Artist: Ellen Clarke-Quy
Goldsmiths student Ellen Clarke-Quy is best known for embroideries; hoops featuring moths of all shapes, sizes and colours, each laborious stitch combining into a beautiful realistic interpretation. Her craft always has a deep connection to sewing, stitching, embroidery; a traditionally female, “home economics” practice. Yet it brings to mind the feeling of mending, healing, of stitching up a wound. Always close to nature, her work combines both the body, it’s struggle between self-acceptance and empowerment, and the environment; moss, shells, stones and pebbles. The balance between the body and the space it inhabits, the homes it builds, it’s comforts, it’s rituals. Clarke-Quy’s work often touches on anxiety, on feeling, on mental health - yet the softness of pieces such as anxiety blanket (2019) makes you feel somewhat comforted. It mimics both how deep issues can be overlooked in places where it is celebrated (think, the manic pixie dream girl who has her own struggles but they are overlooked as that is part of her character) and how we can feel comfortable by sharing our anxieties, and can still build a home in our bodies even if at times they seem to be battling against us.
Despite not being spiritual herself, Clarke-Quy’s interest in traditional witchcraft seeps through into her pieces; the feeling of a deeper meaning, a connection to plants and the environment, a consideration of nature and how we can interact with it. With grandparents living in Cornwall, the area has become very close to her and her work, it’s artistic roots as an area providing a constant source of inspiration, and becoming a place to think and clear the mind during periods of artist’s creative block. Cornwall is also a deeply magical place, home to many practicing witches and the root of several fairy tales and folklore, such as Cornish Pixies. Works such as Offering (2019) feel like homage to this place and the creatures imagined to inhabit it; coasts, coves and caves, shrines and offerings, like The Borrower’s collections…small natural finds sit like gifts, taken from Clarke-Quy’s inspirations but respectfully; a prized collection. Humble and grateful.
Words: Ellie Connor-Phillips