135 artists are taking part in "Inside Job" which takes place on the 7th and 8th of April on Level 6 of Tate Modern. Over the next few weeks The Rebel Magazine will be chatting to some of the Tate staff who are showing their artwork. Today the spotlight is on Alice Ellis-Bray.
Q) Where did you grow up and what kind of education did you receive?
"Well, I was born into a highly eccentric and large family tribe. My childhood was grown living at Cape Cornwall situated near an isolated farm. The house was connected to the home where the father of eccentricity lived himself; my Grandfather Brian.
I went through a generalised, systemised education and I completed this at Arts School with a Fine Art Degree.
However, I actually feel my truest education was one born out of the restriction of school and into a more personal environment. With this I learnt my own true way of living through self reflection and without any overwhelming influence. By gifting myself with so much opportunity of finding unique exploration and purpose in my own time; I began understanding how to channel my true self; without any exterior expectation or judgement."
Q) How long have you been working at the Tate and what's the best show you've seen there?
"I’ve been working at Tate St Ives only since last year, and funnily enough the current exhibition at Tate St Ives about the ideas and work of Virginia Woolf has left me simply spellbound. I’ve become absolutely fascinated, enchanted, entranced and immersed in the show, which was beautifully curated by Laura Smith. This exhibit is most profound to me in connection to my own work because of a strong current that reflects so much within my own practice; the performance of self-identity and its ultimate connection to the psychoanalysis of self."
Q) What can you tell me about the work you're exhibiting in the Tate Modern show?
"The piece I’m exhibiting was inspired and made last year in memory of my Grandfather Brian.
Brian was a painter and Arts Professor at Portsmouth Polytechnic. After marrying a beautiful creative soul in 1959 called Patricia and having three interesting children; Patricia sadly fell ill with cancer and passed away when their youngest daughter was not yet 10. This was such a heartbreaking experience for Brian and their flourishing, prosperous children that he was left heavily alone in some way up until he died. He was also left unable even to work and with this tragic loss he was left without confidence or source of inspiration to ever find the light to paint again. You see my Grandfather Brian was an emotional painter, and how can you paint when you’ve become lost at sea to your own ocean of emotions?
This wonderfully kind and wittily theatrical man guided me into the arts world with such a unique force of energy and courage without ever staining or criticising/ critiquing anything I had to show or in anyway how I saw the world. I believe he saw in me what he’d lost in himself and so from quickly on our relationship guided us both like the sails on a boat on a deep sea of possibility. When he died in 2016 I was left his old abandoned art materials and all these odd preserved bits of canvas, paper and boards etc all growing mould and very old. But, last year, after allowing enough time to open in between my present being to his passing, I gradually began to explore through these lost tools and discovered an old bit of folded up painted canvas. It was lagged in cobwebs and smelling of Cat piss; a lost painting by Grandfather Brian, a painting he hadn’t burnt in a fire fuelled by heartbreak. I realised in this moment I needed to do something with this; I needed to turn this painting into a dress.
This costume has become a Ghost Dance Dress, conjuring up what he’d lost; returning to him the power and recognition he deserved. With his memory in mind this became A Collaboration with My Grandfather Brian.
I wore this costume as a performance with him to the opening of the Modernist exhibition at Tate St Ives last year; thus giving him his place in the show a combination of the power and love we reinforced in the other."
Q) How can people find out more about your work - do you have a website or do Instagram?
Instagram: @aliceellisbray @LamornaClothing
Q) Is there anything you have to declare / do you have a favourite quote, thought or joke you'd care to share?
"I believe we are all artists and all art is a form of identity derived purely from the expression of self. When I experience art; the art is the artist.
I feel every introduction to a piece of art is like being introduced to a new person, a new life, a new story, a new way into understanding the world and how we occupy it.
I encourage you to follow this understanding I’ve found with everything you meet."