Don’t miss Peter Ellis’ artist talk regarding his exhibition ‘A Head In A Hive Of Bees’ at RMIT Gallery, from 12.30-1.30 pm on Thursday 1 August 2013.
Bizarre animal forms, hybrid creatures inhabiting seemingly irrational psychological spaces. These are the images that have permeated the artist’s drawings for over 38 years.
In his catalogue essay, Ellis tells author and artist Dr Peter Hill “The use of microscopic minutiae of the animal kingdom is very important to me. I have a long history of the use of animal imagery in my work.”
Dr Hill writes that in his body of work, Ellis has created a wonderful link between the outer reaches of the animal kingdom, literary fiction, and the foibles of the human condition.
Ellis explains his interest in Surrealism: “I have been an obsessive image-maker for well over 35 years and have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of objects and images which I translate into multiple configurations in works that contain seemingly disparate elements.
My longstanding association with Dada and Surrealist thought has from my formative years, encouraged the view that art can be made from anything and that there is great potential in image association in particular irrational and dream like imagery. The legacy of Surrealism on my work is evident.
As a philosophy the surrealists investigated all aspects of life and took inspiration from chance, science, ephemera, children’s art, detective novels, and esoteric and populist literature. This philosophy has enabled me to exist as an anxious explorer forever on the look out for new discoveries.”
Dr Hill writes:
“Like many artists, Peter incorporates collage into his drawings. And this element, this “collage principle” that influences so much of his work and that of many contemporary image-makers, is found in “the estrangement of the original material itself and the neutralization of our habitual responses to it”.
Ellis, an Associate Professor in Fine Art at the RMIT School of Art, ponders this. “Chance is not a neutral but a distinctly positive force,” he continues, as we approach the end of a pile of drawings as big as three stacked phone books.
“It’s been a delight to have such a guided tour of his imagination – like watching a wonderful film, frame by frame, and having the director beside you to point out all the bit players, as well as the stars – the whales and the elks, the crazy bears, the oysters, and of course the fleas. “
* Photos by Mark Ashkanasy, RMIT Gallery, 2013.
Extract of catalogue essay by Dr Peter Hill. The catalogue – “A Head In A Hive Of Bees” is available at RMIT Gallery.
A Head in A Hive Of Bees, RMIT Gallery, until 17 August 2013.