artist interview

Ellis O'Connor

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Scotland Photographer Ellis O'Connor has an eye for the dramatic - soaring peaks dotted with snow, valleys that appear endless, gunmetal seas and a grey scale you can't help but adore. So it's rather fitting that she frequently makes dark and dramatic Scotland her subject. We had a chat to Ellis about her work, Hebridean focus and love of travel.

Can you tell me a little about your training and artistic background?

I am a Fine Art graduate with an honours degree from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. I am currently studying my Masters Degree in Art and Humanities based in Dundee, Scotland, where I grew up. I am a visual artist and specialise in photography, painting and drawing. I have exhibited widely and have recently undertaken artist residencies in the Northern Isles of Scotland, Iceland and was selected for the RSA Scholarship to Florence last year.

How would you define your style?

My style is based on the aesthetics of remote landscapes. It deals with different elements based on the land; the spirit of place, traces of the land and the sublime. All explored through a series of prints, photographs and paintings.

Within certain remote places there is a powerful atmosphere and through my work I invite the viewer to feel the [landscapes] presence ... and the textures and marks that we do not necessarily notice. My process of mark making, the washes and layers explored through my work are a direct way of showing how the unforgiving elements wear away the land. It all ties together to highlight the underlying meaning of the landscape and elements these vast places are exposed to. I also would say that my style is very bold in terms of capturing the overwhelming presence of the landscape and sublime mountains.

Scotland

Scotland

What inspires your photographs?

My photographs are inspired by travelling, mountains and remote lands. As long as I am travelling and venturing out to places that are unknown to me and far away from cities, then I will constantly be inspired. The intricate detail of the land, the atmosphere of the remote places and the feeling of being surrounded by nature and the wild environment is the main motivator that fuels and enriches my work.

What do you love about your job?

I love being able to go out to new places and capture them. It is a great thing being able to connect new people to a place just by the visual imagery that I put across in my work.

There is a certain drama to your work - is this intentional and where does this come from?

Is this intentional? Yes and no. I aim to capture the drama found within overwhelming landscapes, being out there surrounded by the mountains I feel a sense of heightened intensity and powerful atmosphere so I aim to put this across to the viewer. Also because these places are so staggeringly beautiful and present, it happens naturally that the photos end up with such drama; the place overall determines the outcome of the photograph.

Scotland

Scotland

Does travel influence your work in any way?

Travel is the only thing that influences my work. Without travel I cannot capture. As my studio is in the city, I find that every now and then I go on a road trip of Scotland here and there, to get new images, a new perspective free from the constant stimulation of being connected in a city and create new work! The wonderful thing about Scotland is that most of it is still very much untamed land up North, you don't need to travel far to get away from a city or even civilisation.

You've shot quite a lot of work around Scotland - is there something special about the scenery here?

Yes there is definitely something special about the scenery here. I was lucky enough to grow up in Scotland and with it's dramatic peaks and mountain ranges, layers of dramatic history embedded within the places and the magnificent lochs and valleys, it is simply stunning. I travel a lot to other countries and parts of the world and find a lot of inspiration to make work there but I am very much connected to Scotland.

Scotland

Scotland

Has there been a project (past, present or future) that you’ve particularly enjoyed?

I've been involved in a lot of amazing and inspiring projects but one of the best projects I've enjoyed recently being a part of was working on the Isle of Eigg (one of Scotland's remote small Isles) as Artist in residence with The Bothy Project at the very start of January. You can read my article and find out more about the Bothy Project on the blog here.

I found this very engaging and an amazing place to work. I was located in a beautiful bothy right on the North tip of the Island surrounded by cliffs and looking out to the magnificent peaks of Rum, I made a lot of new work there and most of my new photographs have come from being within that place. The thing I found most important was being off grid. As I had no distractions, it gave me the chance to just fully explore and connect with the island and make a brand new body of work. Also as it was right at the very start of this year, right in the middle of Scotland's winter, the weather was wild and there was not much light so it really pushed me out of my comfort zone in engaging with a place. Simply stunning.

What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?

My advise for aspiring photographers is to find your niche. Find what it really is you are passionate and inspired by and create a new voice for that. Capture what it important to you and find your own style so people will be able to recognise the work. It is also very important to have a level of depth and meaning to the work, find what the calling is. I have come to realise that work with a significant meaning connects and resonates more with the viewer. Lastly, never give up on something you are truly passionate about!

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland

Hannah Sheffield

Hannah Sheffield

English photographer Hannah Sheffield has a way of seeing the world - a knack for capturing the beauty in the everyday and making all things natural seem rather magical. Some of Hannah’s shots will appear in a story on the English seasons that will make an appearance is issue 1 of Lodestars Anthology, out later this month. We had a chat to Hannah about photography, England and the joys of the lens.

What drew you to photography as an art form?

I just love taking photos and looking at other photographers' work, seeing the world through other people's eyes. It always feels a bit magical and never boring. Also photography is simple and flexible, it can lead you or be led.

Can you remember the first time you picked up a camera - what was it like?

Yes I can! It was great. I took some photos of the sky for a school project about the weather, I think I was about seven.

Is there something you can capture with photography that you can’t with other mediums?

Yes, the stillness of the moment.

How would you define your style?

Opportunistic, peaceful.

What inspires your work?

Small things, a spider web glistening in the rain, a slight shift in the light, falling leaves, new leaves, soaring birds. Nature.

Has there been a particular project that you’ve really enjoyed?

I've got an ongoing project that I love and I am currently ten years into it - photographing my (excellent) dog Levi.

What is your dream subject?

Big wave surfing, hands down.

Does England influence your work in any way?

Yes - England is constantly changing, the seasons, the light, the weather. There is always something wondrous to see if you look closely enough. Also I am free to wander with my camera here, it feels safe. I appreciate that.

Where can we see more of your work?

On my website: hannahsheffield.com and good old Flickr: flickr.com/photos/hanssolo

Hannah Sheffield

Hannah Sheffield

Hannah Sheffield

Hannah Sheffield

Hannah Sheffield

Hannah Sheffield

Hannah Sheffield

Hannah Sheffield

Hannah Sheffield

Rachel Gale

London illustrator Rachel Gale captures nature, woodland wonders and food with heart. Her endearing drawings, ever-evolving passion projects, are feminine, uplifting and utterly bewitching. We had a chat to Rachel about her art, background and unwavering desire to get creating. Prepare to feel the doodled love.

Can you tell me a little about your training and artistic background?

Ever since I can remember I have always loved drawing and making. My pencil case and art box has always been one of my treasured possessions. Doodling on my exercise books often got me into trouble. Throughout my school years Art was always my favourite subject so taking a creative path seemed only natural to me. After my A Levels I studied 'Design & Art Direction' at Manchester School of Art for three years, which I loved. I always leaned towards a more illustrative way of working, integrating my preferred hand drawn style into the design briefs I was given. After University, I wasn't ready to move back home so London was my next destination. I imagined living in London to be buzzing with energy, fast paced and super busy, inhabited by people thirsty for opportunity & fun. It really did meet and exceed all my expectations. I hoped that this city would offer the creative opportunities I longed for, although not sure of what exactly they would be. Almost five years on, I adore this city more than ever.

How would you define your style?

I would describe my style as simplistic, fun and playful with a strong sense of 'hand drawness' and craft. I like working in various mediums, from pen and coloured pencils to collage, but drawing using a 0.4 black fine pen is my favourite. Creating repetitive patterns using intricate lines and dots is my bliss. I guess that the things I draw and the 'feel' of my work is a true representation of Myself. My journey as an Illustrator has been slow and organic, and as I grow, my work is ever evolving.

What inspires your work?

Everything around me. I especially like to draw animals, food and nature. I find the colours and patterns in nature absolutely fascinating. Through image making I express and document my feelings and daily life. Taking photographs and keeping a journal is really important to me, especially when travelling to new places. I recently went to Sri Lanka for a month… Wow, what a beautiful place. I kept a sketchbook throughout my trip, back on home turf as I flick through the pages, my memories and experiences radiate and transport me back to this magical island. Near or far, everyday life and experiences fuel my inspiration. Living in London is a constant source of inspiration for me, this place is just bursting with energy. From the people I meet and the walks I take, to the things I eat, this city inspires me. On a deeper and more personal level, practising Yoga has given me the nourishment and self awareness I need to drive my creativity.

Why does wildlife feature so heavily in your creations?

Growing up in a coastal town called Formby has a lot to answer for. Living by the beach we'd go for family walks and spend hours in the sand dunes. The pinewoods was like our second home. Being one of four kids meant we were never bored, we could turn any outdoor activity into an adventure. Hide and seek in the woods and spotting red squirrels was so much fun. I guess thats why now, I love being outdoors surrounded by nature and wildlife. I find animals and birds so interesting to draw, you can bring them to life on the page, with funny expressions and personality. The textures and colours amongst wildlife are so beautiful and endless.

My childhood pets are also ingrained deep in my heart. We always had guinea pigs and rabbits hopping about our garden. My Guinea pig drawing is based on our beloved pet 'Bean', and yes, with his roundness and orange fur he looked just like a baked bean. We'd spend hours in our garden, up in the tree house or helping our Dad in the greenhouse. It feels like only yesterday that I was knee deep in the pond, net in hand, fishing for orange spotted newts & baby frogs. Not to mention, our annual camping holidays to France, these are amongst the most fondest memories of mine. All six of us squished into our people carrier, tents and sleeping bags packed in around us and with our bikes on the roof. Happy days. All these things have shaped me into who I am today, and this is conveyed through my work.

Does living in England influence your work in any way?

Definitely. After all, I am English and I have lived here my whole life so it's had certainly influenced my work. I love this island. England is so diverse; its culture, landscape, architecture and history. England is my Home. A place becomes Home when I'm feeling happy, settled and safe. I have two homes, Formby, North West England and Bow, East London. I do miss living by the sea, but London fulfils me in other ways, I love walking along the canals of East London and I spend a lot of time in Victoria park. The contrast of the green rolling countrysides and the bustling cities makes England so interesting. The people we meet and connect with are hugely influential on ourselves as individuals. For me, especially living in London, I have met so many beautiful people, from all walks of life and ethnicities.

What advice do you have for aspiring designers?

Keep your integrity... I've always followed my heart and gone with what has felt right. Often random encounters have led to little jobs, often when totally unexpected. Working in this creative world, I believe your best tool is to be open and connect with others. Like, chatting with a stranger in a coffee shop or on a bus could lead you to your next job, or could simply inspire you. Being open leads to opportunity and allows chance to step in. Sometimes taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone is needed to bring on a change of direction, if you get that gut feeling, just go for it.

To learn more about Rachel’s stunning works, and invest in a few pieces yourself, please click here.

i like to draw

rachel.gale

Love The Rain