"Art is a way of life in these cultures, it's not separate to their everyday; it's all one. I like to bring my art into everything I do, from cooking to getting dressed."
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative journey/work.
My studio/house is my sanctuary and where I dream up and make my works. My friend built this space for me a few years ago. I collected many recycled materials, including windows and doors, etc. I then did a lot of sanding and painting to bring them back to life. This is something I love to do; find old things and give them a new life. I also do this with clothing: I find something in a great fabric, cut it up and sew it back together as a new piece.
I found building a house to be a beautiful creative process from designing, choosing colours, and then filling it with all the things I love; lots of textiles, rugs and baskets, which I collect along my travels from various markets and op shops.
I love working with ceramics as I can paint and draw on the surface of the clay and also press various textures and patterns from fabrics into it, bringing together my passion for textiles and art into something that is also practical.
When choosing my materials to work with, I go for natural ones that have a tactile feel, and before I start, they evoke a response in me, including natural clays, raw linen and indigo dyes.
Use of colour, earthy hues and subtle shades, is of great importance in my work and one of my favourite parts. Sometimes I use very minimal colour to bring focus to the patterns and textures.
Nature is one of the central motifs in your practice, from animals to botanicals, and your work feels very earthy in general. Can you speak to this connection between the natural world and your creativity?
Absolutely, nature is so important to me on lots of levels. I have always felt a strong connection to nature, and growing up in the blue mountains I would always be amongst it. When I lived in Sydney, I missed this, so I would try and create my own natural environment. My balconies and rooms would be filled with pot plants to create that green feeling. Nature not only inspires me with its earthy colours and patterns but also by the way it impacts my emotions; this is what I express through my work.
You mention that you also draw inspiration from the arts of various traditional cultures- which ones in particular, and what are some of the similarities (or differences) you found in the way these cultures think about art?
I draw inspiration from African and Japanese traditional cultures in particular. Art is a way of life in these cultures, it's not separate to their everyday; it's all one. I like to bring my art into everything I do, from cooking to getting dressed. I also like my everyday objects to be visually pleasing as well as practical.
All of the arts - whether musical or sculptural - were deeply woven into these cultures and the way they connected with one another. This also played a central role in binding together the community. I would like to bring this sense of community into my work more, at present I usually create my work in my studio in solitude, and I find this can be isolating at times. I would therefore like to work more on collaborations with other creatives, to enable us to inspire each other.
Who and what are your muses, and why?
My muses include Salvador Dali, he brings imagination to art like no one else! I love this. In my work I love to use our natural world and then bring in an element of fantasy and imagination. This can be seen in my works where I have musical instruments which morph into animals.
But nature is the ultimate muse for me, with its ever-evolving colours, patterns, shapes and beauty; it always seems to have something to show or teach me.
What advice would you give to other souls who want to explore their own unique expression?
Some advice I would give to others who want to explore their own unique expression is to have fun and explore mediums and subjects that make them excited and passionate. Creativity often comes in waves for me, try not to get disheartened when it doesn’t flow- sometimes it just takes time to come to the surface.
Yolanda El khouri is an Australian visual artist and designer.
Across a range of creative platforms, painting, drawing textiles and ceramics Yolanda creates detailed orientated works with a natural sensitivity. Music and nature are her two great sources of inspiration. The peace and happiness found in these are reflected in the delicacy of the colours and shapes she uses.
Yolanda takes a mindful approach to objects of everyday life. By simplifying and using limited colour palettes, she draws the viewer into certain subtleties that otherwise would go unnoticed within these details a space can be found. Colour is an intuitive part of Yolanda’s painting practice. Her works emit a light, ethereal mood which instantly brings peace and relaxation to the space they inhabit.
You can find Yolanda's works on her website or follow her on Instagram.
+ + THE MUSE SPOKE is a mini-interview series with inspiring humans that embody soulful creative self-expression. + +