Artist Showcase - Elaine Boylan
“Being an artist can be a very solitary activity. We are probably all a little crazy with our fascinations and obsessions. We spend a lot of time inside our own head. It’s important to have connections with like-minded people. Discussing ideas can help to crystallise them. Sometimes intentions only become clear when they are said out loud. Other artists often see things in your work that you don’t.”
And in these few words Elaine Boylan summed up why we started Bodrum Art Collective (BAC).
Four members of BAC visited the home of Elaine and her husband John this week and I think I speak for all of us by saying how jealous we were. We are all making do with studio space that has been converted from other uses but Elaine has had the chance to build a work space from scratch and we all came away with ideas of how we can improve our own studios.
Elaine is working towards an exhibition but she took time to answer a few questions for us.
Q. What's your background?
I was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1965. I have a degree in textile design. That was an accident as I thought I was going to study fashion design and didn’t realise fashion and textiles were two related but separate things. The only way to study fashion on my course was to specialise in knitwear. Knitting machines and me didn’t get on, so I specialised in printed textiles and this started a lifelong love of pattern.
When I graduated, I went to London and worked in the studio of renowned textile designer, Pat Albeck, and briefly for Zandra Rhodes. When I returned to Glasgow I rented a studio with a close friend and worked freelance. We sold designs for interior and fashion textiles in the UK, Europe, USA and Asia. Looking for something new, I went into teaching. I taught in secondary schools in Scotland for 24 years.
John and I took early retirement in 2021 and moved to Gümüşlük, where we have had a house for several years. This has given me time and space for my artwork and writing.
Q. Does living in Bodrum influence or impact on your art?
There is something magical about Bodrum. I think it is a very ‘arty’ place. The light here is brighter and more harsh, so details disappear and scenes become more stark and simplified.
My colour palette has completely changed. When I made art in Scotland, my colours tended to be subdued and neutral. Here, I want to use more vibrant colours. I am inspired by nature; in our garden and on daily walks with the dogs. I am inspired by patterns. I collect patterned ceramics to use in my artwork. I also notice patterns in everyday scenes around the peninsula, like washing lines, textiles, and signage.
Q. What is the biggest challenge of being an artist?
The biggest challenge is getting started and not letting life get in the way too much.
Q. What's the best thing about being an artist?
The best things are days of hyper-focus when the hours fly past, working in the studio with my playlists on, the excitement of new art supplies, preparing surfaces and the possibilities suggested, the obsession of a new idea.
Q. What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working towards an exhibition at Hey Joe in Konacik. The opening is on Tuesday 5th December and the exhibition runs until Saturday 16th December.
I’ve been working on a series of new paintings and mixed media pieces. I will also include some textile pieces. The work is based on still life, botanicals, landscape and built environment inspired by time spent in Bodrum and Istanbul.
Q. Do you want others to get what you're saying with your art?
I think each viewer has their own personal response so the artist’s intent is only part of the dynamic.
Q. Is the end result more important than the process? Or are they equal?
Both are important. I love the anticipation of beginnings, the planning, the research. After that, I have the end result visualised, fully formed, in my mind. I think this comes from my design background.
Then it’s a process to get there - the ‘messy middle’ stage. Sometimes I discover something interesting during the process and deviate from the plan. For example, I really didn’t like what I’d done with a recent painting so I took it to the sink intending to scrub it all off. I had just started when I accidentally created an effect I loved. So I stopped scrubbing and incorporated the effect. At the end, I’m often surprised by what I’ve created (in a good way).
Q. How do you share your work with others?
I am really bad at this! I am an introvert and really don’t enjoy putting myself out there. I know that I need to work on this. My current goal is to post on Instagram and my longer term goal is to create a website. I am also looking for more exhibition and gallery opportunities here and in the UK.
Q. How important is it to have other artists to talk with?
Other artists can pick up on patterns and themes. For example, I thought my new mixed media work was radically different to a collection of textile pieces I did earlier. However, several connections were pointed out to me, such as recurring motifs and similarities in the line work and, of course, the preoccupation with pattern. I have some artist friends who are also my accountability buddies. Sue Dunlop from the Bodrum Art Collective has been brilliant at checking in on my progress and encouraging me when I hit the buffers.
Q. Who are your biggest artistic influences?
Contemporary artists whose work I love include Karen Stamper, Jean Martin, Barbara Rae, Emma Davis, and Emmie van Biervliet. I have been discovering the work of some Turkish artists. I love Hüseyin Yıldırım’s use of colour and Levent Oyluçtarhan’s surreal compositions bursting with pattern. My favourite Turkish artist is Selda Salman Acar, who is a creative photographer. I first saw her work at Bodrum Art Fair. Her multilayered pieces are inspired by history and mythology. I get lost in them and see new things each time I look. Her work actually inspires my writing more than my art, but that is a story for another time …