In conjunction with the exhibition Quiet Places, we asked artist Bev Ellis to share with us a bit about herself, her inspiration, her audience and her other projects. In this interview, Bev tells us about her passion for nature and its elements and how they are front and centre in her practice.
Quiet Places will be on view at the CCBC gallery until September 29, 2022.
Bev has been working with clay for over 25 years. Her skills in drawing, painting and printmaking inform the detailed surfaces of her sculptures. For Bev, spending time in nature is where she finds inspiration, and sculpting an opportunity to explore life’s intricate complexities. Different clays are chosen for each sculpture base on their properties, they are slab built, and layered with textures. In this meditative process, each piece is hand carved utilizing the different stages of drying to incise marks.
Please tell us about yourself: your journey as an artist, your creative process and what you are passionate about.
Currently I’m sculpting mostly tree and nature inspired sculptures from clay, though I enjoy many forms of art, including drawing, painting, printmaking and metalsmithing. Along my artist journey, I created a jewellery line sold in stores across Canada. I’ve created public, private and corporate commissions. My artwork has decorated television sets, I’ve painted for live audiences in auditoriums, a stadium, University and T.V.
My art has been published in journals, magazines and books, including the National Book for Clay week, The Crafted Dish, and a book of one hundred Vancouver creatives called, WeMakeStuff. Represented by several galleries, I have exhibited my artwork throughout the Province, across Canada, and in the US. My artwork is in corporate and private collections around the world. I was the Winner of the SSICA Ceramics Biennial Peoples Choice Award, and a large-scale Ceramic Installation for VanCity.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I have always been interested in art, from the first moment I taught myself to draw. I thought most about wanting to create and learn more techniques so that I could make art in a variety of ways. Deciding in my early 20’s to pursue studying art in University was my first big commitment in this direction.
What emotional response do people have when they view your work or hold it in their hands?
My ceramic sculpture has a hyper realistic quality. Often people think I have used real tree bark. I notice their care in handling the sculpture and I see the spark of wonder as they touch the surface and examine whether their eyes are deceiving them. Some of my sculptures are bolder in their departure from nature. Some examples of created visual interruptions are my large ornamental tea pots, or rectangular shaped sculptures, brightly coloured interiors or the use of 22K gold to highlight Fungi in the Adorned Collection.
What do you do when you are not creating? Does it feed your practice?
Currently I am packaging a large ceramic installation to ship to the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery for the Voices exhibition that will take place this fall. I am working on creating new artwork for galleries, and several custom commission pieces. I spend time sketching and painting, drawing and printmaking, reading, writing and planning new artwork. I give Artist talks and teach workshops in Galleries, Community Centres, schools and at teachers’ professional development Conferences. I value working with a variety of people and I am excited to pass on skills and techniques and the encouraging joy of art. I continue to take courses to learn new techniques and art forms.
When I’m not in the studio, I explore trails, finding pleasure and parallels for humanity in the wood’s connected ecosystems. I view these walks like a treasure hunt. I’m looking for new types of fungi, lichen and moss that I haven’t seen before, and finding beauty in brokenness and decay. I have always loved taking pictures. I snap photos to reference later as a form of field notes. These nature walks fuel my practice with inspiration.
An accomplished ceramic sculptor, Bev was the recent winner of the Surrey Art Gallery Association Clay Competition, Winner of the SSICA Ceramics Biennial People’s Choice Award, and a large scale Ceramic Installation for Vancity. Bev enjoys creating highly textured surfaces with clay. Her favourite muse is nature, where often beauty is found in brokenness. Burned out trees, and layers of peeling bark, bear a common thread of beautiful imperfection. Her sculptural forms have a realistic quality, drawing the viewer into forest textures of bark and fungi.