How did your artistic journey start, El?
My artistic journey started a year ago after I had returned from a trip around Europe. I had been sleeping rough on the streets of Paris and having had my passport stolen I was relying on my parents and the council for sustenance when I returned to Scotland. I was rehoused and started taking walks in the country where I would encounter the local livestock – mostly cows – and my experiences with them led to art.
It was a beautiful time with echoes of Greek legend. It was difficult to believe and I was painfully aware of this strange separation between spiritual martyrdom and my awareness of events.
I had been taking a lot of photos whilst documenting my time in Europe so I was already familiar with my camera phone. I then started taking photos of birds flying around my house and (having never done wildlife photography before) I was amazed at the results. I was working from home at the time having just started a new job but decided I’d take a chance, dreaming that I could make it. So I quit my job and spent the next 8 months taking photos.
How did you arrive at the theme of your work?
The theme came from a few good framed shots of birds flying or taking off from streetsigns. I had done these sporadically but with the consistency of the photos I was taking I decided to experiment more with the signage in the street. I thought it unlikely that I would get the results I’ve achieved but the Arcadian wildlife was so responsive to my framing. After that it was apparent that this was a joint venture where I would find a sign and the birds would fly into the shot if they liked what was being communicated. This way of doing things has yet to sink in to my consciousness.
Can you walk us through your creative process?
The creative process has been a lifetime in the making. It stems from spiritual experiences I had 15 years ago and has been a long journey from there. I changed lifestyle habits as a result and these changes have been a means of exploring an understanding of what artistic skill could be. There have been extremes of course but I’m not encouraging an ascetic approach. It seems living the right way leads to creative output.
How has your practice changed over time?
Over time I’ve become more aware of the sensitive responses of nature. It speaks to me often. Sometimes intensely and other times subtley. The clarity of its voice has led to me taking more creative chances with my framing and the results have been amazing yet not surprising.
How do you overcome creative blocks?
I try to find something else connected with the overall theme to fill the void. This work is part of a massive project that began with the spiritual experiences of my young adulthood. There are many other things I have been looking at besides art such as health, sex, communication and religion. There is so much that you cannot get bored of the subject but I must admit it has been quite a drudgery at times health wise. You can find yourself spending a lot of time in bed. But then you look out the window and see this new collaborator flying around – and the results have been affirming.
Who influences you? Which other artists work do you love?
I’ve been on instagram this past year posting photos experimenting with communication, feeds and algorithms so I’ve seen a lot of other artists work. I admire the classical works found in Cathedrals, ancient wonders and such and have been inspired by all the urban minimalism.
I also enjoy the female models that post daily content and admire the standard of their presentation (louisa khovanski is pretty good but there are soooo many models).
I also like folk that are doing the same thing I am – exploring nature. Yana Wernicke is interesting. I like how she seems to indulge her base desires to connect with the animals.
What advice would you give to artists who are just starting out?
If you need to do it – do it.
Is there anything else you would like people to know about your work or your experiences as an artist?
I have suffered too much for you people and got fuck all in return.
See El’s work at our Summer Show, running at Six Foot Gallery until 6th July 2023.