For the second instalment of the Cone Artist Spotlight /\ we caught up with London based photography student Elyse Kennedy.
As for any artist, making that initial start on a new project always seems to be the hardest. Torn in the middle of procrastination and wanting to produce something that ultimately you’ll look back on an not instantly pick out area’s where you ‘could have done better’. Elyse, however, shares how her laid back attitude towards her work is often how the best things are produced, “I’ll usually have an idea of the kind of project that I want to produce, as well as how it will finally look like, but i’m pretty open to experimenting with different techniques and ideas before I feel like a piece is finished.”
“I don’t think any final piece i’ve created is how I would have imagined it to look like, but thats what I like, not knowing how something will turn out.”
Elyse’s striking architectural style of work allows her to explore space, pattern and shape without the limits and boundaries of what physics will allow in terms of function as well as form. In a series of photography based collages entitled Barbican she explores the idea of “materiality” surrounding the brutalist building. “There are so many different elements that make up the barbican, as well as a range of different materials that were actually used to construct and finish the estate, that I wanted to portray this ‘materiality’ by collaging different sections together.”
Photography has (i believe) the greatest influence of illustration towards an idea. A single well taken shot can instantly portray a variety of emotions or ideas that Elyse capitalises on with her still maturing style. Her series of Brighton Postcards flips the traditional idea on its head and instead focuses on a near-by construction site, captured in compelling beauty it doesn’t make you miss the drip-fed images of the Brighton pier but instead encourages the viewer to open their eyes more to their surroundings to discover what else they could be missing on their doorstep.
What are your main inspirations before creating a piece of work or a series of works?
I am inspired by a whole range of things from architecture, to illustration as well as being inspired by my friends too. I’ll usually have an idea of the kind of project that I want to produce, as well as how it will finally look like, but i’m pretty open to experimenting with different techniques and ideas before I feel like a piece is finished. I don’t like planning projects extensively, I like to just see where it takes me creatively. I don’t think any final piece i’ve created is how I would have imagined it to look like, but thats what I like, not knowing how something will turn out.
What was the initial aim behind the Barbican series?
The whole idea behind the Barbican series was to explore ‘materiality’. The final photographic digitally collaged images were presented on flat canvas paper to make the piece more textural. The Barbican is such a great example of how brutalist architecture can be so visually engaging. There are so many different elements that make up the barbican, as well as a range of different materials that were actually used to construct and finish the estate, that I wanted to portray this ‘materiality’ by collaging different sections together. Photographs traditionally are a flat 2d object, but I wanted to give the collages a sense of depth by layering images to show how architecturally, the barbican is full of different elements. So I guess my aim was to visually describe this, without actually verbally explaining.
Would you say that living in London has effected the style of your work? If so how?
Yes I would say that it has. I grew up in a town in Surrey with easy access to London whenever I wanted to visit, so it’s not like I never had experienced a big city before I moved, but since living here I feel like i’ve become much more of an artistically open person. I’m fortunate to have such easy access to inspiring places, galleries as well as being surrounded by a lot of creative people, that ideas that inspire me now, maybe wouldn’t have before. I’m a very particular person with what I like and dislike, but when you’re exposed to so many visual ideas I think its hard to not become more ‘open’ and consider doing projects, that I wouldn’t have considered doing before. I’ve always been interested in architectural photography, and London is such a great diverse place to explore as well as how culturally diverse it is too. I think no matter where I lived I’d still have the same interests and style, but perhaps would be more limited as I wouldn’t have a range of different visual stimulations all the time.
In the Brighton Postcard series why did you choose to show the construction side of the old pier instead of the normal tourist attractions?
With this project I wanted to explore the ‘truth and fiction’ side of tourism. Postcards are more often than not, used to show ‘the best of’ a location or holiday destination, rather than what is also there. Therefore, I wanted to show the sides of Brighton that other postcards don’t illustrate. I focused on areas that people would probably not give a second glance to, that are right next to the most classically photographed landmarks, such as the Brighton eye and The pier. The area in front of the old burnt pier is undergoing a huge redevelopment to create a 170 meter tall observation tower, so consequently there is a lot of building work underway in this location. I was really drawn to photographing this because I loved the visual comparison of the building materials next to the sea. I wanted to show how not is all what it seems to be when it comes to traditional postcards, so gave this project a surrealist element by digitally duplicating and manipulating certain elements of each photograph. From first glance each of my postcards look like quite a standard image of a location, but there is more to them than that.
If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
I wanted to be an Architect from a really young age, I love the sense that someone could live and habitate in a space that you had designed, however, after studying Architecture at university for a period of time I decided that it wasn’t for me. I’d love to refurbish properties later in life, and this is something that I ultimately am aiming to do, but many people have been successful in doing this without completing a 7 year architecture degree, so I dropped out. Photography has been a hobby of mine for a long time, and I thought it would be cool if I could try and make a living out of a hobby and something that I feel at ease doing, so here I am.