - I know there’s some casting and sculpting - I think it’ll be nicer. Two of us missed the first Saturday so I think that was the free-for-all go grab your space so the window spaces were taken up but I think people actually missed out on being right in the middle. I like where I am. I can’t wait for everyone to get started because it’ll be more like, I’ve got a question, what’s your opinion, sort of bounce off each other a bit more.
Written by Lucinda Martin for Surface Gallery
Images by Gavin 'Urban Shutterbug' Conwill