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Say hello to Ella Louise Jones!

Ella is a Welsh artist, currently based in Manchester, and creates installations, sculptures, and costumes centred on creating tangible interactions between audience and artwork. Ella began her artist's residency with us last year and is back this week to exhibit her work and run an exciting free workshop over in the Grand Arcade. She created an intriguing sculpture in her residency project which will be displayed for the public to interact with and explore.

We had a chat with Ella to find out more about her practice and hear all about how she creates her unique sculptures!


Tell us about what you do:

I create installations, sculptures, and costumes centred on kinaesthetic learning, learning through bodily movement, and creating tangible interactions between the audience and artwork. Science and psychology inform my work on touch from the macro to the micro, from touch therapies and sensory rooms to the workings of touch receptors in the brain. Recent projects include the Playwork commission, TY PAWB, Wrexham (2022), Tibro Yalp, g39, Cardiff (2022), Wellcome Collection's Mitochondrial Research Artist in Residence (2020-2021).

I'm interested in haptic, which is the ability to feel what the eyes can't see. It is to feel the weight of an object, its material, the texture of its unfamiliar surface, and its temperature. Each person experiences touch differently, the same as any other sense. Touch is a problem in galleries making the audience a pinball and avoiding being too close to the artwork. I believe that with technological advances, our touch opportunities are growing but this is mostly only to touch a screen or device. The chance to feel different fabrics and materials has become scarce with online shopping growing, and play is a thing that happens more in online games. Therefore, I want to create a space for sensory play to evolve, to feel textures such as latex bobbles and silicone wobbly legs combined with warm yarn, soft velvet, or soft metallic colours.

What made you want to do the residency at Wigan STEAM?

I wanted to work with Wigan STEAM because I was impressed with their fantastic program of public engagement and running workshops, and working with artists, and I wanted to work with them. The residency was in the back of The Fire Within gallery space. This big space allowed me plenty of floor space to paint my latex material onto a cast on the floor. I enjoyed working in this space and had the chance to speak to amazing curators and invigilators running exciting art programs and activities in Wigan. The residency also gave me the time, studio space and financial support to produce a large-scale work I couldn't have made otherwise.

Tell us about your residency project. What was your inspiration? Did you try any new techniques? What was the process of creating your interactive work?

During the residency, I made a cylinder-shaped soft 'chair'. It was created as a tube of bright pink latex, stuffed with wadding and covered in short blunt rubbery spikes. I want to exhibit the sculptures to see public interaction with my work. I'm curious about how people interact and perceive these strange alien shapes. I want to make colourful and playful sculptures with the same pallet as marshmallow sweets, nursery toys and textiles. These sickly-sweet colours will attract vision and feeling. I'm hoping that the harmless and innocent colours of the sculptures will make the odd textures and surfaces palatable, 'sugar-coating' unfamiliar surfaces and materials, making them intriguing.

I see this becoming an installation that welcomes the audience to sit and feel the work. Hopefully, audience members would unconsciously begin feeling the rubbery spikes. The sculpture's texture came from a photo of a spiky nineteenth-century bear hunting outfit, acupuncture therapies, how starfish walk and 3d cellular images. My practice focuses on public engagement for all communities driven by creating tactile, playful, fun and humorous occasions to encounter sculpture.

To make the sculpture, I painted layers and layers of dyed pink latex over earplugs and peeled off the latex. I could then stitch it and use it as a fabric that could be stuffed and made into a 3D object.

What do you want people to take away after they have seen or interacted with your work?

I want people to interact with the work and have a sensory experience. The audience can touch, poke, grab, hold, smell and embrace the soft sculptures. I don't want to be the last person to interact with my work; I would like the sculpture to be accessible, getting people to explore the feeling of different materials and fabric.

Tell us about your workshop:

In the 'make a squishy sculpture' workshop, families are free to drop in and pick a squishy sculpture. The squishy shape will be stuffed with pillow inserts and can be decorated on the day with fabric pens and gels to make your squishy shape designed with unique patterns, drawings and colours.

The workshop is running on 22nd & 23rd October, between 11am & 3pm at the Grand Arcade in Wigan Town Centre. It's completely free to drop in and take part in the activity!

You can find more information about it here.

Where can people find you if they want to get involved with your work after your residency?

You can find me on Instagram @ellalouisejones_celf or my website

Part of Wigan STEAM’s Residency Programme, funded by GMCA.

The 'make a squishy sculpture with Ella Louise Jones' event is part of Let’s Create Art with Engage, to shine a light on the value of visual arts engagement. #LetsCreateArt2022


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