“The depth of Elena’s work critical underpinning is exceptional, bringing together knowledge and love of literature and passionate commitment to textiles and studio practice with forensic, obsessive relationship with chosen materials”
(Professor Lesley Millar, feedback on practice, UCA Farnham, UK, 2021)
At the fore-edge of the book, art and cloth become poetry…
I am a writing textile artist working within verbo-visual realm and inquiring into transversal points between art and language, informed by rich, Eurasian ancestry. Global cultural connection is addressed through revival of heritage. Tension between private and universal identities – reconciled in cloth through artistic examination of a book form, constructing whole from fragmentation.
Complex colour, fluidity of cloth, create new alphabets, constructing libraries of the mind, landscapes of belonging, emotionally invested, conceptually dense. Whimsical book-sculptures weave memory and history together, codifying book as self, elevating it to higher stratum of allusion, giving agency to the intangible.
Intense research and practice led to examining cloth as text. My love of a written word transforms cloth’s semantic potential into fabulating stories. Their suggested presence, ‘unreadable’, asemic quality, carries an aura of anticipation and a seismic potency to affect profoundly. Placing this seductive tension into the framework of artist books offers infinite possibilities…
Specialisms developed during research MA (Textiles, UCA Farnham), – writing, natural dyeing, textile sculpture, book arts, fabric manipulation, resist, eco-printing, gilding, stitch, fish skin leather – handcraft a world of wonder.
Daringly experimenting, boundaries pushed towards sustainability, wishing both to create a precious object and discover a poetic dimension in natural one. Passion for natural dyeing celebrates nuanced, unrepeatable beauty, which is unique and becomes a ‘living colour’, – changing, developing with age, reflecting humanness. I do not use any chemicals and also choose to omit alum from mordanting process as a small but important contribution to sustainability. Instead, practice mordants textiles with bio-accumulators (Symplocos) and gallo-tannins. Growing inclusion of antique textiles honours ancestral knowledge, creating palimpsest of narratives. Never random, material, aesthetic, conceptual choices – always identity-informed, distilling private towards universal. Process – often intuitive, not pre-designed, as my creative learning was not formal in both art and textiles. Resulting outcomes are often hybrid and transgress different media, reflecting multiplicity of self and development without axiomatic restrictions.
My choice of hand-crafting was predestined by the way I was brought up – human hands were embracing, protecting, stitching, cooking, writing, turning pages to read as long as I can remember – encircling me with that warmth, crystal quality, clarity, trueness, – the only way I could own my work now, make my voice coming from the core. It felt natural, the only way I knew and I wanted to share my story. My desire to ‘unlock’ viewer’s higher emotional and visual intelligence perpetuates indisputably timeless beauty, significance of textiles.
My influences: Vladimir Nabokov, Silver Age Poetry, Umberto Eco, Edmund de Waal, Magical Realism, Maria Lai, Franca Sonnino, Maliheh Afnan, Anselm Kiefer, Mariano Fortuny, Ivan Bilibin, Leon Bakst, Japanese woodblock, Itchiku Kubota and Tsujigahana technique, Kandinsky, Severini, Chagall, Andrei Tarkovsky, Borges, Rosalind Wyatt, India Flint, to name but a few.
Fire Within, The Book of Becoming Assemblage