Elizabeth Drury at Akara Art

Surreal objects in monochrome and colours are what entrance the viewers as they observe something similar to astral projections in the show Objects in Transition in Akara Art. Keen to know how Elizabeth creates her artworks, I caught up with the London-based artist for a quick interview:

Mirage BY Elizabeth Drury, Graphite on paper, 45 x 32.7 in, 2017

1. There is a double transference when you begin painting. Initially you visualize your idea and then you arrange a tableau based on that which is aided with mirrors and lamplight. Why the second step?
I wanted there to be windows into moments of my imagination within the still-life sets, almost like escaping through a daydream whilst at work.

In my mind, the forms of illusion I use still make logical sense as I often take inspiration from the hidden architecture of theatre and early film sets (such as pulley systems and lighting) to create illusions. It is just an additional step to the process and activating the still life.

Some moments of theatre are hidden, and others more visible. I wanted the spaces overall to reflect the ‘architecture of thought’ which is often a collage of memories and symbols- some real and some fictional, but all grounded somewhat in fact.

Acrobat by Elizabeth Drury, Pastel and Coloured Pencil on Paper, 52.7 x 46.4 inches, 2017

2. Whimsical, fairy-tale-like surrealism is characteristic to your artwork. How did your practice evolve to and arrive at this point?

There’s always been a push and pull with childhood play within my work. For a long time, I made abstracted observational drawings of abandoned teddy bears as a form of navigating the anxieties of growing up.

Objects around me such as bricks, plastic bottles, pieces of metal and tablecloths (things that I saw on my way to the studio every day and dismissed) became more relevant to my current environment, so I decided to collect and inspect them instead. Recurring patterns and shapes I would see every day are now the new navigators of uncertain spaces.

Getting objects to perform in a psychological space I can control despite their ‘still life’ status, has been a constant throughout my practice. The illusions that occur in my works are from a place of frustration and dissatisfaction with the observational drawing process. So, over time, the observational rendering has become more theatrical, with more potentials for the still life to be subverted.

Uncertain Mass by Elizabeth Drury, Graphite on paper, 54 x 40 in 2017

3. What inspires you to draw and paint the way you do?

Confusion and control. As a young woman, at a time in my life where there are so many variables, it’s relieving to have control over one particular aspect. Part of me is still dreamily one foot in an illusionary space, but the other is aware it’s maybe time to leave. My practice helps me to navigate a new space of where I am and where I want to be.


Trappings for Speculation by Elizabeth Drury, Pastel and coloured pencil on paper, 23.6 x 31.4 in, 2017

4. As an artist, what do you think is most important to you and your practice?

Being allowed to be obsessive about something until I have worked it out. Observational drawing provides me with a space where I can manipulate, control, and dream until I feel more confident about something. It is important to me that exhibiting work allows others to join me in the recognition of that feeling of anxiety that sometimes isn’t talked about.

Elizabeth Drury

5. Given the fact that there is something very personal about your artworks, would you call your creations collectively your visual diary?

I suppose so, but it’s not linear like a diary. It’s more a collage of symbols, feelings, and associations that happen all at once. I would say as a whole, each work has an individual mood, but as they are time-based, I work on most them simultaneously, therefore subtle responses to feelings I’ve brought to the studio on a particular day occur across different pieces.

6. What are you working on currently and what are your future projects?

At the moment I’m re-setting the process slightly and collecting new objects, especially from my time in India. Such as small pieces of concrete, sections of material and even pressed flowers. Abstracting these and working in response to an entirely different environment to my London studio will be an interesting starting point. In my most recent works, I have started exploring colour, so there is also a lot to introduce here in relation to being in India.

Objects in Transition is on view from February 1st, 2018 to March 17th, 2018 at Akara Art, 1st Floor, 4/5 Churchill Chambersm32 Mereweather Road, Colaba, Mumbai, 400001.

All images used with permission.