Eleanor May Watson
This month we visit Renli Su girl Eleanor May Watson, her studio is based inside Lewisham Art House in South London. A converted Edwardian Baroque style library which hosts 40 artist studios and has done for the past 28 years. A vast stripped back orate space, perfect for Eleanor’s evocative paintings which depict light flooded, decadent and dream like spaces.
The depth of Eleanor’s paintings is one of a kind, her creations are reminiscent of something you would find in a museum, they have an aged familiarity. The rich tones of her work flood the lange scaled Japanese papers and in some cases create rooms of their own. Up close you'll see how the layers of printing, painting and detail form these mesmerising pieces of art.
Deptford Central Library 1914
1991-1994 Deptford Central Library is sold and converted into Lewishham Art House
Eleanor's studio 2020
I am white female British artist from West Sussex. My mum was a very creative Primary School teacher and my Dad is an enthusiastic sportsman, so I spent my childhood either making things or running about after balls. A perfect combination for someone with frantic energy.
I first met a working artist when I was 16 on a school trip and couldn’t believe that it could be a ‘job’. I have since re-met the aritst, Naomi Frears, and she apologised for sewing that particular seed. It was life affirming to meet her again as an artist myself.
I have always loved old things, and the play of light on surfaces covered in patina. I respond visually before language can touch it. I make things to work out what it is that I find alluring about them. I am usually both drawn in and a little repelled by my subjects: interested in paradox and simultaneity. For a long time my work has created circling conversations about heritage, nostalgia and the legacy of colonialism.
"For a long time my work has created circling conversations about heritage, nostalgia and the legacy of colonialism.”
I am working on a new series of watercolours, with larger-scale oil paintings in mind. They are a more personal response to the act of creating a home and making oneself feel comforted. Undeniably, this is as response to being indoors so much of the time earlier this year.
The large monotypes are like enormous drawings transferred on to paper. I cover a surface in ink and wipe the image into the plate. The white of the paper becomes the light across surfaces in the depicted space. They have an almost photographic quality of a captured image.
I am always most interested in what I have made most recently as they are the stepping stone to the next piece and ideas.
But if I was to chose one piece I would pick 'Indoor Silences. Distant Noise’, my degree show work at City and Guilds of London Art School last September. It was the first fully immersive installation I have made: a full room of monotypes on Japanese paper, like floating tapestries.
I spend a lot of time in my studio making, it’s really important because that’s how I work things out. Beyond that I read often, and think and talk about my work every day. I am learning to be more porous, to allow for meanings and interpretations of what I make to emerge naturally, as well as taking inspiration more eclectcally. This has given me so much more energy within my art practice.
"I am learning to be more porous, to allow for meanings and interpretations of what I make to emerge naturally, as well as taking inspiration more eclectically. This has given me so much more energy within my art practice."
I am looking forward to releasing my frst limited edition wallpaper with Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair in November. As well as co-curating a project space forthe online fair this year with the lead curator Lizzie Glendinning.
I am taking part in the Slaughterhaus virtual open studios and releasing my first ever editions of etchings! I Was lucky to win the Slaughterhaus Print Prize this year and have been learning new printmaking methods. I have loved every minute.
I also curently have a painting in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition until January.
Eleanor May Watson
Photography, Direction and words: Nina Scott-Smith