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Celebrating 10 years of painting with alumna Julie Ellis

Artist Julie Ellis, a BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking alumna will be the subject of an upcoming exhibition at the Brownston Gallery in Modbury.
<p dir="ltr">Artist <a href="http://julieellisartist.co.uk/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Julie Ellis</a>, a <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/ba-hons-painting-drawing-printmaking">BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing &amp; Printmaking</a> alumna best known for her stunning landscape paintings, is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at the <a href="https://www.brownstonart.com/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Brownston Gallery</a> in Modbury, one of the leading contemporary fine art galleries in the South West.</p> <p dir="ltr">‘At home with Julie Ellis’ will run from 8 September to the end of the month, with a launch night on Thursday 7 September at 6pm to 8pm. The show will be a retrospective for Julie that celebrates the first ten years of her creating art full-time, combining new and old pieces, some for sale and some from her private collection and sketchbooks.</p> <p dir="ltr">Julie joined Arts University Plymouth as a mature student in 2012, completing her <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/level-0-extended-degrees">Extended BA (Hons) degree</a> with First Class honours in 2016. We sat down with Julie to find out more about what her catalyst was for returning to education, how she transitioned to become a full-time artist, and what to expect from her upcoming exhibition.</p>
Julie Ellis

Julie Ellis

<p dir="ltr">Growing up, the only thing that I excelled at was art. I spent my lunchtimes and breaks in the art room, but unfortunately I was dissuaded by the school careers advisor from pursuing a creative career. My life went in a different direction until I became a mother to three children. When my youngest daughter began settling at school and I had time to reconsider what I wanted to do with my life, a chance conversation with another mum in the playground who was more proactive than I am led me to attend an Open Day at Arts University Plymouth.<br /></p> <p dir="ltr">Following the Open Day, I signed up for an Extended Degree with a Foundation Year, initially specialising in contemporary crafts. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on but I knew that we’d cover a broad variety of materials and processes with contemporary crafts, so that seemed like a good place to start.<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">I was taught for that first year by <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/people/helen-markes">Helen Markes</a>, who still leads the <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/level-0-extended-degrees">Extended Degrees</a> at Arts University Plymouth, and she taught me so much. Helen was instrumental in the way that I use my sketchbook, marking down all of my ideas. It didn’t take long until I was feeling inspired and filled with a never ending stream of ideas. I loved experimenting and combining the new processes and materials I was discovering, but over that first year it became apparent that all of my final outcomes were two-dimensional, so that was the area that I should specialise in.</p> <p dir="ltr">I spoke to the teams leading <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/ba-hons-illustration">BA (Hons) Illustration</a> and <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/ba-hons-fine-art">BA (Hons) Fine Art</a>, but neither seemed to tick the right boxes. Then I heard that the university was preparing to launch a new course in <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/ba-hons-painting-drawing-printmaking">BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing &amp; Printmaking</a>, and that the new course leader was sitting in the library writing up the new curriculum. That course leader was <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/people/dr-stephen-felmingham">Professor Stephen Felmingham</a>, now Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at Arts University Plymouth. I took my portfolio and we sat together having a great discussion that felt so relaxed and easy, I knew this was the course for me. <br /></p>
Where we Belong

"Where We Belong" by Julie Ellis

<p dir="ltr">My first year felt like a settling-in period, figuring out what I was most interested in. I developed a practice that's a hybrid of all three skills. I would find myself drawing into paintings, painting over prints, an experimental time exploring and discovering with the new materials and processes I was faced with. Then in my second year I was offered a residency at Maker in Rame, at what was then the Rame School of Arts. There were a group of established artists there who would mentor two Arts University Plymouth students at a time.</p> <p dir="ltr">This opportunity was pivotal for me. Two of the painters, Heath Hern and Katy Brown, suggested that I might have work that galleries would be interested in selling. Up until that point I’d been making work for myself and the course and hadn’t really considered it as saleable. The following day I turned up at Maker and they’d let a local gallery owner into the space to see my work. That gallery went on to host an exhibition of my work and everything sold. After that, word began to spread.<br /></p>
If you’re reading this and thinking about taking a chance on a creative education, I hope that you do. Try something new, get your work out there and be persistent. Don’t give up.
Julie Ellis, BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking alumna
<p dir="ltr"></p> <p>I continued to sell my work and gained the interest of several galleries before graduating. I took a studio at the newly opened Ocean Studios and worked from there for four years developing my practice alongside other artists and makers. Since graduating from Arts University Plymouth I’ve had eleven solo shows and participated in around 25 group exhibitions. I’ve worked with Lympstone Manor, a Michelin star luxury hotel-restaurant led by Michael Caines, I sell work through galleries and art fairs around the country and abroad. I have recently completed a Masters in Fine Art which has helped me to develop new ideas moving forward.</p>
<p>I make work which was pulls on my memories, my family stories, second hand and misremembered narratives all held within the physical space and place, the home where I had grown and lived for most of my life. This sense of belonging had been there before I was an artist - thinking back, it was the reason for my desire to return home, to walk in my mum's footsteps as a young woman as I now live only yards from my place of birth. I began painting and drawing places. Places which had meaning to me, ambiguous, only obvious to me - not giving too much of myself away. This holding something back and openness of interpretation unexpectedly gave way to others finding their own autobiographies within my work.</p> <p>During my Master's degree I explored the power of objects to unlock narrative and memory. In the same way that I had painted reimagined landscape to evoke memory and personal histories I began painting reimagined still life. Objects, like places have the potential to ground us to a particular moment. It was a development of my fascination with personal stories and relatable experiences from the past reflecting on shared perspectives in the same way that my landscapes endeavour to. This development has broadened my practice in terms of new approaches and yet throughout runs a common thread.</p>
Road Trip Two

"Road Trip Two" by Julie Ellis

<p dir="ltr">Coming up soon I have a solo show at Brownston Gallery called ‘At home with Julie Ellis’ and it’s a retrospective for me, reflecting and celebrating ten years of painting. The work is a mixture of old and new pieces, including things like my sketchbooks that aren’t for sale but that reveal more of my creative process than I usually show. Predominantly the show will be made up of oil paintings, a lot that are place-related, but also object-inspired and more abstract pieces. I’m really excited about it.</p> <p dir="ltr">I’ll be there for the opening and I’ll be doing some live painting and drawing in the gallery on two Fridays, 15 and 22 September. I love meeting people and I love talking about my work, it’s always a pleasure to share thoughts and talk about creativity.<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">Arts University Plymouth is really special to me. From the buildings on campus to the staff at the front desk, the estates team, the academics and technical demonstrators, the smells, the equipment, the diversity, the acceptance, the support… Everything about Arts University Plymouth comes together to make an amazing place.</p> <p dir="ltr">I really enjoyed my time at AUP, I came away from the experience with new skills and ideas as well as a new found confidence and determination.</p> <p dir="ltr">If you’re reading this and thinking about taking a chance on a creative education, I hope that you do. Try something new, get your work out there and be persistent. Don’t give up.<br /></p>
Calm at Rame 2

"Calm at Rame 2" by Julie Ellis

<p dir="ltr">I do. In fact I’m hoping to arrange to come and speak to students directly during the course of the new exhibition. I enjoy sharing my experiences and hopefully encouraging others to pursue their ideas in the same way. Creative conversations like that feed both participants, the inspiration goes both ways.<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">Following ‘At home with Julie Ellis’ the Brownston Gallery will next host an exhibition of work curated by Course Leader of BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing &amp; Printmaking, <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/people/richard-kenton-webb">Richard Kenton Webb</a>, called "Paint", A celebration of the practice of painting. This includes staff of Painting, Drawing &amp; Printmaking, plus past BA and present MA students, plus practicing artists who Richard has taught in the past when teaching at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, the University of the West of England, the Royal Drawing School and others. Richard is a practising artist with over 37 years of teaching at graduate and postgraduate levels. He is represented by Benjamin Rhodes Arts in Shoreditch London and his last solo show was in April to June this year.</p> <p>Richard and invited painters will be running workshops and discussion forums on three Saturdays in October from 2pm to 4pm. Free and all welcome, please book on the Brownstone Gallery website. Meet Richard at the two open days in the morning and see the incredible studios where he teaches then enjoy a lively discussion at the Brownston Gallery in Modbury.</p> <p><strong>Saturday 30 September </strong>Opening 2-5pm<strong><br />Saturday 7 October </strong>No 1 Painting &amp; Drawing discussion. 2-4pm<strong><br />Saturday 14 October</strong> No 2 Painting &amp; colour discussion. 2-4pm<strong><br />Saturday 21 October </strong>No 3 Painting and printmaking discussion. 2-4pm.<br /></p> <p dir="ltr">Based in large, open-plan studios designed with lofted ceilings and windows that allow for northern exposure to natural light, <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/ba-hons-painting-drawing-printmaking">BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing &amp; Printmaking</a> at Arts University Plymouth specialises in the synergy of painting, drawing and fine print, bringing these practices together with a focus on colour as a conceptual and pedagogical practice. Students have gone on to establish successful art practices in Plymouth, Falmouth, St Ives, Exeter, Bristol, London and Europe, with graduates working as painters, drawing artists, printmakers, fine artists, teachers and gallery owners.<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">A limited number of <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/clearing">Clearing</a> places are still available on <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/ba-hons-painting-drawing-printmaking">BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing &amp; Printmaking</a> at Arts University Plymouth, starting as late as October 2023. If you want to begin a BA (Hons) degree or Foundation Diploma in Art &amp; Design this year, call Arts University Plymouth on <strong>+44 (0)1752 203402</strong> or Whatsapp on <strong>07722 744184</strong>.<br /></p>