Ellie Mawby


My current practice revolves around the crossing of cultures and combining drawings with a strong influence from traditional Japanese art. With the use of Indian ink, 0.3 fine liners, marker pens, graphite pencil, wax crayons and watercolours, my art floats between the intimacy of the process of drawing — intricate, delicate, working close to the surface — and the distance of foreign influence. The compelling element of understanding Japan, and its significant differences of culture, and combining with my knowledge from the West offers me a unique insight into the cross-pollination of countries. The experience of being in foreign place is a euphoric experience and gives a heightened awareness of senses. 


The absence of colour within my work is stem from the elegance and simplicity of the colour black along with it’s association with magic; loaded with symbolism, power and mysticism. Black offers varying tones and depths within my artwork and gives volume to the otherwise quiet and sensitive drawings that I produce. In contrast, white is also an important element to my work, as I vary between white ink on black or black ink on white, utilising the concept of blank space. In Japanese, the word ma is used to describe the pause and the space between two structural parts within an artwork. It is said that ma is not something that is created by compositional elements, instead it is the thing that takes place in the imagination of the human who experiences these elements.

There is a fascination I have encountered with other Japanese beliefs, particularly mono no aware; ‘the pathos of things’; the gentle wistfulness at the transience of things, as well as wabi sabi; an object or artwork that gives a sense of ‘serene melancholy and a spiritual longing,’ a philosophy that an ideal of beauty could be found in detail, the natural, and the humble from what, at first glance, may have been considered as ugly or unrefined.

My method in my work is based on the serendipitous, the incidental and the elapsed. Aleatory - relying on chance or an uncontrolled element in the details of life or in the creation of art –- gives an accurate definition to describe my personal creative process. While the creating process is often arbitrary and unplanned, I reflect on my outcomes subsequently; a methodical self-evaluation of analysing repetition, recurring leitmotifs, how I can evolve and progress within my practice, what can be enriched and enhanced. 

As our daily lives are often overwhelmed with sensual stimulations, my work offers a sense of peacefulness to engage the viewer to ponder about the simplest stroke of black ink, the intricate marks or traces of lines.