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An interview with artist Eleanor Ysabelle Roche

“Whilst harvesting and sewing this piece together, I felt my body stretch in different ways. Gathering leaves in a number you like with nothing but adrenaline flushing your cheeks and ears, this excitement to give life to something that connects back to you; intuitively rummaging and organising the ether to its formless form. Somehow.” - Eleanor 


This concept is nothing short of amazing. Where did the idea come from?

Walking around houses and parks when lockdown hit had me looking at more native trees and flora often. I am drawn to plants, so it was natural for me to get curious about them. I studied barks and birds in a park I often visited, and when moving out of this neighbourhood recently, I wanted to remember the likeness I had for what surrounded this time. My first dress was made from Eucalyptus leaves — the first tree at the entrance of the park. I was drawn to it’s big, old-ness. Had a Wabi-Sabi taste to it. The dress what you see now is of the Flame Tree, a tree that I now pass by in my new neighbourhood. I enjoy the idea of marking a connection to what captures a particular time and environment. That’s where it came from.




Would you say that you are constantly inspired by nature or do you have an idea and you look for ways to conceptualise it through nature?

It largely varies. The language of nature portrays certain ideas well, and other times nature inspires ideas with materials that aren’t raw. What inspires me is the sensory connection to our surroundings and how we use it to express meanings of sorts. I usually like plucking what’s around me, in an intentional make-with-what-you-have way.




Can you walk us through the process? Did it take a few test runs to figure out where to sew it, what kind of thread you’d need and if the leaves were sturdy enough?

I am big on experimenting with a plan that has a loose, open end. I did not design the final piece but knew that I would make it on the go and learn something from it. The test run is the piece itself, and I keep learning more as I make more pieces. The eucalyptus dress had small leaves and I do not know how to sew, so it was a hard start that took a lot of time and taught me the dos and don’t in future leaf-sewing. I’m still learning how to preserve them as they get more feeble. For me, what works is to do my best to materialise an idea to what I feel is fit. Too much of planning gets me carried away in ideating the process without any tangible result. I’m motivated to continue when I see fragments of the vision come to life.




I can imagine an art piece like this would present a true test of patience… is there any other lessons or emotions you went through whilst creating this?

To move from being fast and immediate, to slow can be painful when I’m not ready. Lately, I feel satisfied even when I’m vexed in the process. There’s a sense of satisfaction in that annoyance of making something we dream of. It still signals that I’m pouring my heart into something and it’s a good reminder to maintain expressing. I’d rather be angry than not do it all. To be in the process of making is a vibration I want to be in for as long as I can.


Any other pieces from the Flame tree on the horizon?

I’d like to. Working with native species was a great start and sharpened the vision that I first came with. Plants feel like a very important part of my life right now, so I’d like to study more of them and link them to what my hands can make.

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