Workbox Introduction: Ella Robinson

'Hugh' 2010. Plastic tubing & driftwood. Photo: The Beetroot Tree Gallery Derby
The temperature may have cooled a little in England over the past week as Autumn makes it's presence felt but we can promise you more vibrant colour and warmth than you can shake a fallen stick at in this week's Workbox Introduction. 
Please welcome to the stage the workboxes of the artist and RCA postgraduate, Ella Robinson.
Ella's work is guaranteed to cheer up even the dullest of days as it targets the senses; driftwood pieces which evoke sunwarmed skin and the smell of the sea, memories unlocked from domestic ephemera found in the street and smile-raising rays of plastic tubing caught and bound into rainbows.  
'One Little Lie' 2011. Found beach plastics & glass.
 In her own words,
"I am an artist whose practice seizes the potential of found objects. I work mainly with driftwood and other found beach materials, such as plastics and ceramics but have recently begun to work with metallic items and fragments found within the urban environment. I create interior and exterior pieces and accessories that exploit my love of vibrant colour and graphic pattern. I am inspired by the British coast but my bold palettes are more reminiscent of street art and graffiti colour ways."

Ella's interest in experimenting with found materials began as a teenager when she discovered that she prefered to work creatively in 3d rather than in painting or drawing, when she was just as likely to turn to skip-found wood or material scraps rather than to a pencil. This led to a degree and postgraduate qualification in mixed media textiles. The 'textiles' bit of Ella's practice has been broadly interpreted to marry traditionally associated techniques such as handstitching and binding with the use of power tools and beefier fabrics such as wood, metal and plastic. Ella's curiosity about the properties of the materials she uses is clearly evident. 
You may already have guessed that Ella's workbox isn't going to be a small wicker basket affair!

Above: Magpie tendancies? Collections of found objects which Ella picks up on her travels waiting to be repurposed.  

We asked Ella whether her 'finds' dictated the final piece of work or if she went out foraging for specific items?
"Whilst out beach combing or on my day to day travels about the streets I will often find something that interests me and then I will go on to collect these particular things. This is what happened with the squashed metallic tops of lighters, the golf balls, bouncy balls, sea ravaged (sun)glasses and the cigarette lighters themselves. I will keep my eyes peeled for particular things that I want to pick up, and once I have a good enough stock of these then I can make a piece. I come across a lot of things that I'm currently not interested in collecting, but over time I find different things exciting." 

Above: a selection of  beautifully worn pieces of driftwood from Ella's collection, and below, examples of what they could be transformed into.   
'Greens & Blues' 2010. Stranded cotton & driftwood
'Love & Hope' 2010. Stranded cotton & driftwood

"Initially I just began collecting driftwood but then I realised that I might as well be picking up the fragments of plastic that I was finding as well as I spent so much time collecting the driftwood it made it worthwhile to collect something else as well. Plus as the plastic was colourful it made my beachcombing a little bit more exciting, and I would often laugh at my finds!"
Integral to Ella's practice is her use of colour. It's juicy, it's bold and she's not afraid to use it! It makes sense therefore that artists such as Sonia Delaunay and Henri Matisse are of inspiration. So too, contemporary artists Jim Lambie and Sean Scully, who are also unfraid to make use of bold colour or inventive ways with their material!  
Pillar drill which sits within an old school desk

 You may have noticed that holes or voids are recurring motifs in Ella's work? On the left is the bad-boy machine, or pillar drill to be exact, which Ella uses to make them.  Below, you can see the exciting range of drill bits, pliers, goggles and rasps which Ella has in her tool repertoire. You'd need one heck of a wicker basket to fit that lot in, eh?
 If you follow this link HERE, you will find some photo's of Ella and drill in action at her workshop at Hope & Elvis Summer 2012.

'Scoobie' detail 2009. Plastic tubing, steel pins & driftwood

Above: Ella's collection of eye-ball searing Scoobies; hollow plastic tubes, very durable and, given Ella's handling, they make cracking stripes! 

2012 has been a busy year for Ella not only with workshops but also with exhibitions; she had a spot at the Brighton Art Fair with Hugo Mumbles Gallery only last weekend. The ecclectic piece below was made for the 'Gold, Silver & Bronze' exhibition which took place at The Shire Hall Gallery in Staffordshire over the Summer to celebrate the Olympic year. If you click HERE you can read more about it's installation.

Ella is currently preparing to take part in The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair 2012, which will run between 4th - 7th October at Spinningfields in Manchester. The perfect opportunity for you to go along and see Ella's work in person (and maybe take a piece from her driftwood accessories range home with you!).  

If you can't make it to Manchester next week you can find out more about Ella's work and forthcoming events by clicking on any of the following links:
Ella's Facebook page 

A big thank you to Ella for taking part in this Workbox Introduction - especially at such a busy time for her. All photographs belong to Ella Robinson unless stated otherwise.

'Colourful Spinners'
'Sophisticated Stripes'