‘Re-Purpose’, 11 November – 18 December 2016, ANU Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra, Australia

For Nicole Ellis, ‘the idea of construction/destruction was helpful early on. It was instructive in the importance of risk-taking and being prepared to lose something in the process of finding something.’ She adds: ‘I am now interested in the idea of a dismantling/reorganising process, rather than the putting-back together principle of traditional archaeology. I dismantle objects to discover how they are made, to reveal their hidden structure.’ 32

From an early phase in her history, Ellis realised that primary invention, making something out of nothing, went against her creative predilections. The found object and, more specifically, found materials have provided the initial stimulus for more diverse avenues of invention. In her recent Time-Lapse series she alters the character of already coloured, already textured fabrics, extracting from them the most unexpected evocations of space, light and air. The constituent fabrics are laminated and torn apart, displaying the residues of the adhesives which streak and mottle their blues and greys with bright cloud formations. Subtle almost subliminal tints modify the coloured ground: they are the residues left by ripping apart differently coloured textiles. …Ellis’ role is virtually that of an editor, a compiler of elegant formal constructs.

Ellis’ seemingly vaporous distillations emit an energy of transformation. The suspended integers elicit a microphysical propensity, bring to mind the atomic thresholds of visibility whilst equally extending to encompass the immensity of space.

Colour is central to ‘Ellis art. Found colour in the form of used, flawed or modified fabrics provides her with a ready-made palette. Ellis’ configurations of colour elide into voluminous illusions of light. This leads us to recall Lucretius’ account of vision in which air ‘passes through our eyes,’ or ‘luminous air…filled up the pathways of the eye with light.’ 33 It is through light, the enabler of colour and the conduit of an endless stream of atoms, that we are to envisage the contents of the void.

Anthony Oates 2016
Curator, Exhibitions
Australian National University
October 2016
Excerpt from the Repurpose catalogue essay. 2016, p 23

32. Artists correspondence with the author (questionnaire), 15 August 2016)
33. Quote in McGrath, Hugh P, and Comenetz, Michael, Currents in Comparative Romance Language and Literatures: Valery’s Graveyard: Le Cimetiere marin Translated, Described and Peopled (New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 2013) ProQuest ebrary: Web. 1 July 2016, p. 138.

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