Interview with MiAL Artist – Esther Ellard
What first drew you to study at UAL?
I knew that I wanted to stay in London and UAL, specifically Central Saint Martins, jumped out at me as somewhere with a real buzz. Because I hadn’t decided my exact pathway I chose to do a Foundation Diploma at CSM. When I looked around it seemed like an exciting and chaotic (in a good way) place compared to other places that in comparison seemed more sterile and formulaic.
You have a very instinctive and immediate style, is this something you have always inherently had and how has it developed?
I think my style is something that has developed over a long period of time, and it’s only fairly recently that I’ve become confident enough with it to really let it drive my work forward.
I think it can be quite difficult to be aware of your own style, especially because I studied graphic design rather than art, even if other people are.
There are elements of my style that are inherent, but it took doing a degree course to really understand how/when/why these should be utilised, and to really enjoy the process of creating.
Can you tell us a little more about the process of creating your Tape pieces and their original inspiration?
The tape pieces originally came about from a project about processes and mediums. At the time I was having a moment of being bored of just working on computers and I wanted to do something practical. I had a few rolls of Japanese washi tape and stickers that I collect and never do anything with, so I decided to try and create something using just these. I started out using different grid structures as a base and playing around with the angles, it really was an exercise in composition and thinking about new possibilities for a common material. After I did a few I felt like something was going well, I couldn’t say what exactly, the images created just really excited me. They were like drawings or maps straight from my brain to a page, they weren’t logical and there were no rules but the compositions were exciting.
Your work is so immediately effective on the viewer, what impression are you hoping people take from your work?
I’m aware that when other people see these pieces everyone see’s different things in them; letters, building plans, faces, diagrams etc. and I like that aspect, I want people to see something unique to them. I don’t want to dictate what impression people should have I just hope people enjoy them and can maybe make a connection with them.
You seem to work a lot with everyday materials such as Tape or creating 3D paper structures, can you tell us a little more about this?
When I was younger I used to go to my mum’s office and raid the stationery drawer, use the photocopier, things that are not exciting if you actually work in an office but to me it was all brilliant. I had no real reasons to use these things so I would invent reasons like oh I just need to staple a straight line of staples into this piece of paper and then photocopy it and then put it in an envelope and probably I need to post it to myself as well and I’m going to need to take a highlighter in every colour.
I guess this desire to create with mundane everyday objects never left me and now I get to do that with slightly more purpose.
I think another reason is that I’m the first to admit how much I enjoy blogging, tweeting, instagramming etc. but at the same time making something with your hands is so satisfying. Feeling papers and tearing tape and throwing paint around is fun, and because the internet is such an integral part of life in this day and age, it’s refreshing to have a real life experience with real materials and a real outcome.
I love how so many of your projects invite us to reconsider things we might consider everyday, can you tell us a bit more about creating this impression?
The idea of ‘the everyday’ is something that really interests me, it’s actually something that I explored in my dissertation. It’s all about seemingly mundane things that we take for granted but if we consider them on their own they can actually have quite a lot of personal importance and nostalgia. A roll of tape isn’t that exciting, it’s practical, but everyone knows what it is so everyone can find some connection with it on some level and I think that is the beauty of the everyday, that it’s relatable.