An artist a day ft. Maria Dawn Ellis

This years Oldham Open features over 300 individual pieces from small intricately crafted jewellery to a large 6ft x 6ft mixed media canvas. The remarkable array of mediums, techniques and styles used demonstrates the talents and skills of local artists and craftspeople from the Oldham Borough.

To celebrate the opening of the Oldham Open we will be featuring a number of our exhibiting artists as guest bloggers, telling us a little about themselves and their work.

The next fantastic artist to feature as a guest blogger is…

Maria Dawn Ellis

Maria Dawn Ellis1. Please can you give me a brief introduction about yourself and your work…
My name is Maria Dawn Ellis and I’m a visual artist/crafter/poet (part time, non-professionally) I’ve enjoyed being creative since childhood. My 82 year old mum still has a painting stuck up on her bedroom wall of my teddy, which still looks great, almost 40 years later! Acquiring an Art O’level helped me decide to pursue further adult art training. I left work after 5 ½ years due to several health problems and giving serious thought to my future, I started drawing classes at Lifelong learning in Shaw. From there my tutor encouraged me to do a part-time foundation course in art at Oldham College.
Three years later and a special award for my commitment, I was accepted on a degree course in visual arts and art history at what was then Bolton Institute.

Unfortunately I left in my third year without completing my degree. I was then uncreative for about 6 -7 years, I started yearning to draw and paint again. Several more adult education classes later and fast forward about five years ago. I met a very talented artist who was doing a painting demonstration outside a church in Royton, where I had a couple of pieces in an exhibition. He is the artist at the Mustard tree, a charity which helps homeless people and those on benefits based in Manchester. My painting in this exhibition was created there in 2011. I have had a variety of different pieces in previous Oldham Open exhibitions.

2. Can you tell me about the work you have  about your inspiration for the piece, is this your usual type of work? What technique have you used and why?
I’ve submitted two pieces to this years exhibition. The first is entitled “Glass Light” this is aplay on words as part of the image is a small gas lamp. This and other items – a glass vase, a small ornamental bell and a tiny bead were all placed on photographic paper in a dark room, I then exposed the photographic paper to light to produce the image. This was created as part of my visual arts degree. This isn’t my usual style of work but I did really enjoy developing photographs in the dark room. The second art work is a painting titled “Sunset over the sea – After Turner” It was inspired by “The Fighting Temeraire” and was an experiment using acrylic paints on canvas to create a watercolour feeling. This took several attempts and re-working to try and recreate a Turner-esque feel to the painting. It was quite a challenge but a labour of love. I now feel it is one of the best pieces of work I’ve ever produced.

3. Are you working on anything else at the moment?
I’m hoping to start creating a new body of work soon, focusing on images of Oldham and the idea of peace in our borough. This will be using a variety of mixed media.

4. What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you couldn’t make your work without?
I don’t have any favourite artist tools. Though I do enjoy taking photographs on my digital camera and phone! I love to try using new techniques!

5. When you’re not busy creating what do you like doing in your spare time? Any other hobbies or interests?

I am the chairperson of a group called Peace Talks Oldham, which I helped set up in the last 12 months. We are a group of people who are actively promoting peace in the area we live in. I have been listening to the message of the ambassador of peace – Mr. Prem Rawatt for over 25 years. This year we have signed the European parliament’s pledge 2 peace and also worked with Oldham Council to enable them to become the first local authority in the UK to sign the pledge to peace.

6. Which other artists do you admire or inspire your work? (famous or not!)
There are many artists who have and still do inspire my creativity, these include Van Gogh, Turner, Picasso, Antony Gormley, Barbara Hepworth John Blakemore – photographer, Prem Rawatt – Photographer, musician and poet, Graham Hudson – Painter at Mustard Tree and most importantly my dad who loved crafting with wood.

7. And lastly, do you have any inspiring tips or words to share with everyone?
Despite life’s setbacks and problems, don’t ever give up! Be inspired by the world around you. Enjoy life for the gifts you have been given, be kind to others. Art is wonderful, therapeutic and rewarding. Try new things and be proud of your achievements!

Find out more about Marias work and inspiration here.

The Oldham Open is on until December 5, be sure to visit to see Maria’s work and all of the other submitting artists and makers.

EvaD Ould-Okojie

Access and Interpretation Officer