'Evadere' (2021) by Ellé Hill
'Evadere' (2021) by Ellé Hill

'In Residence' Exhibition

23 April - 28 May 2021
No Jobs in the Arts and Attenborough Arts Centre asked six early-career artists linked to Leicester/shire to spend a day creating at home. With their immediate surroundings as their prompt, artists were encouraged to be inspired by the place they reside in; their home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The work they created embraces the idea of working with what you have or haven’t got, and celebrates the ups and downs of that domestic, creative experience.
The online exhibition showcases works by Ellé Hill, Elliot Robert Lawrence, Harry Garner, Jessica Wilson, Masah Azar and Sammy, which you can explore below; click an artwork to expand the image. The artists have also come up with six prompts, hoping to encourage different, perhaps more creative, ways of looking at our homes. So far, the exhibition includes a reflective thought piece by Curatorial Trainee Jenny O’Sullivan, and will come to feature creative responses by Attenborough Art Centre’s young ambassador group, Next Gen, building on the exhibition’s themes and ideas.
A triptych collage created using appropriated photographic materials. The three sections layer cuttings of vintage nature photographs and illustrations with faded, printed text. A new illustration of a hand cutting the stem of a flower with a pair of secateurs can be seen in the middle section.

Evadere

Ellé Hill (@elle.ll.hill)

Appropriated photographic materials

Ellé Hill is a Leicester based photographic artist, often exploring tensions of time and technology through her work. Ellé’s pieces utilise analogue photographic processes, combining them with other elements to disrupt the idea of what the photograph could be.

This work utilises appropriated photographic, print and screen-based material found within the home. The materials are layered together, through lens-based methods, to explore the relationship that many of us have developed to escapism throughout the pandemic. Primarily stemming from my own experience of media consumption over the past year, the pieces attempt to visually portray the chaotic and often multi-faceted nature of these different types of entertainment. The tension between the old and new, the physical and screen-based, the textures and shapes are portrayed through the 2D medium of the photograph; perhaps this itself is a reflection of these made-up worlds of escapism.

For me, the home has become a place in which I have been able to fabricate new ideas. Through the restriction of movement that lockdown has caused, my largely landscape based practice came to a standstill. Additionally, I struggled to access the resources that I was used to. My creativity has been forced to be approached from an alternate view, to which I was not initially accustomed. As the project discusses, finding ways to entertain myself generates new ideas. The reflection upon the media that I was consuming, and how these informed ideas, as well as how I could use them as already existing materials, became a large point of reflection over time spent in the home.

We asked all the artists involved in this project to create a prompt to inspire our audiences to be creative at home.

Elle’s prompt is:

Where can you travel to within your home?

A black and white line drawing on plain white paper. The same figure is drawn three times. One lies on the floor with earphones in, one sits centrally with a bowl of food and one reclines reading '100 Ways to Fill the Void'. The floor is covered with items such as a laptop, phone, ashtray, mug, soft toy, fastfood and a pillow. A speech bubble is drawn next to the central person with the words 'ANOTHER DAY IN THE DEN', handwritten inside.

Another Day in the Den

Masah Azar (@masahmakesthings)

Ink on Paper, 2021

Masah Azar is a Jordanian Fine Art finalist at Loughborough University, specializing in drawing and portraiture. Masah is particularly interested in exploring identity, interpersonal relationships, coming of age, and popular culture.

Thinking back to the start of the pandemic, I realized I’d spent weeks in almost complete isolation in my halls of residence. I managed to keep myself sane by indulging in the little things that make me happy, giving myself new ways of exploring and occupying the small living space I was in. I chose to represent that, layering multiples of myself enjoying my own company in bed, where I spent the majority of my days.

Being an international student, studying abroad has challenged and reshaped my definition of home. Home no longer meant the apartment I was used to being greeted with in Amman, nor could it mean the student accommodation I was temporarily living in, in Loughborough. I had to dig deeper to find new ways of grounding myself in a sense of stability. Being apart from friends and family, in my small university town, during the pandemic has given me the chance to find ‘home’ within myself, the love I felt for the people and places surrounding me, and the little things that make life worthwhile.

We asked all the artists involved in this project to create a prompt to inspire our audiences to be creative at home.

Masah’s prompt is:

Think about what makes your house a home. What changes when you step outside of those four walls?

Photograph of seven oil paintings stuck to a plain white wall. The paintings are painted on sheets of white paper, all varying in size. The centre painting features a pair of overalls and wellies, the surrounding paintings feature a portrait, some rope, a penknife, a blue egg carton, a yellow tag and a black glove.

Lockdown Painted

Harry Garner (@garner.harry)

Oil on Paper, 2021

Harry Garner is an emerging artist based in Leicestershire. His work explores allusive narratives found in painting. Harry is fascinated with the idea that painting provides the information, but not the answers; he invites the viewer to build or unravel the identities of his subjects.

I was interested in the temporal aspect of this project. Eight hours to produce a developed painting was already slightly constricting, so I decided to push this limit even further by producing as many individual paintings as I could in this time (seven apparently). I selected objects that referenced my surroundings for the past year. For example, everyday farm tools; overalls my nephew wore when schools were closed; a photo of a friend I’ve not seen properly in months. The actual painting was a chaotic experience, but fun. My priority was to dramatically simplify my paintings. I premixed my paint and used limited tones and colours in each piece. My painting became direct, valuing every brush mark, because there was no time to go back and correct it. In the end, my hand was trembling like after an exam, but I felt energised, appreciating the act of painting as much as the final work.

Living on a farm can always be quite isolating, with or without lockdown, so I’m used to being alone. However, not leaving the farm and not seeing anyone outside my immediate family, for eight weeks straight, really does begin to question the extent of my sanity. At first, I felt my home had been transformed into something frightening, think about Andrew Wyeth’s paintings or worse, Kubrick’s The Shining. Yet, as lockdown has progressed, I’ve realised how fortunate I am to have so much outdoor space to work and roam around unrestricted. I’m now far more grateful for my surroundings, and I might actually miss them once lockdown ends – as long as it does eventually end!

We asked all the artists involved in this project to create a prompt to inspire our audiences to be creative at home.

Harry’s prompt is:

Objects can convey information or feelings from a specific place, time or person. What overlooked objects do you have in your home that reference your identity or sense of nostalgia?

"A digital 3D rendering of four pastel-coloured objects sat within a white, empty space. Three of the objects resemble vases. The lefthand and largest one is borad and pink. The two central, smaller objects are green and pink. The object on the right is made up of three stacked tubes, one green, one pink and one blue. A yellow, spherical object with a smiling face is balanced on top of the tubes. "

Accommodation

Elliot Roberts Lawrence (@flliot)

Digital Rendering, 2021

Elliot Roberts likes to imagine sets of rules when designing on a digital platform, then he breaks them. Elliot purposely introduces rogue elements when simulating the real-world physics and perspectives, inspiring, intriguing, and enticing the viewer. Implementing a set of design constraints and exploring them gives the simplest elements significance in Elliot’s work; it is this feeling of significance that connects elements and hints to a narrative.

Spending thousands of hours familiarising myself with every minor detail in the room I’ve grown up in has forced me to analyse the specific forms of its non-sensical objects, scattered chaotically. As a ridiculous amount of time passed in solitary, I started to become overly attached to some of the shapes in my room, which I had come to associate with comfort and leisure. With most of my time in lockdown spent on a computer, I tried to further my understanding of form by replicating these trinkets. These small moments of escapism, in which I raised these virtual structures became essential to my lockdown experience. Some of my favourite objects included the outdated sound system my dad gave me, some happy candlesticks and my blindingly bright chromatic lamp.

The relationship with my home has never been anything special. Despite it being the place I spend a majority of my time in, I’ve always found more excitement and a larger sense of appreciation for the things in my life when outdoors. As someone who finds a massive amount of inspiration in street photography, I’ve become accustomed to finding an appreciation for objects and stringing narratives between them and composing a scene out of disparate elements. I took this concept into the 3D world, combining these objects in ways that appealed to me. This style of creating allowed me to perceive spaces and objects with a new found curiosity.

We asked all the artists involved in this project to create a prompt to inspire our audiences to be creative at home.

Elliot’s prompt is:

Moving forward I think we could all benefit from questioning the nature and origin of even the most mundane objects.

An invisible ink drawing on watercolour paper. Lit centrally by ultraviolet light, the linework appears white on a blue background, darker at teh edges. A drawing of a room is created from a continuous line. A central table can be seen filled with houseplants, behind the table is a window and below the table is a rug with a flower pattern. The corner of a bed can be seen in the bottom right-hand side of the drawing, and a desk and clothes rail can be seen in the left-hand side of the drawing.

My Personal Space

Jessica Wilson (@jessicawilsonartist)

Watercolour paper, invisible ink, 2021

Through personal growth, Jessica Wilson has found that the exploration of language as a pivotal communicative method has led to an interest in understanding how to be understood. Using reflective techniques such as continuous streams of thought, CBT, and continuous line drawing, Jessica has explored the relationship between herself and her room.

Engaging in critical thinking and reflectivity during the lockdown has reshaped my relationship with myself and the personal space that I have occupied. Much of my practice is analysing my thoughts, which can be about anything, and exploring those emotionally charged feelings and trying to understand them better. Having been in the same house throughout the entirety of lockdown, I’ve noticed a difference in the way I interact with myself within my room. I’ve experienced progression and regression, and truly, my world has been between these four walls.

Streams of consciousness generally tend to stay within our heads, but I wanted to explore how the relationship with my room might change if I continuously and vocally narrated the thoughts about any experiences had in that space whilst continuously line drawing to extract these emotions and feelings. The invisible ink acts as a timestamp of my continuous stream of thought, expressed vocally; the act of speaking aloud is a fundamental concept in this piece.

This room has always changed, it’s changed its contents and people, many times. It was never to be a permanent residence, and living through lockdown in a house that felt like it should feel like a temporary house felt very inescapable. Like most, I felt forced to spend time with myself, and doing nothing. How does one do nothing? Resentment started to stain the walls. The lockdown experience really started to change the way I was thinking, both about this room, ‘global imprisonment’ and myself. Over the past year, it’s like I can almost see memories of my experiences, from sobbing hysterically on my bed to being laid on the floor watching the shadows from the tree bounce across the ceiling. All the time, thinking, feeling, reflecting…

We asked all the artists involved in this project to create a prompt to inspire our audiences to be creative at home.

Jessica’s prompt is:

What happens if I vocalise my lockdown experiences by continuously line drawing my room?

Black and white photograph of a basement. The image fades towards the edges, surrounded by a smudged white boarder. A dusty six-pane window lights up the centre of the photograph on the far wall. The walls are exposed brick. Household items and piles of wood clutter the basement, blurred in the foreground.

My House is a Horror Movie

Sammy (@isoelegantweddings)

Photography, 2021

Sammy. Photographer of the imperfect image. Alternative processes and 100% experimental. Sammy likes to zig when everyone else zags.

My house won a silver award for architecture in 1889; it helped influence a Domestic Revival of Gothic structure within Leicester. This house is beautiful inside as well as out, and I explored every nook and cranny. My camera and I ended up gravitating towards the basement. Some original parts of the house are kept safe in the basement, and, as a result, years of webs and dust have coated these structures that once stood tall against the elements.

I went old school and used a medium format camera. Medium format was always a preference when photographing the basement, due to the eclectic collection of old house parts. They fill the walls from corner to corner, and I wanted a camera that captured most of it. The final print represents how dishevelled and jagged the basement was, so my print processing closely resembled that of my subject area: eerie and disorderly.

When I found myself restricted and was told to stay in, I literally explored closer to home. The four walls didn’t seem so all consuming when I changed my attitude to look a little closer. My house is thriving with history and architectural influence, and I found myself weaving in and around the corridors, and eventually to the basement. From top to bottom, there are flecks of original pieces, such as doors, wallpaper, and some alluring statues that really embody and honour the scale of this 1886 house.

Not only has this project helped to bring some interesting sections of my home from the shadows, it has also pushed forward new photography techniques and ideas as well. The synergy of my home and my camera emanated a deeper appreciation for where I lived: I had a horror movie set in my basement.

We asked all the artists involved in this project to create a prompt to inspire our audiences to be creative at home.

Sammy’s prompt is:

Why did I go into my cobweb-infested basement?

Curatorial Statement

Co-curating this exhibition was more about curating conditions than choosing specific works. ‘In Residence’ was brought to life by six artists, independently spending eight hours creating in their homesunited simply by that very settingHowever, moving beyond early myths of lockdown as a ‘great leveller’I think it’s all the intriguing differences that really sparkle when these works are brought together. I can almost imagine the residency process as a sort of newdomestic biome: the things that grow within that space are strikingly different, but so clearly connected by similar currents and climates, sharing sensations and sustenance from beneath the soil. After setting the residency brief, we could only step back and wait. Now, it feels quite magical to see what has emerged. 
Whilst these pieces are centred on specific spaces, looking through them, I feel that everything else becomes less stable, from time, to mood, to plane of reality. Sammy’s beautifully framed photograph makes me think of a haunting Victorian daguerreotype, but, one plastic bucket at a time, it gradually reveals its deceptively contemporary origins. Warping the wonderfully wry realism of Masah’s illustration, a figure sits comfortably with other versions of themself from different times of the day. Or month? Or year? The layering of time is also foregrounded in Ellé’s highly evocative collage work as reclaimed photographs give way to fantasy and escapism. Despite their immediately contemporary subjects, Harry’s skilfully speedy serial oil paintings gain a nostalgic, archival quality, whilst a focus on mundane surroundings produces unreality in Elliot’s surreal but fantastically familiar 3D renderings. Jessica’s invisible ink line drawing maps out a mesmerising stream of consciousness; an electric, nocturnal glow, that can flicker away in an instant.
The confined experiences of lockdown were not new for everyone, and nor do these works speak only to this particular situation. Being able to take inspiration from what happens to be our immediate surroundings will always be an invaluable tool for artists. And if these images and prompts can offer a refreshing perspective on the spaces we live in, or a bit more creative agency in how we occupy them, I don’t think that would be a bad thing either.
Jenny O’Sullivan has been the curatorial trainee at the Attenborough Arts Centre for the past year, whilst studying Socially Engaged practice in Museums and Galleries part time at the University of Leicester.
The question used to frame No Jobs in the Arts number four, ‘What would you like to see the arts sector doing to better support emerging disabled artists?’.

Why publish No Jobs In The Arts?

Opportunities for new and emerging artists are not easy to come by. No Jobs in the Arts is a zine designed to give new and exciting artists a place to have their work shared across the East Midlands, and to encourage collaborative links to be formed between creatives.

No Jobs in the Arts #4

The fourth edition of the zine was produced in partnership with Attenborough Arts Centre; this special edition seeks to promote work by emerging disabled artists working in the East Midlands.

No Jobs in the Arts 4th Edition