‘Wake’ by Ellen Tovey Join us at Stour Space this June for ‘Wake’, Ellen Tovey’s first London-based solo exhibition in connection with Time Out First Thursdays. Private View: Thursday 6th June 2013 7pm onwards Open 7th June - 1st July 2013 9am-5pm daily AT: Stour Space, 7 Roach Road, Hackney Wick, E3 2PA In this collection of retrospective and current large scale paintings and drawings, Ellen Tovey is compelled to visually explore and express the intangible. Ever enticed by the play of light and shadow, the exhibition includes a projected time lapse video showing the creation of her recent graphite drawing, WAKE.
Artist Statement “In the past I have been compelled to paint from a need to relate the experience of living, and to question my relationship to the self. Face paint and costume have been used in my imagery to mask and unveil meaning. This has come from a desire to break facades and to look for some truth. I am drawn to presence, and concerned with expressing something of the inner being in my figurative work. This challenges me to express visually the intangible through the medium of paint. I have repeatedly created work that encapsulates duplicity and so it’s very natural for me to be attracted to the landscape that I find myself in. The large urban geometric structures framing the natural organic form. My work now is fuelled by a sense of wonder and has a more forward motion. Increasingly I am led by a feeling and energy that reflects the intensity of the life I see around me full of vibrant singing color, it is always the play of light and its contrasting shadow that entices me to paint. My process: Thoughts, images, blurred symbolism begin to hang around me like a haunting shadow, out of direct view. Through a process of contemplation, reading, being in galleries and libraries, taking in impressions and collecting imagery, the ideas begin to brew. At this stage I start to sketch, and then photograph models. I paint the characters in natural sunlight, as it’s an important part of my imagery to see the play of light and shade echoing the light and shadow of the content. My paintings are often made up of layers of colored glazes over a drawing and under painting.”
The Private View of ‘Wake’ takes place on Thursday 6th June 2013, from 7-11pm. There will be a wide selection of drinks from Crate Brewery and The Counter Cafe available. Admission is free. More at www.ellentovey.co.uk -EndsNotes to editors. Ellen Tovey is an independent artist based in East London. For general press and media enquiries contact Ellen Tovey at email@example.com/0208 9857827. Work is available to buy directly through the Stour Space gallery. Stour Space is a gallery, events, and studio space for East London arts and community projects. For enquiries on spaces or new business please contact firstname.lastname@example.org/0208 9857827. We can provide samples and more high res photographs where requested.
Stour Space, 7 Roach Road, Hackney Wick, London, E3 2PA | www.stourspace.co.uk | twitter.com/stourspace
©2013, Ellen Tovey. ‘Sasha’
©2010, Ellen Tovey. ‘Untitled’
©2004, Ellen Tovey. ‘Breeding’
STOUR SPACE. AN INTERVIEW WITH AN ARTIST: Ellen Tovey Ellen, tell us about your background before becoming an artist?
I was born and grew up in Somerset, from an early age I would work around my dyslexia by illustrating what I wanted to express instead of writing it. I always wanted to create, whether it was ceramics, mosaic, producing decoupage or furniture painting. I would get an idea and teach myself how to achieve it and by what process. I’ve played around with inks, glass paint, acrylics, watercolour, photography…the list goes on. I’ve always had a studio, sometimes at the bottom of my bed, the end of the kitchen table, the lean-to of my parents house, a green house; I have always found a space to paint. As well as painting I have always had a love of music and dance, and growing up I went to ballet classes and tap dancing classes, and did amateur dramatics. I studied at a local school and college then went on to university. I had my first large solo show at Strode College before attending university, at Falmouth College of Arts. I sold my first painting in a gallery at 17 for a lot of money and thought “Ah.” Basically, I’ve always been a painter. What materials do you most commonly and comfortably use?
More recently I have tended to work with oil paint. However I would not say I comfortably use any medium. I find it always a challenge and I’m always learning. I feel very much that I have taught and am teaching myself to paint, as I have never had a practical lesson in how to use the medium. Learning through trying and looking and reading. Sometimes when my attention is strong and I’m deep in concentration, the paintings paint themselves and that is when I’m most comfortable. Could you tell me how you find the subjects for your paintings? Are they based on photographs or live models?
Most paintings are painted from photographs that I stage and take myself. Mainly because a painting can take as long as a month and people are not free to sit every day for this long. Although they are photographs I would suggest that they are still live models to me, as I have had a lot of practice painting from photography and very much keep a strong impression of the person in my mind whilst working. Apart from commissions, the models have been people I have spotted in life who look to have something about them that would work with an idea. I spotted in a hairdresser advert and made an appointment so I could start up a conversation with her. Or more recently a young French woman intrigued me in The Counter Cafe in Stour Space and I made sure to approach next the next time I saw her come in for a coffee. For a long while I used myself as a model, for easy access, and a more direct line to what I needed to be expressed. In the past I would sometimes use found imagery, I was always attracted to the mystery of not actually knowing the person. The characters became like types or ideas of people - or simply used as a way of expressing a particular emotion. Paintings such as ‘Her’, ‘Girl Then and Now’ and ‘One of Many’ were inspired by a massive photograph taken of people in a village in Cumbria in Victorian times. I was so taken by the presence radiating from the little faces peering back at me they struck me as being more alive than the people on the street around me. Your paintings have an almost photographic meticulous detail about them. What kind of viewer are you imagining when you paint these pieces or are you not imagining one at all?
I don’t think of my painting as being photographic, it is intentional that they do not have the polish of the photo realist brush, but are still realist/representational. I think for a painting to have some thing of the real it needs to differ from a photo. To be real for me a painting has
to bring something more than just what we think reality looks like. I am always playing to an audience. The paintings are stills from a movie or a play. The models are actors in a way. I don’t think of a specific audience and it’s never good to try to think what an audience might want to see. However, when I get to the point that an audience is there, I’m always shocked to hear them speak. Do you take any inspiration from other artists, or a particular culture, heritage, period?
I take inspiration from everything, the colour of a golden leaf on a blue doorstep, the ginger roots showing through dyed pink hair. I am drawn to period clothes and costume and sense of drama. I did for a time regularly visit Tudor paintings - generally I like a diverse array of art . From museum objects, to stone carvings in churches. I’ve loved Schiele, Picasso, and Dumas. Most recently I’m in love with Van Gogh’s landscapes. You have exhibited at the Royal West Academy, how did this come about, and tell us about your upcoming solo exhibition at Stour Space?
I am currently exhibiting in ‘Drawn at the RWA’, which was an open competition. I’m very pleased to be chosen to show in such a substantial drawing show. ‘Drawn’ aims to raise the profile of drawing, presenting it as both an autonomous discipline and an interdisciplinary tool. From artists who either draw, or explore the concept of drawing in their work, the show features work from illustrators, videographers, sculptors, printers, embroiderers, typographers, animators and architects. The Stour Space exhibition will be my first solo show in London. What can we hope to see at Stour Space’s exhibition?
Introducing my work, it will consist of current and retrospective paintings. I hope for people to see the paintings that quietly shout for attention and are open to the viewers search for meaning. Paintings will be in acrylic and oil paint both large and small. Everything will be available to buy. Additional to this I hope to have a projection of a large pencil drawing showing it being created from blank paper to finished drawing. Are there any processes or new materials you’d like to explore and use in the future?
I would very much like to free up my practise to be more brave, and to mix in more instinctive rapid mark making with the tighter more considered current approach. I’d like to draw more from life and to understand oil paint and colour better. I have for a long time taken photos and would like to develop more my practical understanding, as it’s a much used tool in my work. Something I would also like to experiment with is print as I have done very little, and I think it would feed back well in to my paintings to loosen my hand. What can we expect from you in the upcoming year?
All of the above will be explored, and to grow as a person. I’d like to get closer to coming to terms with the business side of being a self-employed artist; to package and make more accessible work via the web. I would also like to broaden my contacts and build relationships with galleries in London. Very lovely lady. Thanks Ellen.
Interviewed by Tilly Stasiuk, May 2013.