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Brighton Journal | 5th April 2020

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Artist of the Week: Ella Husbands

Artist of the Week: Ella Husbands
Elizabeth Richardson

This week Brighton Journal spoke to Ella Husbands, a local mixed media artist whose vibrant work explores perception. Ella uses film, photography, painting and sculpture to experiment with colour, pattern and layering. Most recently, her work has been concerned with disrupted, distorted and fragmented perception induced by illness. We discussed Ella’s upcoming installations, her inspirations, and how Brighton’s diverse landscape influences her work. Take a look.

What are you doing today?

Today I’ve been painting into some photographic prints. These will be shown in a group exhibition ‘I See the Sea’ alongside artists Annabel Wyatt, Lily Rigby, and Johanna Cragg at the Jubilee Library 5th-19th April. I’ve been using gouache paint to work into the prints, a medium which I hadn’t previously used. I’m enjoying the texture that the paint creates as it acts like a thick watercolour, allowing areas of both opacity and transparency, depending on how much water you add.


Describe where you do most of your creative work.

I mostly work in the studio space in my garden. It has large windows on each wall that let in a lot of light and give you the feeling of being outdoors. The space acts a bit like a green house in the summer, which can get very hot, but is great for drying your paintings quickly!


What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on?

The most exciting thing I’ve worked on was my video installation ‘Embodied Distortion’. One of the places I got to exhibit it was in the front window of Coutts bank on the Strand, through participating in the HIX Award. It was great showing the piece in such a public location, as a large volume of people would walk by each day. The video projections were running 24/7, so could be viewed at any time, day or night, by people who might not have otherwise been exposed to the work.


What made you decide to become an artist?

Studying art at university set me up to continue my art practice and motivated me to pursue it as part of my career. Connecting with other artists, staying in touch with my peers and regularly taking part in exhibitions has also motivated me to continuing making artwork.


What are you currently working on?

As well as the prints for the Jubilee exhibition I’m also working on a new video installation. I’ve been working on it for a while, in between other projects, but am aiming to finish it this summer. The installation will be made of large metal sculptural shapes and video projections. The piece will explore the notion of perceived time and the slowing down and speeding up of time in relation to how you perceive it. The projections will reflect onto the metal and produce interesting patterns of light and shadow and the videos will create rhythmic cycles that will aim to manipulate the viewer’s sense of passing time.


What are the key themes in your work?

My recent work has been concerned with perception, in particular disrupted, distorted and fragmented perception induced by illness. My practice relates to my current experience with chronic fatigue syndrome and has consistently used strong elements of image distortion in abstract explorations of rhythms and cycles in nature.


What would you like people to notice about your work?

I think colour and pattern are two important aspects of my work. I’m always drawn to vibrant colour and I hope this is something that draws people into my work.


What attracts you to the medium you work in?

I enjoy using a wide variety of mediums including film, photography, painting and sculpture. The subject of the work often informs the medium that I use, however, most of my work has an emphasis on colour, pattern and layering, so I enjoy any medium that allows me to easily play with those elements.


What equipment could you not do without?

I couldn’t do without my camera. A single photograph or video clip is often the very starting point for all my projects even if I end up working with a different medium afterwards.


Who or what inspires you?

I’m often inspired by my day to day surroundings. I’m also inspired by other artists. I really connect with the work of Michael Snow, particularly his video and sculptural work that cleverly manipulates the viewer’s sensory perception. I also admire the sculptural work of Lygia Pape, video work by Steven Claydon, Yayoi Kusama’s immersive installations.


How is your work affected by living in this area?

I use my immediate surroundings as source material for a lot of my projects. Brighton has quite a diverse landscape including countryside, built up urban areas and the sea which provides a rich catalogue of textures, shapes and colours to draw from.


What’s your favourite thing to do locally?

When the weather is nice I like to walk or ride my bike along the seafront with friends.


What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?

Brighton’s ONCA and Lighthouse are both great places to view art. I’m part of an artist collective run by ONCA so am often attending their gallery for talks, meetings and exhibitions. Matts Gallery and Chisenhale Gallery in London also have a lot of interesting exhibitions.


If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?

I’d love to work with Yayoi Kusama on a colourful immersive installation!


What’s your favourite colour?

I love the colour blue.


To find out more about Ella and her work, check out her website and Instagram.


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