Oil on herringbone linen
46 x 40 cm
20% will be donated to the NHS
Through her paintings and ceramics, Ellie MacGarry foregrounds fleeting and intimate moments involving the body and its everyday transformations.
"In public we feel watched. So we carefully, or carelessly, consider our appearance, choosing clothes, accessories and hairstyles which best suit our mood and our vocation for the day. We use these items both to conceal the parts of our bodies we most want to hide and to highlight our assets, hoping that somehow this combination of cloth and leather will personify our character. We can use this powerful tool of dressing up to slip between different settings and different versions of ourselves – choosing which mask to put on.
In private we do as we must and as we please, carrying out dull everyday acts like clipping our nails and combing our hair, and indulging in guilty lonesome pleasures like eating in bed or giving in to our bodily desires and lusts. But there is an ever-growing sense that even in these private moments we are being watched or seen, as urban populations grow in number and we increasingly share so many of our experiences, whether banal or extraordinary, with friends and strangers. We can all become performers now, if we like."
MacGarry’s work considers the self-conscious body; the inside and out, the clothing and unclothing, the desperate desire to be seen and the even more desperate desire to be hidden. From the sexy theatre of assertive undressing to the humor and embarrassment of failing coverings, the intimacy of the everyday is put at centre-stage. There is a focus on the ever-changing parts of us; our clothes, which we keenly renew for the sake of reinvention or desire, and our hair and nails which endlessly shed and renew themselves. Often at a point of transition – half-unbuttoned, mid-haircut with the snipped hairs clumping on the shoulders, the bed as yet unmade or food which is yet to be eaten – there is a sense of privacy which has been broken down. Invites are issued; the viewer is urged to look in and come closer.
Sometimes painting on textured, patterned fabric rather than canvas, MacGarry wants to draw attention to the materials of the painting in order to remind the viewer that they should not be fooled by illusions – what they are looking at is not really skin, hair or clothing, it is paint on a surface, colours next to and on top of one another.