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In Conversation: Ellie Malin

Colour can have a profound effect on how we feel. It is inherently attached to emotion and experience, and we devour it consciously and sub-consciously everyday.

This is not lost on artist Ellie Malin – even the slightest nuances in colour captivate her, and feed her work like nothing else. Interested in “how colours react to each other and then finding new ways of bringing them together”, Malin has an innate understanding of colour, and her paintings and prints illustrate exactly that.

As our Artist in Focus, Malin presents nine original paintings deepening her exploration into colour, light and form, and here on the journal she tells us about where her affinity for colour stems from.

Artist Ellie Malin's new body of work - presented as part of her Artist in Focus series - continues her exploration of form and, most importantly, colour.

Your work demonstrates a bold use of colour and geometric form – did you have a specific inspiration for this new body of work?

I feel like this new body of work is an extension to previous studies of form and colour. I love how colour has a way of communicating, and its evocative capacity to express the interiors of ones mind and heart.

Colours are at the heart of what I do – they make me wonder how present day influences merge with memories. For example, the inviting swimming pool of turquoise waters during a childhood holiday; watching the sun set from my apartment when the skies are filled with pink and lilac hues; a cool concrete ground whilst working in a dull grey warehouse; and the welcoming shade of an olive tree on a hot summers day.

Malin's affinity for colour seeps into many aspects of her everyday life, and in turn inspires her work as an artist.
She is particularly interested in how colours react to each other, and finding new ways to combine them.

You’ve previously described your travels as essential to your appreciation of art and design – have you had to adjust your approach in this time of travel restrictions and closed boarders? Or do you find you can continue to gain insight reflecting on past journeys?

Over time, travel has played a key role in my work and elements from living abroad still resurface today. It’s as though the memories of place and time unwittingly reveal themselves through the work.

Recently, with COVID and raising a young family I’ve come to rely on my immediate surroundings. Inspiration is everywhere. I recall a wise art tutor saying that ‘art is at your feet’, a sentiment I hold close! It could be a walk through my local botanical gardens where I discover new plants and revisit old favourites; it might be the colour of a eucalyptus trunk after rainfall; or the subtle way light shifts throughout the day that can change the appearance of a colour completely. These things are really quite captivating to me.

"Colours are at the heart of what I do – they make me wonder how present day influences merge with memories," Malin says.
I love how colour has a way of communicating, and its evocative capacity to express the interiors of ones mind and heart.”
— Ellie Malin

You have collaborated with a number of brands over the years, both locally and internationally, what draws you to these projects and how do you feel they impact your practice?

Over the years I’ve had incredible opportunities to work with a number of local and international designers with a history of collaborating with artists. Working across disciplines and alongside brilliantly minded people has influenced my practice profoundly.

For one, it’s opened my studio – which for the most part is quite solitary – and has allowed me to connect with a broader community. And secondly, it gives me a new perspective on my work. I get so excited seeing someone wear one of my prints on the street and I love that it brings joy to someone’s everyday life.

Malin describes her practice, saying: "Through an introspective process I apply layer upon layer, purposely revealing and concealing information beneath the surface."
Travel has always played a key role in my work; it’s as though the memories of place and time unwittingly reveal themselves through the work.”
— Ellie Malin
Geometric forms resembling architectural constructs are offset by softer elements nodding to nature.

If you could collaborate with any artist (living or deceased) who would it be and why?

There are so many! I’d love to collaborate with Finnish brand Marimekko. I’m inspired by their iconic, bold, colourful patterns and ability to translate an artwork across multiple design objects and furnishings.

The American sculptor, Alexander Calder also inspires me with his sense of colour, movement and humour. And of course, Matisse, for his revolutionary use of colour, simplicity in his use of materials and playful compositions.

In this particular body of work, colours merge and intersect in surprising combinations - both soothing and exciting.

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