Nature Print of a dove, inspired by the traditional Japanese art Gyotaku.
“A world without beauty would be unfathomable and the fact that we as a species are able to navigate the deeper aspects of being is such a remarkable blessing, and almost like a healing balm on the complexity of the collective human journey.”
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative practice at the moment.
Art has always been a part of my life and is a beautiful gift I can now share with my daughters. I drew constantly as a child and I still love the immediacy and intimate nature of drawing. I would say I reconnected to my current creative practice in a more vital way after becoming a mother and whilst living in Northern NSW. I decided to move back to Sydney this year to undertake my Masters, which has been such an incredible opportunity. It has allowed me the space to really think about my practice and I love the academic rigour of both research and writing.
My practice in summary explores aspects of the human condition, our relationship with the natural world as well navigating the intimate inner landscapes and thresholds we reside in, and move between. I predominantly have been working with printmaking, installation and drawing but if an idea arises I follow it regardless of the medium; working in this way can be stressful yet also so extremely immersive and dynamic.
“… a creative practice is actually such a potent way to distill the multitude of ideas and emotions experienced at any given time.”
We’ve had a number of conversations over the years about how one of the blocks to making art is this feeling of self-indulgence and questioning how beauty “helps” the world. I know we’ve both swung a bit between creative arts and other arts like doula work/midwifery etc and felt that it’s all an expression of different parts of ourselves. I’m curious about where your ideas sit on this topic now?
It is funny I have never doubted the relevance of the arts but have certainly struggled with the idea of my own creative practice being relevant beyond myself. I am naturally curious and love learning so I am sure I will always be exploring many interests and a creative practice is actually such a potent way to distill the multitude of ideas and emotions experienced at any given time. In this way I begin to make sense of the world and my place in it.
A world without beauty would be unfathomable and the fact that we as a species are able to navigate the deeper aspects of being is such a remarkable blessing and almost like a healing balm on the complexity of the collective human journey. I am not sure we could comprehend what a world without beauty would be unless it was completely removed and I think we take the arts (and the beauty of the natural world for that matter) very much for granted.
I am coming to see part of the journey for me is appreciating the grace and importance of all the offerings we bring, however seemingly small, as well as letting go of the need to understand how everything will come together. I wish that was as easy to do, as it is to articulate. In reality it feels like complete vulnerability, surrender, and mostly free-falling blind faith. I am currently trying to trust my creative process, remain curious to all that interests me and keep my heart open- hard work, everyday.
“Both a human life and that initial creative impulse begin as something so subtle, so immeasurable. It is only through process and materiality; clay, paint, blood, bone, that there is form, where something now exists in its own right.”
I’ve always been fascinated by this notion of parallels between the sacred creative process of pregnancy and birthing, and the process involved in bringing art into the world. In what ways has motherhood shaped your self- expression?
Me too, I think this is why both paths are so compelling to me. In both, pure potentiality becomes manifest through a process that is really quite mystical in nature. Something of great mystery is literally translated through you. For me, this will never cease to be something short of spectacular. Both a human life and that initial creative impulse begin as something so subtle, so immeasurable. It is only through process and materiality; clay, paint, blood, bone, that there is form, where something now exists in its own right.
It seems obvious enough, however I have a tendency to live in my mind and this has been a huge lesson for me, both through birthing my babies and through my practice – that is, the importance of physical embodiment. This is what binds us to the intensity and staggering beauty and fragility of human experience. Motherhood has made me much more focused and honest in admitting what I want to put my energy into, what is truly important.
I think the role of the mother is still greatly undervalued in society and it is such a pivotal role. It is difficult balancing motherhood with a creative practice because, for me, both call for a very similar level of presence and commitment. I often feel the agitation and guilt of neglecting my practice. It is like knowing there is a living being locked in the studio kind of screaming at you – it’s awful but at the end of the day my most important works to date come first.
“I think the role of the mother is still greatly undervalued in society and it is such a pivotal role.”
Who are your muses?
The everyday, the mundane as well as our rich inner landscapes. Poetry.
The key women in my life who move through the world with a commitment to keep their eyes open no matter how painful that may be at times. The place where joy and grief meet, the feeling of nostalgia that seems to be a constant companion I am learning to live with, ritual, nature and the unseen world.
“Something of great mystery is literally translated through you. For me, this will never cease to be something short of spectacular.”
What advice would you give to other souls who want to explore their own expression but are still working out avenues/how to go about it?
Follow your curiosity. It doesn’t have to be perfect. There is no end goal. This lifetime is the work and the work will probably take this lifetime (Minimum). So do a little each day to move you along your own path. Also, don’t listen to people who tell you what you can’t do! If I could count the times people have taken the liberty of telling me what is and is not possible. Their limitations are their own - don’t take them on as your own.
Eleanor is a multidisciplinary artist and writer primarily concerned with the fragility and beauty of the human experience. She is currently completing her Masters of Art at UNSW and raising her two daughters. Having worked as a prenatal yoga teacher and birth assistant she is passionate about both birth and the feminine journey and hopes to continue being an advocate and support to women in the future, in whatever form this may take.
Follow Eleanor's work on Instagram here.
+ + THE MUSE SPOKE is a mini-interview series with inspiring humans that embody soulful creative self-expression. + +