Julie Ellis graduated from Plymouth College of Art in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Painting, Drawing & Printmaking. She has been a resident artist at Ocean Studios since 2015 and currently has a solo show, ‘Earth & Air: The Episodic Memory of Place’, at Ocean Studios Gallery.
Students from Plymouth College of Art helped to install and invigilate at the show, which runs until 17 February 2017. We caught up with Julie Ellis about her work, how it represents notions of place and the role Ocean Studios has played in her success so far. Plus we heard from third-year BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking student Ratna Saksena about her experience of putting the show together.
Can you tell me about your new exhibition?
JE: ‘Earth and Air’ explores autobiographical notions of place through paintings which have an ambiguous quality, inviting the viewer to bring their own interpretation. I work with oil paint using my imagination, associated with places which I have experienced alongside memories of my own past.
"Julie was very generous with her time and advice, offering so much insight into the different aspects involved in launching an exhibition." – Third-year BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking student Ratna Saksena
This body of work represents my practice since leaving Plymouth College of Art last summer. This time has been purely materials led for me — I've enjoyed painting every day and feel that I am still learning so much through the intuitive making process.
How did you begin working in Ocean Studios and what has the space meant for your work and career?
JE: I approached Ocean studios at the beginning of the second year of my BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking degree. I wanted to have my own studio space and it was important to be somewhere that I could continue to be around other artists and creatives, and Ocean Studios have been very supportive.
What involvement did our current students have with the show and how did that come about?
JE: This is the first time I have taken complete control of my own exhibition from planning, curation, publicising and funding. When writing my proposal for the ‘Earth & Air’ exhibition I wanted to share this valuable experience with the students at the college.
"Ocean Studios have been very supportive." – Julie Ellis
When I put this to Stephen (Stephen Felmingham, BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking Programme Leader) he supported the idea. The students have taken a leading role in the decision-making process, as well as the curation and installation of the show. They've also helped with invigilation, which is ongoing.
As a graduate, what advice would you give to any current BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking students?
JE: The course is rich in teaching, I learned so much about processes and materials in my three years. You should take it all in and allow it to develop in your own creative way. Make the most of it, soak it up. If you absorb yourself and look for opportunities, it is so fulfilling and rewarding.
Do you have any plans for after the current show?
JE: I have three group shows before the summer and a solo show in the autumn to work towards. I also have a very exciting commission that I’m about to start working on.
Third-year BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking student Ratna Saksena was one of a group of students chosen by Julie to help with ‘Earth & Air’. She was also one of the organisers of The Art Students Convention 2017, a student convention designed to raise awareness of society's need for the arts and to explore the theme of creative education.
Talking about her experience working with Julie Ellis, Ratna said: "Julie came to talk at the college about work for her upcoming show, including giving us some background on what Ocean Studios is and how it is set up. During her talk she outlined areas that volunteers could get involved in, like curating, invigilating, collecting feedback and publicity. We had the opportunity to volunteer in any of these areas, with the amount of time given being offset against the opportunity of our own workshop time in Ocean Studios."
"I helped to hang paintings and assist with arrangements for the private view, as well as invigilating while the exhibition was open. Julie was very generous with her time and advice, offering so much insight into the different aspects involved in launching an exhibition."
"Julie was very approachable, organised and valued all of our contributions. I was impressed by her approach, attitude and professionalism. Above all, it was good for me to see a former student of the college so successfully curating her own solo show."
- Find out more about our BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking programme.
- Top tips: Programme leaders give their advice on preparing for your interview at the college.
- Making Learning – read about the college's takeover of Tate Modern.