DRIFT – Ellie English speaks to us about her first solo show at Doomed Gallery
With a predominant interest in sexuality and how individuals come together to connect, Ellie English’s first solo exhibition at Doomed Gallery explores what value we place on intimate interactions.
Through the practice of photography, English’s work acts as a means of building bridges and creating a space in which important questions are raised & conversation is provoked.
English’s work documents the experience of wandering from lover to lover while opening a window to the viewer into the world of non-monogamy relationships as a young woman from a sex positive perspective.
We catch-up with English ahead of the exhibition to chat about her practise and the importance of printing..
So, could you describe your work and tell us about your photographic process?
The way in which I photograph is of a very diaristic nature, also probably somewhat naive. Diaristic in that I don’t do ‘photo shoots’, nor do I think about scenarios, situations or images I want to create for the camera, I photograph moments in my life as they happen, I may ask somebody to stay in a certain position in order for me to get my camera, but that’s as far as ‘staging’ a photograph goes. And this is incredibly important to me, my work isn’t about creating false stories, but the direct opposite, it’s about showing something real, something that feels honest, because that raw honesty is what makes it important.
When I say that my approach to photographing may be somewhat naive, what I’m meaning is that I instinctively take a photo, paying little attention to how I frame an image, or waiting for the right moment. Most of my photographs are taken mid conversation, or mid happenings, there isn’t actually any time to think too much about creating a perfect image. It’s basically a continuous documentation of my experiences as they happen – it’s how I think about these photographs and how I bring them together which is the most significant part of the process.
Despite my work being of a very diaristic nature, I’m not wanting to just showcase my life, thats not what it’s about. It’s about creating a space in which conversation is being provoked around matters which aren’t openly discussed with any real meaning. During the final year of my degree I made work on sadomasochism, a series of self portraits that depicted me in numerous states of engagement with S&M practices, not only did it act as a window into a world that is rarely seen (in any real sense), but it spoke about sexuality from the perspective of a young woman. That work was, and still is incredibly important me.
Before I really found my feet, and understood what my relationship with photography was all about, I experimented quite a lot with self portraiture and photographing those close to me, and I guess back then I used photographs as a means of creating an external space where I could unpick my thoughts, and try to understand the world around me. These are no longer my sole motivations or intentions.
Photographs have this insane ability of building bridges, bouncing off of one another, being suggestive, leading the viewer to question what isn’t being shown, and as I mature as an artist, its that which I’m trying to tap into.
What can we expect from the ‘DRIFT’ exhibition?
Not wanting to give too much away, I’ll keep it brief; the work being shown is speaking of non monogamy, the drifting from lover to lover as well as the still and in-between moments that come with that. My intentions aren’t to push at the adoption of such a way of life, but to show a perspective. An alternative perspective on love, connection, sex and relationships.
I’ll also be showing a large number of instaxs, which has been my sole method of photographing for the last 2 and a half years, it will be interesting to exhibit my work in such a way that also speaks directly of my photographic process. I’ve built up a pretty good relationship with Doomed Gallery over the last year, so its great to finally have a show there, and the space works really well with my work.
How did you start working with Metro Imaging?
In early 2015 I did some short term work experience at Metro whilst I was at Uni. My time at Metro really gave me a boost of self confidence in relation to my work, I learnt a lot in regards to the technical and professional side of the photography industry, but what benefitted me more than anything was the personal interactions I had with the staff, they were genuinely interested in my practice, engaging in conversation and helping the younger and less confident me gain a bit of assurance. And that’s why I still have a relationship with Metro Imaging, they’re professional, yet they still have real and genuine character.
Do you think printing is an important part of the photographic process?
Printing is an incredibly important part of the photographic process, how work is printed and shown will of course play a huge part in how anyones work is to be read. Considering I currently only shoot on instax, being able to blow my images up from their original size of just a few inches, to a much larger scale at a high quality is essential.
Are you currently working on another / new project?
I’m working on a number of things (laughs). Because of my approach to photography, I’m continuously photographing my interactions and experiences on a day to day basis, which in theory gives me a number of subjects to be making work about, its about tuning in to what I’m wanting to speak about and bringing images together that work with that. I’ve been photographing my father for quite a while, and plan to really do something with that over the next couple of years. But as for the moment, my predominant interest lies within sexuality. The work I mentioned earlier on S&M is something I will return to when I am in a position to do so, I’m not currently engaged in any established Dom/sub relationship, so that effectively cuts me off from continuing that work at this moment in time.
DRIFT is going to be an exhibition of where I’m at with this body of work right now, depending on how the show goes will probably have a part to play in determining where my attentions are focused over the next several months. I definitely have a lot to say, I’m just letting my work take itself where it needs to go and at the pace in which it needs to get there.