Artist Spotlight: Ellen Rose


Written by Dont Panic
20 Monday 20th June 2016

London-based creative Ellen Rose pursues drawing, painting and photography, here we focus on the third form. We chat the influence that got her into shooting, her year so far and how her creative forms overlap. 

Hey Ellen. How’re you finding 2016 so far?
Pretty good. It's my second year out of art school and I've been enjoying my freedom. This year I've been working away in my studio, and I've had some commissions and had a few exhibitions to keep me on my toes. If anything I'm probably playing it too safe and need to shake things up a bit.

Over time, how do you think your photography style - if at all - has changed?

I first started taking photography seriously after watching a documentary on William Eggleston when I was young. He is one of the pioneers of colour photography as an artistic medium. I was moved by his whole approach to shooting, it seemed ingrained and instinctual, a way of life. Since then I've mainly shot analogue. I prefer it to digital because it of its aesthetic quality. It encourages me to learn about my cameras and to capture a moment in one shot. Over time I've had new influences and have followed different trains of thought, but the act of shooting stays the same, just another way of looking at the world and creating a visual record of what I see.

Do you ever feel constrained by your style or format? How do you challenge yourself?

I don't think I could be constrained by my style, it's what comes naturally and is constantly refining itself which is a large part of anyone's creative practice. If anything, developing an individual style can allow for work and ideas to flow out of you faster. My constant challenge to myself is to not be afraid of making mistakes. As a photographer you can't hesitate or you won't get the shot. You have to take the leap and i feel I learn more from the failures than I do from the successes. 

How do you think pursuing several different artistic practices influences you overall? What takes precedence for you?

Drawing, painting and photography are my central media. I'm always working on several works at one time in all three which allows for ideas to integrate and overlap. I'd like to get to a stage where I can show everything together and for it to all make sense as many parts of a whole. I have been focusing on my painting since I left art school, I think it's what I've always been most attracted to. The magic of standing in front of a painting that moves you is an experience hard replicated.

Is there a particular place you like to shoot, or where you think you’ll get good shots?

At the moment I'm pretty addicted to shooting in south east London, the areas around my studio in Deptford. I've spent the last few years wandering the same streets and I find that there is a beauty in the grisly urban environment that I'm drawn to particularly with my camera. I'm interested in capturing the interplay between people and their environments and London is endless fuel for the photographer because it's constantly evolving.

What would you most like to shoot that, for whatever reason, you haven’t managed to and why?

It's funny, I've recently been pushing myself to focus my lens on people. I find if interesting that so much of photography is based around portraiture, because I personally find it hard to connect to people through my lens. I feel like when I'm engaging with a person, putting a camera between us creates a kind of barrier, something they instinctively act in front of and it's hard to find a truth inside that. So I've generally tried to shoot people unawares, but it's not easy to get close up. I want to see if I can break down that wall somehow,  and make photographic portraits.

What projects have you got lined up in the foreseeable? Anyone you’d like to shout out?

I'm travelling Europe this summer, which will mean my camera gets all the attention as it's the easiest medium to work with on the go. Then I've got a group show lined up in Peckham in August where I'll be showing photography and painting. That is happening the umbrella of South East Drift, a creative platform run by my good friend and fellow artist Amber Hanson Rowe. Also my studio buddies, Alistair Leys, A Young Kim and Solomon King are all ones to watch. 

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