Joya: AiR / Ellie Barrett / GBR

photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


"I’m a sculptor and practice-based PhD student, researching the meaning that is embodied in material, and the ways in which it can absorb social and political narratives. My sculptures investigate the treatment and consumption of bodies, theories, objects and artworks. 

I came to Joya: AiR to explore and examine ways in which raw material can reveal itself in completed artworks, overflowing from the finished product as opposed to disappearing into the surface. This is important in my work, as my sculptures intend to demonstrate that material cannot be completely controlled but rather resists our intentions and, in doing so, influences our social behaviour. 

I studied the earth around Joya: AiR, which is composed of beautiful silky clay. It is stark white, soft beige, salmon pink and coffee brown. It is velvet sand and hard stone. Rather than making, I spent my time here capturing the various ways the clay around me reacted to my interventions.  I immersed myself in this material, examining the ways it could be smeared with water, kneaded into dough or crumbled into dust between fingers. I documented the different forms, colours and states it existed in. I also recorded my observations and transcribed them, creating a text based work which reflected the materiality of the clay in written language. 

Navigating this landscape increased my awareness of the material around me, and drew attention to the ways in which our encounters with it can shape our understanding of the world. From this research, I have developed strategies for drawing out the materiality of substances, which I will bring back to my studio in order to represent material as temperamental, messy and unexpected in my finished sculptures."

Ellie Barrett

Simon Beckmann