The Sayle Gallery's next exhibition, "A Happy Medium", by Artist in Residence Elöise White starts on Saturday 24th June and runs until Monday 24th July
Eloise was the successful candidate for last year’s Artist in Residence placement at the Sayle Gallery in Douglas. The Residency was part funded by Isle of Man Arts Council and the Sayle Gallery. She has been based at the Sayle since August 2016 helping out and learning about what it takes to run a gallery as well as developing a residency project of her own.
Eloise graduated from Staffordshire University in June 2016, where she had been studying for a BA Hons in Stop Motion Animation and Puppet Making. However, her journey into traditional animation began at the University College Isle of Man (known at the time as the Isle of Man College) whilst she studied on the Art Foundation course there. Eloise recognises the support and inspiration given by her Manx tutors in the early stages of her studies. In particular she is grateful to Victoria Blackburn at QE11 High School and Kathryn Scarlett at the Isle of Man College. It was the support and guidance of tutors such as these who helped Eloise discover which creative path was best suited to her.
Whilst studying for her degree, Eloise was afforded the time to experiment and develop her skills in both illustration and animation, bringing the two approaches together in her practice. In her graduate film, Misophonia, Eloise used a method of stop motion animation using 2D painting in oils on glass. The resulting film was shortlisted for the ‘Best Independent Film’ award at the 2016 Isle of Man Film Festival.
For her Residency project, Eloise decided to make a new film which explores the connections between personal creativity and mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, during her first year at university, Elöise found herself struggling and was diagnosed with depression and an ongoing anxiety disorder, that unbeknownst to her, had been affecting her since as young as 5 years old:
“It was a rough time to say the least, especially being so far from home. But it was art, along with the support of my loved ones that got me through it. I struggled with insomnia which meant a lot of time spent alone with my thoughts, but I managed to keep creating throughout; working until the sun came up on designs for my university work and immersing myself in life drawing sessions with my headphones on.
It meant that I was able to get out of my head for a few hours, doing something that I’ve always loved, and it was the one of the few things that I didn’t lose whilst going through those issues. Stepping into the worlds of my creation meant being able to leave the reality I was dealing with for a short time each night. I want to share that experience with the Manx public to show that there are ways to give yourself that much needed escape.”
In her first solo exhibition since graduating university last July, Elöise will be exhibiting work which shows her creative development throughout her art school career alongside her latest film, her residency project.
During research for this new film, Eloise has spoken to many people on the Isle of Man who have contributed their thoughts and personal experiences about how they have used a personal creative process to help themselves with issues related to mental wellbeing and resilience. Because of the traditional animation process, the new film is only a few minutes long but it manages to introduce many thought provoking ideas and stories which encourage us all to re-evaluate how important a personal creative voice can be. All of us are susceptible to issues of mental instability at points throughout our lives and will have to seek mechanisms for coping.
For many, creative activity can be an invaluable ‘medicine’ on their personal journeys towards mental wellbeing.