Frame 61

Elise

Frame 61
Elise

Could you tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been a practicing artist and where did it all begin? 

I’m an artist based in London. I create sculptural works that employ a wide range of different materials and mediums. My pieces are often large scale and complex, though I would like to think that, in essence, they’re composed from an innately reductive approach to structure and form. 

I studied at Chelsea School of Art, which provided a valuable nurturing environment for me as a young fine artist, while also instilling much of the artistic rigour and self-reliance needed for the world beyond. I work from my studio in the Borough, London, and am fortunate to have received commissions that have helped to support my full time commitment to my practice over the last decade.

Pink Love 2015

Pink Love 2015 (detail)

Your sculptures have a playfulness about them, like kids toys. Is this intentional and if so could you talk about this and the reasons behind it?

Playfulness is important in my practice. On one level, there is a sense in the work of formal play with shapes, forms, materials and colours. On another level, I aim to disrupt and refigure the forms and materials I employ. I investigate the gaps within the everyday language of things: in the unobserved; overlooked; marginalised; in the fragment; and in the banal.

There is extraordinary beauty in a tiny curve of discarded packaging, the repeated ducting on an office rooftop, and in the linear twists of a playground climbing frame. When these forms are extracted from their original context, then manipulated through a process of distortion and repurpose, a spatial tension is created between the tangible and the abstract. I like to consider the language of the everyday as a site of imaginative possibility. Borrowing from the vernacular and the industrially mass-produced, my work seeks to create new, spatial totalities from disparate elements: immersive landscapes oscillating between association and ambiguity.

Metamorphosis 2015

In The Morning 2016

There is a conflict between weight, weightlessness and balance in your work, could you talk about this?

My sculptures are often precariously positioned in space, teetering between a kind of bubbling, weightless effervescence and imminent collapse. I enjoy pushing my materials against the edges of spatial, physical possibility, questioning the boundaries of their sculptural space. Heavy, hard-edged materials often appear as though they might float off, defying gravity; light, frothy materials communicate a sense of spatial temporariness and inevitable change. I try to inject a sense of duration into my sculptural forms, not just through the act of making, but in their physical construction and display. They perhaps conjure a sense of being suspended in a surreal, three dimensional moment before their transition into something else. This strange, rather uncanny relationship between volume, time and space fascinates me. I try to create a slippage in my forms between physicality and unreality, between material and immateriality.

What draws you to the materials you use? 

I use a wide range of materials in my practice, from plaster, clay, plastics and aluminium to low grade materials like plywood, polystyrene and cement, as well as found objects. I mix diverse textures, shapes and densities; intricate fragments combine with oversized, obscure forms; organic contours fold into sharp, machine-cut lines. Inspired by the idea of a ‘memory’ of referents, there is also a soft, semi-transparent layering of associations to other forms. I’m interested in contrasts between absence and presence, considering the absent referent in the construction of present form.

Similarly, there is an internal historical dialogue in the work between materials, forms and colours. I often repeat sculptural and colour motifs, utilising recurring or similar shapes and materials to subtly connect or mirror sculptural spaces. I also use colour as a communication of my form, as a persistent, tactile presence across the work.

  Catena 2015

Catena 2015

Bisque Blush 2016

Catena 2015

Citric Blush Detail 2016

What is your process, how do you start a new piece of work?

Process and material have occupied me conceptually in my practice for as long as I can remember. I mix handmade, carefully crafted studio processes with machined perfectionism. Industrial and digital processes provide my forms with a highly precise, flawless quality in contrast with the variable outcomes of the hand, activating the space in very different ways. Digitally drawn pre-planning lends the work a sense of exact calculation, which can then be twisted by the creative, eye-to-hand intuition of making elements manually. This said, I generally also follow pre-determined systems when working by hand in the studio. I’m interested in the way they leave a physicalised trace of the time and space involved in the act of making: a sense of internal memory that binds me as the artist to the space of the work. 

Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine?

My studio routine varies depending on the piece of work I’m making and the specific materials, tasks and processes it involves. Although I tend to focus on one sculpture at any one time, I carry out smaller tasks towards a number of further sculptures, conceived in advance. I tend to plan my work through a series of detailed drawings on my computer, considering all elements in terms of shape, scale and material. This is also the case for all machined construction, so the work mixes digital planning and machine process with work I produce by hand. My studio is full of half-completed sculptural elements, materials of all description, found objects, and endless tools. As I’m always in the midst of making, the space is continually in creative transition. 

How do you go about naming your work?

My sculptures often take their titles from commercial paint charts. Mixing paint swatch names together randomly, new titles are formed with a slippery ambiguity, which I hope simultaneously evoke and confuse associations within the work. 

  Hubble Bubble 2015

Hubble Bubble 2015

Ruin 2014

Ruin 2014 (detail)

What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?

Ettore Spalletti’s use of colour and volume within space has extraordinary dimensionality (Marian Goodman Gallery), Louise Nevelson, on show at Pace, has been an important influence on my sculptural practice since I first saw her work in New York. Andreas Schmitten at Blain Southern last year, for his shared engagement with perfected forms. Phillip King’s Sun’s Roots II at Cass, Jannis Kounellis at Sprovieri, Gaston Bachelard’s ‘The Poetics of Space’, which I’ve just re-read, and can never read enough times.

Click here to see the artist's website

What does the future hold for you as an artist? Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about? 

I’m about to begin a new series of large scale sculptural works, that, although planned to be created in a chronological order, are nonetheless envisaged to work together as one singular sculpture. In this new series, the spatial relationships between the sculptures will be interplayed with their chronology. The works will form one unified space, their elements similar, yet always subtly different: self-reflective in subtly mutating new arrangements, like a ‘repeat and transform’ computerised action or a manufacturing process, gone awry. The sculptural outcome will hopefully be strange and disorientating: a giddying immersive landscape of twisting, evolving forms.

Publishing date of this interview 24/06/16